We runners are an impatient bunch. After a year or so of downshifting our running due to pregnancy and childbirth, we’re raring to find that running identity again. But physical changes mean physical challenges. Runners who’ve ever been pregnant often joke about peeing our pants – just a little! – on the run. Is it sweat on those gray shorts, or is it pee? Tee hee. And we laugh at the outdated medical advice that women shouldn’t run because their uterus might fall out, but pelvic organ prolapse is a real phenomenon (read Poppy’s guide to pelvic floor 101!)
Baby Mango is here! Well, to be more precise, baby Mango is over a month old. There’s nothing stopping me from writing here. She’s a sleeper. I’m just lazy! Her first and middle name mean ‘peace’ in two languages and she’s living up to it, completely unlike her big brother, with whom we stumbled around in a sleep-deprived haze for the first two years. She is a ‘trick baby’ – tricks its parents into thinking babies are easy. (100% of smug sleep-training guides are written by the parents of trick babies.) I joke that if we’d had her first, the kids would be closer in age…
So mentally, I could go back to work tomorrow. Emotionally and intellectually, I really enjoy baby snuggles (and catching up on my reading/ TV, heh) and I know that this is probably going to be the last time I have a teeny tiny infant. Meanwhile, my husband had a couple of weeks off and is working from home. We don’t have any family nearby so having him around for non-baby chores is invaluable! Thanks to a flexible, all-but-dissertation grad-student schedule, we spent the last two weeks reconnecting over board games while the baby napped and the big kid was in preschool.
Physically, the last few weeks of pregnancy, I was just DONE. Basically any time I left the house, I was a sweaty, uncomfortable mess, buoyed only by the thought that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant forever. Fortunately, labor and delivery were fast and intense. The day before my due date, we went to the hospital at 8am, contractions cranked up suddenly, I got an epidural at 12.30pm, and by 3.30pm, voila, baby. Being well-rested and pushing for only 10 minutes has made recovery that much easier – no pee leakage and my pelvic floor, core and legs feel so much stronger than the first time around. I also feel uncannily level: no night sweats, no mood swings. I was such a disaster the last time! Bodies are strange.
What now? I’m itching to run again. Starting again will be slow and frustrating. But I trust that my body knows how to run (been running for fun since I was 12) that it’ll come back to running when I’m ready (having taken breaks before, first for dance and then for baby 1) and that I’ll one day feel stronger and sharper and hungrier for speed than I ever have before (not ‘back to the same’, but beyond it).
I’ll run this fall, but I’m not planning to race till mid or late 2019. I want to enjoy life with two kids, remember how to enjoy running again, figure out a new routine, and while I’m doing so, figure out how to fit the necessary ‘extra salt’ into my routine. What better time to build in the extra salt from scratch, if my world is going to be turned upside down and rebuilt anyway?
How do you build extra salt – strength, stretching, rolling, etc – into a routine? I need your best tips – if you work and have more than 1 child, what does your routine look like?
Today we’re addressing a question from reader CW that she left as a comment on a post about how to run a sub-3 marathon. CW asks a very common question: how to get back to her pre-baby race times.
Can it be done? Absolutely. Two of our resident fast-as-F moms, Hops and Parsley, have been there and done that. Below, they share their top 3 tips for CW and anyone else in her situation. While the question is sub-3-specific, the advice can apply to any woman at any level looking to train seriously again after having babies.
I am 32 years old now with two kids (seven months old and a three year old) and I really want to get back to racing. My last marathon was Boston Marathon 2013 and I ran it in 2:51. I ran that by running pretty much every day — maybe one day off every two weeks. I consistently did one long run a week of 18-22 miles with some at goal marathon pace and did at least one tempo run a week. I raced a 10k and half marathon in the training period to gauge fitness. I PR’d in the 10k with a 37:37 and half marathon with a 1:23. After having my first baby, I started running three days per week 6-ish miles at a slow pace for me. Then I got pregnant with my second kid (now 7 months old). Currently I am running three days a week about six miles per run. I really want to start training for another marathon but have no idea where to begin. Any ideas or training plans? I’d love to be fast again.
Sure, being pregnant and going through childbirth (and subsequent recovery) taught me a lot about what the human body is capable of. And coming back from pregnancy and childbirth forced me to get back into shape. I’d never needed to do that before. I was always in a constant state of getting more in shape, fitter. But not back into shape.
In any case, those lessons weren’t terribly surprising. What was surprising was how pregnancy, childbirth, and parenthood have changed how I feel about running a race but not racing it. Read more >>
Running has been my “thing” for a long time; marathons have been my thing since 2011. Between 2011 and 2016 I ran 14 marathons. I’ve had amazing races, horrible races, races I ran just for the experience and everything in between – but no matter what, the distance kept drawing me in. The last marathon that I ran was Boston 2016, while 5 weeks pregnant. I had a blast, crossed the finish line, but certainly didn’t race it. After that I didn’t start two planned marathons: once because I had just suffered a miscarriage, and once because I was pregnant with Hannah.
So my last 3 marathons before I toed the line at the Buffalo Marathon this past weekend were comprised of two DNS and one altered Boston experience. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but it certainly made the lead up to this year’s Buffalo Marathon on May 27th a bit more emotional. I also had to remember what taper and race prep felt like for a goal marathon. The last time I truly raced a full marathon was my 2:58 at Erie in 2015. Here we were in May of 2018, three years later; my PR felt like a lifetime ago. I trained hard but ultimately had no idea what to expect from my first post-partum marathon.
Read more >>
I was a mother for five and a half years before I became a runner. I survived colic, various illnesses, one round of potty training, daycare, preschool and Kindergarten before I started running. I’ve got a freshman in high school now (how did that happen?) and when I look back over their childhoods – please not over yet! – I see that being a mother-runner, or a mother who runs, is something that develops in stages.
A little over a year ago I became a mom, and along with that came the title of “Mother Runner”. I love being a mom, I love being a runner, and yes, there are times I wear the Mother Runner title proudly.
Before I had Hannah, I had a lot of opinions about the whole #MotherRunner thing. As a childless runner, I had my accomplishments diminished many times because I wasn’t a mom, or because a mom out there did a similar thing but hers was considered more impressive. I always fired back that we ALL have responsibilities and things in life that make it hard to fit things in, doesn’t make one easier or harder than the other. I usually also used the pros as examples saying it would be ridiculous to compare female athletes by their childbearing status. Are Desi and Shalane less accomplished because they don’t have kids?
Now that I have a year of being a mom under my belt (which in some ways feels like a lifetime, yet I also still feel like I’m a pee-wee quarterback lining up with NFL pros) I have reflected a lot on my personal experience with being a mom, being a runner, and how my beliefs about both have shifted and grown over the last year. Read more >>
Originally posted by Catnip in 2015
Do lactation and breastfeeding slow us down?
To be clear, the benefits of breastfeeding for my son and me outweighed any short-term negative impact on my speed. Fortunately my livelihood does not depend upon running so I was free to make that choice.
Running is a key component of my lifestyle, however, and I have lofty personal goals! I sat on a plateau of essentially identical 5k and 10k times from 4-14 months postpartum and began to doubt my more ambitious goals. I’m pretty confident in saying that lactation is not performance-enhancing, but how much, if at all, does it hold us back? Read more >>
Being a new mom, having a full-time job, and training is not all butterflies and giggles. Let’s be honest, being a mom is both taxing and wonderful at the same time. I returned to work as an ICU nurse just 12 weeks after William was born last June and was just rolling with the punches. As I wrote in my last post, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis 6 months after William’s birth. I always expected to be tired and that being a mom would be tough sometimes, but the disease was pushing me to a whole new level of exhaustion. Read more >>
I’d be lying if I said that my running habit is the same as it was pre-baby. (And let’s be honest, the mamas out there would roll their eyes and never believe another word I write if I said that.) This post isn’t even going to go into the physical aspect of running post-baby (I’ll save that for another time). But over the past six months I have learned a few tricks to make running “work” with a new kiddo.
As the temperatures continue to drop, here are my favorite things of 2017 that I recommend every mom (or dad) running with young kids bring with them to 2018.
First, my triple running stroller still remains one of the best, all-time favorite things I’ve bought. Worth every single penny. Not only did it keep me sane during my husband’s deployment, it adds a lot of flexibility to my running and schedule as an married, yet often single mom. I love it so much, I even wrote it a song!
Ode to my triple running stroller, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells:
Pushing three kids was hard
Especially going uphill
But I didn’t want to be a lard
Because of desserts I eat my fill
Sometimes I ran inside
Instead of pushing the triple-wide
And then I could run faster
But the treadmill became my master
(chorus, sung twice)
Oh, triple stroller triple stroller
You really did save me
Because without you I would have gone
I pack water bottles and treats
And put the kids in their seat
No matter what the weather
We run in the cold or heat
An essential piece of gear
For all my running this year
And I’d just like to thank you
Even now with winter here
(chorus, sung twice)
Oh, triple stroller triple stroller
You really did save me
Because without you I would have gone
Next, to go along with stroller running in the winter, I’d like to recommend two of my favorite pieces of essential gear.
For baby, I recommend the Patagonia reversible puff-ball bunting. It’s a good way to keep baby nice and cozy without overheating. It’s wind and water resistant, and has hand and foot coverings since we all know how easy it is to keep mittens/shoes on little ones. It’s lightweight and so comfortable I wish they made it in adult sizes. I purposefully bought one in a larger size so all of my kids have been able to wear it through two winters — one as a bunting, and one without the hands/feet covered, more like a snowsuit.
Finally, for the runner, I recommend the Brooks Threshold Glove. Having lived in New York and Colorado, I’ve tried a lot of different running gloves. None ever seemed to really do the trick, and I still always had to tuck my hands in my sleeves, which is hard to do while pushing a stroller. These work. Two gloves in one, they have a normal stretchy glove that is warm but doesn’t make you sweat layer, and then a mitten shell that goes on top. These gloves are perfect for blocking the wind while my hands are on the stroller handlebar. I even wear them running solo. If my hands get too warm, I pull back the mitten layer which is light enough I don’t even feel it flapping around.
What are your running “must-haves” that you are bringing with you to 2018?
Dear Saltines and Salty readers,
Life as a mom – it’s amazing, different, hard, exhausting, and wonderful.
How can it be all those things at once? I haven’t figured that one out yet, but it really is. I am writing this post as my son snoozes away during one of his very few catnaps during the day while I sip my 4-time reheated coffee I made earlier this morning. Finding time to myself is not easy these days. It’s something I have truly struggled with since my first day home from the hospital. My husband encouraged me to MAKE time. How do you make time? There are dishes to do, floors to be swept, errands to run, baby to entertain, feed, change, bathe, dog to walk, meals to be cooked, and now I need to make time for me too?
Not to mention I work three days of the week, and I leave the house at 6am those days only to get home at 8:15pm or later.
This past weekend, I ran a half marathon. Well, I tried to run one. Let me start from the beginning.
After having William, I set a soft goal for myself to run a few half marathons throughout the fall and try to get my time low enough to qualify for the NYC Marathon next year. I didn’t tell a lot of people about it, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. You see, I am on a bit of a time-crunch here. If all goes as planned (which, as we all know, it rarely does…), I hope to start trying for baby #2 sometime late next year, so that means I have about one year left to run a marathon of my choosing. The clock is ticking.
I began training in September, when I ran the River Run Half Marathon in 1:41. I was pleased with my time, though it was a solid 11 minutes short of my PR, because it was my longest run post-baby and I felt pretty good the whole time!
Fast-forward to the beginning of October, when I ran a 1:38 at the Towpath Marathon. I was semi-happy with this time, though I felt like my motivation in the middle of the race was lacking. I think I was having a hard time because I realized how much effort I was putting forth to run a half marathon time that was still about 8 minutes short of my PR. Again, I know I had just had a baby 3.5 months prior, but it still was very mentally challenging for me to get past it.
Last, I just ran a new half marathon I had never ran before called the Buckeye Half Marathon in Peninsula, Ohio. It was a relatively flat course on a cool damp day. My time? 1:44. What the heck happened?
It’s all about attitude. I went into this race feeling pretty crappy about my running. Since the beginning of October, I hadn’t ran over 7 or 8 miles. I hadn’t ran more than 1 or 2 speed workouts. I hadn’t put in the time. Remember when I talked about finding the time to do things for myself? Yep, that’s a punch to the gut. Attitude truly is everything. I was so angry about my lack of effort, I think I spent more time thinking about how I should be running or doing a workout or core work, than actually finding a way to do it. Instead of training, I had chosen to do laundry or dust the house or watching my son roll over during belly time (obvs the better choice, anyway!). I ran the first 10 miles between 7:20-7:40 pace (no, not NYC qualifying pace but a respectable pace, right?). Then I hit mile 11 and bombed it. I started to walk. I felt as if I was crawling. Everyone I had passed during the race was passing me back. I was angry, sad, and disappointed all at once. I told myself to stop being a baby and encourage everyone passing me by instead, which I did. But I still was so broken hearted those last 20-something minutes.
This is where I hope you guys can come into play. How do you do it? How do you find the energy? How do you find balance? Whether you’re a mom or not doesn’t matter, I need to know. I am in such at rut. I’m semi-embarrassed by my lack of understanding of how to do it all. I want to spend time with my son, get everything done, be an awesome nurse, and reach my goals in running. But how? Is there an algorithm to follow that helps you fit it all in?
I still want to run a solid marathon next year, but I can’t decide on one, especially since I don’t think I’ll be able to qualify for NYC by the end of this year (sad face!). Any recommendations? Do you guys think I can still run a respectable time?
I need your help, your encouragement and your advice, Saltines and Salty readers!
A heavy-hearted runner momma
Since the birth of my son on June 19th, my life has changed more than I can place into words and with all that change, I’m in the process of adapting. My body feels different, my mindset is geared towards protecting my son and raising him the best I can, and my psyche is still figuring out who I am as a runner and a person.
Who am I? Well, I’m Turmeric of course. But I’m not the same Turmeric who woke up early on the weekends, drank a cup of coffee and ate a snack, picked out some cute running clothes and got her long run nutrition ready. I don’t meander off through my neighborhood for miles and miles without a care in the world. I don’t come home, shower, put on some more cute clothes, perfect my hairstyle, eat brunch only to be whisked away into the day by my husband for more carefree fun like I used to. Now I sleep when I can, shovel in my food with one hand, sneak in five minute showers, and I can’t remember the last time my hair looked good. Read more >>
A few weeks after I started running again after giving birth to my daughter, a few people I know shared this video by a vlogger named Tova Leigh. The TL;DW version is that women are under ridiculous pressure to get their pre-baby body back within an instant of giving birth. I never heard of her before, but after browsing her posts I really liked her style. She’s a no-nonsense straight shooter about things and that appealed to me.
After a little while, though, this particular video about bouncing back got me thinking. While I generally liked the message, it didn’t sit completely right to me. It was like a pair of running shorts that fit great, made my butt look good, but sat a hair too short on my hips and caused some chafing. Read more >>
I knew well before getting pregnant that I’d surely be confronted with mom-shaming, mommy wars, and unsolicited advice after I became a mother. Even making the decision to (or not to) have kids comes with a good amount of judgement. I don’t have the thickest skin in the world, but most of the time I’m pretty good at letting things roll off my shoulder. I felt somewhat prepared for this kind of stuff when we found out we were expecting, but I also knew that being an unmarried couple, having a child, and also being an athlete would open me up to some extra judgment and pressure.
Even so, I was surprised by the judgment about my decisions to run or not run in pregnancy and after.
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