In a previous life, I worked on computers and spent all day sitting. Thanks to running, I've rebooted my career and am now a running and triathlon coach and soon-to-be physical therapist. I've also got the mind and spirit of an elite trapped in the body of a back-of-the-packer.
The great thing about being a woman in distance running today is that the stigma is gone. Not only are we allowed to participated in events of all distances, it’s becoming more and more acceptable to do so during that magical time called pregnancy. Thanks in part to a number of elite runners who ran while gestating, experts espousing the benefits of continuing to run during pregnancy and sites like this here Salty Running, taking your baby bump out for a jog is now both socially and medically acceptable in most cases.
That said, what if you’re struggling with continuing to run during pregnancy? Or what if you just want to take the 9 months off from running? Is there something in the runner code that says we have to continue running during our pregnancies?
The answer is no, of course not. Absolutely no one is going to argue with you if you decide to take it easy. That said, if you need a bit of help convincing yourself, here’s a few reasons why rest might be best. Read more >>
This week, I accidentally ran my first post-baby race. By “accidentally,” I mean that I registered for it thinking that it was at the end of the month until I got an email about packet pickup on Thursday. Apparently it was this weekend, and the date I thought it was on (April 27) was absolutely nowhere to be found on the web site. Oops. While I wasn’t quite as ready as I was hoping to be, I decided to just go for it. While I haven’t been running as frequently as I’d like, I have been covering 2+ miles consistently. Plus, it’s only a 5k. If everything went downhill and I wound up walking most of it, I’d still be done in an hour or so. Sure, we had to get up at 6:30 to leave the house on time, but since the baby’s been getting up at that hour anyways…
So, how did it go? It certainly wasn’t my best race, but it was far from my worst. The whole thing just felt long and slow, but I paced myself well. It started feeling hard just a few minutes in, but it stayed that same level of hard throughout the whole thing. I decided to try and just take walk breaks every mile and that worked out pretty well for me. I even managed to dig in and find a finishing kick for the final stretch, by which I mean I ran the last several hundred feet slightly faster than the rest of the race. There is zero speed in these legs right now, but that was completely unsurprising. Time-wise, I managed to beat both my first 5k ever and the two that I ran while pregnant last year (at 3 and 4 months along). I’ll take it.
Tuesday: 2.1 mile run/walk (1 min run/1 min walk)
Friday: Stroller Strides
Sunday: 5k in 37:14
This week was one step forward, one step back. The good news? My revised schedule worked out much better, and the first half of the week got off to a great start. The bad news? The second half of the week totally tanked when I came down with bronchitis, of all things. I haven’t had bronchitis in almost 20 years… until this weekend. The one positive was that while my chest felt horrible and I was coughing like crazy, I didn’t have that zapped feeling that usually comes with a cold. Since the small fry is still making me get up several times a night, that was a blessing. However, since my symptoms were definitely below the neck and I didn’t want to risk getting any sicker than I had to, running and exercise got put on hold for a few days.
I’m still rocking the 1 minute run, 1 minute walk interval. I was hoping to progress that after this week, but since my cough threw a wrinkle into it, I’ll have to wait another week. I can still tell that my fitness is improving, though: I’m not feeling as tired at the end of runs as I used to (although that could just be because I’m getting better at pacing myself again) and I’m slowly but surely getting used to running with the stroller. While things might not be moving as fast as I’d like them to, they’re at least moving in the right direction.
This week, I finally realized that running on Wednesdays is just not going to work for the time being, so I rearranged my plan to just make it a rest day. Now it’s one less thing to worry about getting in on an already busy day and life is a wee bit easier. My new plan looks something like this:
Monday: Stroller Strides
Friday: Stroller Strides
Only three runs a week right now, but I can always add in an extra run on Sunday when I want to. I’ll also get Wednesday mornings back in about 2 months when we move up into the next age group of our Parent-Baby class (which meets on Thursdays), so that will open up some more scheduling possibilities as well. This arrangement, however, will work for now.
That said, it was still a slow week. I took the first half of the week off so I could recover from the cold I picked up over the weekend. I never really felt that bad and probably could have run, but since Ellie’s still waking up every 2 hours during the second half of the night (thus limiting how much rest I can really get), I decided to play it safe. Once that cold was kicked, though, I was able to jump right into things for the second half of the week. I’m still on a 1 minute run/1 minute walk plan, but if I can get all three runs in next week I’ll (finally) progress it a bit the following week.
Thursday: 2.2 miles run/walk (1 min run/1 min walk)
Friday: Stroller Strides
Saturday: 1.9 miles run/walk (1 min run/1 min walk)
Y’all, the fact that Ellie doesn’t seem to want to sleep for more than 3-4 hours at a stretch is starting to get to me. However, just as I was about to totally lose it this week, she gave me a break and slept for 6 hours straight Saturday night. It happened to be on the same day I felt like I was coming down with a cold, so I couldn’t really enjoy it, but at least I got the extra sleep when I needed it.
I kept my run/walk intervals to 1 minute of each because, well, I haven’t really gotten in enough of a groove with it yet to progress anything. While it’s not getting easier (because I haven’t been very consistent), at least it’s not getting harder. Friday’s run felt rough at the beginning, but I quickly realized it was because I needed to pump up the jogging stroller tires. Easy fix. I was hoping to get out for one more run over the weekend, but the cold I picked up somewhere had other ideas.
This week started off well, but fizzled out on me. I didn’t get out and run on Wednesday as planned because it was a super busy day (and I did not actually go run instead of going back to bed after Ellie’s 5:30 am feeding) and Friday I got trapped under a baby taking an epic 4-hour nap, of all things. I was hoping to get out baby-free over the weekend while my mom was visiting, but Ellie had other plans. She picked this week to get super clingy and develop a new case of stranger anxiety, so I did not leave her with Grandma while I went running. I could barely leave her with Grandma while I took a shower without her having a complete meltdown.
Good times. Here’s hoping next week falls out a bit better.
Monday: 2.2 mile run (1 min run/1 min walk)
Tuesday: Stroller Strides
Thursday: Stroller Strides
Yup, we’re back to just regular old training logs. At this point, I feel like I’m down to just rebuilding fitness, much like I would be after any layoff. What am I training for? So far the only thing on my calendar is Ragnar Northwest Passage in July. I think that my legs only total about 12-15 miles, so it should be manageable despite the fact that I’m well behind where I thought I would be. (Which is the ultimate post-baby-running lesson to be learned: do not make ANY plans until that baby is out of your body and you are actually back to running, because you never know what’ll happen.)
That said, this week my training (or lack thereof) was completely dependent on the baby. She’s either hitting her 3-month growth spurt a bit late or her 4-month sleep regression a bit early (or, with my luck, both of those at the same time), which means she’s back to waking up ever 2-3 hours all. night. long. If we’re lucky she’ll sleep for a 4-hour chunk right after she goes down, and occasionally she wakes up every 90 minutes just to keep me on my toes. That combined with all-day plans on Wednesday and Friday (which meant I had to be up, out, and done with my run by 7 or 8 am on those days) meant that running just didn’t happen. I just couldn’t do it. It should have been easy enough – just head out once she went back down after her feeding around 5 or 6 am – but all I could do was crawl back into bed and pass out until my alarm went off an hour later. Because sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks is not very restful.
Luckily, I was still able to make it to my Stroller Strides classes so I got some good activity in. And when I did get out to run, I successfully progressed my run/walk intervals to 1 min run/1 min walk. Here’s hoping that next week is a bit better.
Last weekend, we had our first round of Sick Baby. Poor Ellie picked up a stomach virus somewhere (the down side of taking your teeny tiny child all over the place) and it hit her hard on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was an off day as we were making sure she really was done with it and Tuesday I was recovering from it. My husband somehow escaped it, and we were just thankful that only one of us was down at a time.
I was actually registered for a 5k this weekend, but I bailed on it at the last minute. I signed up for the race right after Ellie was born, but before I was back into running. At the time, I remember thinking, “I’ll totally be able to run a 5k in three months!” Little did I know. I could have gone out and made a decent run/walk effort, but the race was downtown, ridiculously early in the morning, and it was supposed to be horrible weather. Basically, the logistics were far more than I was willing to deal with for a race that I wasn’t terribly excited about. So I slept in and was perfectly fine with that choice. I’ll wait until I’m really excited about a race before I pull the trigger.
Wednesday: Run/walk 1.9 miles
Friday: Run/walk 2.0 miles
Ellie hit her three-month “birthday” this week and I am finally, actually, on the road to resuming running again. If you had told me before I gave birth that it would take this long? I would have told you that you were crazy. Surely I’d be back to running by three months! Why wouldn’t I be? Having lived through it, though, has been incredibly educational. Am I a bit frustrated that it’s taken so long? A little. But there was simply no way to rush it. My body needed that time to recover, so I took it.
In related news, I was officially discharged from PT this week. My therapist said she’d like to see my pelvic floor a bit stronger, but I have good muscular control down there and she’s essentially taught me all of the exercises she knows. All that’s left now is for me to keep doing them. Since doing them is going to be instrumental in getting back to “full-time” running, she feels pretty confident that I’ll actually keep up with it. If I had to pick one thing that was the biggest surprise in all of this, it was just how wrecked my pelvic floor was after giving birth. While I didn’t make any sort of efforts to strengthen it during my pregnancy, I felt like I had pretty good strength and control all the way through (which is why I didn’t put any effort into it). Yes, doing Kegels got a lot harder once there was an 8-pound baby sitting in there, but I could still do them. Apparently, that was no match for the process of the 8-pound baby actually exiting my body. Lesson learned.
Anyhow, this week I continued with my 1 minute run/2 minute walk intervals during the week, and then bumped it up to 1 minute run/1:30 walk on the weekend for my “long run.” The awesome thing was that my husband was home when I headed out that run, so I got to do it without the stroller. It’s amazing just how much easier running is when you’re not pushing almost 40 pounds of stroller and baby :-)
Monday: 1.9 mile run
Tuesday: Stroller strides class
Thursday: 2 mile run
Friday: 1.6 mile walk
Saturday: 1.9 mile run
Totals for the week: 5.8 miles running, 1.6 miles walking
Running and pregnancy. There is so much confusing information out there. Is it ok for you to keep running when you have a bun in the oven? Let’s consult the experts.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, in their 2002 report on exercise during and after pregnancy (which was reaffirmed in 2009), states that most women with uncomplicated pregnancies can adopt ASCM recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days of the week. However, most runners get far more activity for that in their general training. Does this mean that active women have to reduce or limit their activity once they get pregnant?
This week started off somewhat discouragingly, with no real change in the pelvic floor strength department. I was OK with that until my PT appointment on Wednesday, when she looked miffed that things weren’t doing better. Ugh. If the professional is disappointed, then we are in the realm of “slower than expected” progress. She changed up my exercise program a bit and I started working on more functional strength (i.e., Kegels with activity, rather than just by themselves), thinking that would help get me over the last hump and back to running.
Then, on Saturday morning, I decided to try a run/walk just to see how it felt. The good news: from a pelvic health perspective, it felt great! I started out with 1 minute of running and 2 minutes of walking, and I was able to finish that without any problems or feelings of weakness and sagginess. YAY. I’m hoping this is where I finally get to turn the corner and get back into it. We’ll see how it goes next week, but for now I’m encouraged.
This week saw both good developments and less good developments. On the plus side, I’m starting to get some momentum going with a routine, and did both some Stroller Strides classes and got out for some good walks (despite the frosty weather). In the less good news department, my PT confirmed that my pelvic floor is not quite ready for running yet.
The past couple of appointments, my PT has had me work with biofeedback so that we can see not only how well I can control my pelvic floor, but how strong the muscles are (and how much work they’re doing). Yes, it involves electrodes placed on my butt, but after the indignities of childbirth, I don’t really have any modesty left. Plus, it provides really good information. We’re able to see that I can hold contractions better and that the muscles are doing a better job of relaxing when they’re not working. However, we’re also able to see that the strength of those contractions is still far too low to support high-impact activity (like running). It’s a bummer, but at least I know what I need to be working on.
Monday: 2 mile walk
Tuesday: 60-minute circuit class (Stroller Strides)
Wednesday: 2 mile walk
Thursday: 60-minute circuit class
A couple of things happened this week: the baby started napping independently (not only can I put her down, but I can leave the room and she’ll stay asleep) and I finally really got my rear in gear on a fitness routine. The fitness routine is largely thanks to my mom’s group, as a bunch of them have started meeting on Fridays for an hour walk followed by lunch. Exercise and socializing? I’m in!
The owner of the local Stroller Strides franchise also came in to see our group and not only offered us a free week, but a significantly reduced membership fee. I figured I’d might as well check it out, especially if I could get an entire week out of it for nothing. The short version: I loved it. The workouts are basic circuits, but they’re exactly what I need right now: full-body strengthening with some cardio mixed in. Plus, the classes are beyond baby-friendly. Need to change or nurse your baby during class? Go for it and hop back in when you can! This morning when Ellie started to get a bit fussy as we were starting the circuits, the instructor pushed her around the room until she fell asleep while I exercised (and then she moved on to the next baby that needed to be moved around). Plus: more socializing with other local moms. The classes are not only easy to get to, but it’s also totally fine if you come in a bit late. Just jump in when ever you get there!
I’d been toying around with the idea of Y membership, since they have free child care, but I couldn’t get past the worry of what if she didn’t sleep the whole time? Or got hungry? Or super fussy? I’m sure she’d be fine for the hour or so I’d be away from her, but I just couldn’t make that jump to actually leave her with a complete stranger (who is also minding several other babies). Not only are the Stroller Strides classes cheaper than the Y membership, I’m also far more likely to go since I’m just keeping her with me. No panic on packing bottles (and then worrying about how much to pack or having to toss it out if she doesn’t drink it and I forget to get it back in the fridge) or leaving her or any of that. (In fact, when Ellie had a giant meltdown halfway through class, it was totally fine that I picked her up and held her. She just became my weight!) With that, I have the following routine in mind going forward:
Tuesday: Stroller Strides
Thursday: Stroller Strides
Saturday & Sunday: Off
Eventually I’d like to turn those walks into runs and incorporate a long run on the weekends, but we’ll take it one step at a time.
Speaking of running, my PT appointment for my super-weak pelvic floor went well this week. We used some biofeedback to help me focus on maintaining muscle activation as well as relaxing those muscles. Learning how to relax them while I’m not using them and keeping steadier activation in them when I am are both things that will lead to better functional strength (like the ability to support my stuff during running). Overall it doesn’t feel like there’s much of a difference yet, but I’m slowly working in the right direction.
It’s absolutely amazing to me that it’s been two months since Ellie was born. On one hand, it seems like she’s always been here. On the other, there’s no way it’s been two months already, because I swear it was just yesterday.
I started off the week with 30 minutes of 1 minute running, 2 minutes walking just to see how it went. The answer: OK. I’m clearly out of shape (especially when pushing a jogging stroller and 10-pound baby uphill), but the bigger issue is definitely the pelvic floor weakness. Spending last week coughing and sneezing feels like it undid a lot of the strengthening work I’ve been doing and by the end of the workout, it was definitely done.
On Wednesday morning I had my physical therapy evaluation and the therapist confirmed that my pelvic floor was, indeed, very weak. She gave me a couple extra core exercises as well and recommended I put running on hold for the time being. While I was bummed out to hear that, it was something that I already sort of knew. This means that for now, we’ll focus on walking and getting my pelvic floor and core back in shape to handle the stress of things like running. (I’ve also contemplated picking up swimming again, but that involves getting the two of us dressed, out of the house, and leaving Ellie with child care staff. That’s been a bit more than I’ve been willing to tackle just yet. Maybe next week.)
I’d revisit my goals for the week, except I can tell you this right now: not much happened. I woke up Monday morning with a drippy nose and knew instantly that I’d caught my husband’s cold. Ugh. Since my usual MO of stocking up on NyQuil and sleeping it off for a couple of days wasn’t going to work with a baby in the house, I was just sort of stuck with it. I immediately decided that there wasn’t going to be any serious exercising this week and my only goal was going to be survival.
The good news? We managed just fine and I felt much better by Thursday. Still, I decided to just take the whole week off to make sure that I was as recovered as I could be. I did, however, keep up with my pelvic floor exercises. The big bummer is that the extra strain of several days of coughing and sneezing felt like it undid a lot of the strengthening that I’d accomplished over the past few weeks. We’ll see how it goes next week, but I have a feeling that this is going to be my biggest limiter going forward.