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 And we laugh at the outdated medical advice that women shouldn’t run because their uterus might fall out, but pelvic organ prolapse is a real phenomenon (read Poppy’s guide to pelvic floor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?
I am of the age where many-many-many women in my life are having babies. I think I have had a friend, family member, or acquaintance give birth every month for the last two years. My little spit-fire, Alora is four already and I will say I am very, very-very-very-VERY, content she is past the infant stage.
Since her birth, I have trained consistently, avoided injury, and included my daughter in my running routine. I have also PR’ed at the 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon since her birth.
In four years, I’ve experienced a lot, made mistakes, did some things right, and learned a lot about running, motherhood, and myself. Read more >>
Here at Salty Running, we know moms-to-be can keep running as long as their pregnancies are normal. But I knew I wasn’t exactly going to have a “normal” pregnancy, at least not mentally. When I first saw those two pink lines, I admit that negative thoughts of inevitable weight gain and reduced mileage flooded my mind, despite the blissful joy of realizing I’d been blessed with my little “nugget.” Running gave me a healthy pregnancy, both mentally and physically, but it was a slippery slope that I had to keep in check.
Having a history of eating disordered habits I knew I’d be at high-risk for engaging in restrictive behaviors once I began to gain weight. I also knew my eating disorder (or the “drill sergeant,” as I’ve come to refer to it through the years) would not be keen on the idea of cutting back mileage. My husband and medical team would be on watchdog alert for the next nine months, and I would feel guilty for causing worry.
Luckily I had a secret weapon on my side: I’m a runner. Read more >>
Week 6 started great—after all, it’s the last week until I meet the “official” clearance to run benchmark! Hooray! For some reason, I thought that once I hit the magical 6-week mark, I would be able to run like I used to because, hey… if there are no restrictions anymore (at least not in regards to running), it must mean you feel like normal, right?
I overdid it mid-week and paid for it. I also realized on Wednesday (after my incision area appeared more swollen and was definitely more tender), that since we left home and hit the road for Oklahoma, I have neglected icing my incision area after workouts. This was a big wakeup call that my body is not healed yet. It won’t be healed for several more weeks. I resumed icing after that and it has made a WORLD of difference. I’m not sure how long I will have to dedicate 20 minutes after my run to putting frozen peas down my pants, but I suspect it will be for a while. Me and my bag of peas. I sure love that bag of peas, gives me so much relief!
Despite a rough start to the week, the latter half was definitely positive and the best I have felt for a long time. I capped the week on Saturday with a successful 65 minute run where I got to sub-8 minute pace. I felt pretty good about that! I have to wonder…. Where would I be in my recovery if I hadn’t pushed myself to an early return to [gentle] running? Would my first run back be better than my run on Saturday? Or would it be worse?
I am looking forward to continued improvement in the weeks to come! I learned a lot of things in the last 6 weeks… a sort of summary of what I learned will be in an upcoming post. I probably won’t post any more training logs from here on out, just because life is busy, but will post occasional updates on the site when I am able to. I hope this is helpful to someone! Cheers!
Week 6 log:
Day 1: 45 minutes, I felt GREAT! Did not pace check, but was on a neighborhood trail and tried to take longer and faster strides. Felt some stinging in my abdomen/pelvic region but ignored it because it felt good to go a decent pace again. Ended at the gym and did a 20-minute stationary bike workout. I threw in 6 x 1 min on/1min off repeats. Got my heartrate up to 180bpm during my intervals and it felt oh so good!
Day 2: I had such a great time getting a good workout in yesterday, why not do it again? Who needs a recovery day anyway? This time, ran 40 minutes but I could not help myself and I went to the track to pace-check. I was going 8:16 pace! So happy to be moving again. Oh, and there were some people training at the track so naturally I had to speed up. Ended up running a full mile on the track, with negative splits. My last lap was 1:52 and I ended the mile in 7:57. I was ecstatic! It felt so good. Ended at the gym like planned. I am feeling GREAT, why not push it a little more? 30 minutes on the bike with 10x 1 min on/1 min off repeats (same effort as yesterday, just more repeats).
Day 3: Humility check. Woke up sore and my lower abdomen/pelvic region was visibly more swollen. My whole stomach felt bruised. UUUGGGHHH. Felt like I did last week instead of better. Dedicated the day to icing my incision area and only went for a slow 3-mile walk that night.
Day 4: Told myself ok to run as long as I went slow, short-strides, and gentle steps and ICED afterwards. I shuffled for 25 minutes w 5-min walking warm-up and cool-down. Felt surprisingly good!
Day 5: Feeling great again. Headed out for early AM run. My favorite time of day to run is when the sun is coming up. I initially set out for a 30 minute shuffle. The stars were so bright! I ran on the golf course and it was beautiful. Then my 30 minutes were up (this is where I was supposed to stop running and walk home). But the pink tinge in the sky was so beautiful and made me want to keep running. I justified it by going slow. So I kept shuffling along watching the sun rise from the golf course. Then I ran along a road by the runway. The airplanes with the sun rising behind them were picturesque. Which meant naturally, I had to keep running…. 30 minutes later, the sun was up and I knew I had to end my run. So ran for 60 minutes total. But it was BEAUTIFUL and I kept my pace very slow, minimizing pounding on the pavement. My incision swelling is way down again, even after my run, and I am feeling great J
Day 6: Just like yesterday, I set out for a 30 minute shuffle. But… I ended with an amazing 65 minute run. It was pouring rain and, in Oklahoma, storms can turn scary really fast. I ran 3 miles of my run around the track, which was close to home, in case the weather turned crazy. I have a hard time controlling pace on the track—mile one was 7:52, mile two 7:40, mile three 7:28. I felt excellent. I had a little tightness in the incision area, but as long as I kept my strides relatively short, it did not bother me. After 3 miles, I could tell that: a) I needed to slow down so I didn’t overdo it, and b) it was just going to rain. But I was still enjoying myself, so I slowed down but kept running. I left the track and ran around the neighborhoods. And I had a glorious run. Have I mentioned I love running in the early AM, and I love running in the rain? Finished soaked but with a huge smile on my face.
Day 7: Feeling great again today and my swelling is actually down! Sundays are usually my rest day, though, so I walked a lovely 4 miles with husband, baby, and 2 Vizslas. I cannot believe that 6 weeks ago today, we were in the operating room having baby girl pulled from my belly. What a crazy 6 weeks it has been!
This week went smoothly, for the most part. My abdomen continues to be very sore, mostly in the upper ab area. That pain is only present when running. It just feels like I have a severe sideache on both sides. I am a little perplexed by this—I am guessing it may be my upper abs re-engaging? It makes me nervous so I hardly can call I did the first few days this week as “running”. It was more of a slow-motion, baby short step, shuffle the whole way. Nonetheless, the ab pain randomly resolved mid-week so that was good!
My incision still burns like the dickens if anything touches it. I was so glad when we arrived at our destination on Wednesday, because I don’t know how much longer I could tolerate the seatbelt rubbing the area! It might be a while before I am willing to get into a car again.
On a fun side note, one of my running girlfriends is running the NYC marathon this November. She was my inspiration for running while pregnant (we ran together during 2 of her pregnancies). She had a c-section for baby #1 and a VBAC for baby #2, and has definitely provided moral support and inspiration for me! She’s one tough lady. I can’t wait to see how she does.
Here is my training log for this week:
-Day 1: VERY slow, but gorgeous, run through a park in Colorado, watching the sunrise. 10 minute shuffle/2 minute walk/8 minute shuffle back. The upper ab pain started to get pretty bad at 7 minutes, but I toughed it out until I got to 10 minutes.
-Day 2: Repeat of yesterday’s plan: 10 min shuffle/2minute walk/8 minute shuffle back. I probably went even slower today than yesterday’s run. I only covered 1.3 miles if that tells you anything. I ran on a roadside trail in Albuquerque. It was flat, ghetto, and creepy haha. Apparently we stayed on the wrong side of town.
-Day 3: 20 min run (was able to run the 20 minutes consecutively!), followed by 30 minute stationary bike (upright bike). I was a little sore in my upper abs, but less than yesterday. We arrived in Oklahoma today! Hurray for being done with the car!
-Day 4: 30 min run, covered about 3 miles. I felt great and my pace was faster than it has been for months!
-Day 5: 40 min run, and I felt amazing. I did a pace check on track– 8:16 pace!! Of course, I think I always subconsciously speed up when I am pace-checking at the track, so I am guessing that I was really averaging 9 min/mile for the bulk of the run. It is always fun to explore new areas, and I am getting to know the area of Oklahoma that we will be staying in for the next few weeks.
-Day 6: 40 minute run, probably about 9 min/mile pace again. I was a little sore in my incision site from yesterday, but since I was exploring a new trail, I went longer than I meant to (e.g., I was enjoying myself, so I refused to look at my watch so that turning around late was a “mistake.”) Followed run with 20 minutes on the stationary bike.
-Day 7: Walk 3 miles
Addendum: Since I am publishing these training logs several weeks after the fact, thought I should give an update on my friend’s (mentioned above) marathon. At her FIRST marathon back, after 2 pregnancies and a c-section, she ran a 3:16 at NYC!!! I am so thrilled for her!! And she reads this blog, so GREAT JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This week was crazy. We left on Friday for Oklahoma. My husband has a 6 week training course there, and since I am on maternity leave, we figured I might as well come along. So he secured us temporary housing, and we loaded the baby, our 2 dogs, and ourselves into the car for a cross-country drive.
The seatbelt across my incision area has been far from comfortable. My entire lower pelvic area still feels bruised, but that is manageable. The real problem is that my skin is still very tender. If anything touches it, the area feels like it is set on fire. The burning calms down eventually if I don’t let anything else touch the area. Enter seatbelt = not fun. Mostly I sat for the whole ride with my hands down my pants (holding the seatbelt and my pants away from my skin). I have also spent most of the trip wondering why I can’t just walk around naked. My pants hurt because they rub my skin, and my little one is constantly breastfeeding….
Probably better than walking around naked would be to just take some Tylenol. Sometimes I am too stubborn for my own good.
I have continued dabbling with running this week. I don’t notice the burning in my incision area when I run. Probably because I have the most amazing pair of running shorts. There is no elastic band to rub the area when I run. They are an old pair of Patagonia running shorts. I have looked online for them but can’t find them… maybe they stopped making them? Bummer.
My biggest problem with running has been really sore upper ab muscles. It feels almost like a severe sideache, but the sideache is on both sides of my stomach and up top. In terms of how I have felt on runs, I think I have plateaued over the last 3 days, which is discouraging because before that, every day felt so much better. But when I compare myself to one week ago, I still see massive improvement.
Enough babbling, Here is my running log for the week.
Day 1: 20 minutes bike, then ran 2 miles on the treadmill at gym at 11:30 min/mile pace. WOW! So thrilled with the success on the treadmill. Never knew I would be so proud of 11:30 pace!
-Day 2: Walked to dirt track by my house w husband and dogs. Ran 4 laps (1 1/3 miles) at 12 min mile pace.
-Day 3: Went downtown to lake. Walked one lap for warmup, ran one lap in 16 mins (1 lap = 1.4 miles)
-Day 4: Walked 4 miles
-Day 5: Last day in Washington before heading to OK. Headed back to lake. Walked one lap warmup, then ran 2 laps at 11 min/mile pace. My upper abdomen was very sore the whole run—sideache or just very sore muscles? I am not sure. Incision area felt good though.
-Day 6: Hectic day with driving, did not manage to find any time to exercise other than a 0.75 mile walk in the evening with my husband and dogs. Arrived in SLC which is my hometown.
-Day 7: Went for a very fun run with my mom, sister, husband, and all four of our dogs! (My dad was thrilled to have babysitting duty during our run). We walked 1 mile warm-up, then ran 3 miles at 11-12 minute pace, then walked 1 mile cool-down. Mom and sister are getting ready for sister’s first marathon in a couple weeks!! I felt great on this run, and I did not notice my abdomen hurting until the last ½ mile. I still can’t open my stride at all, so running is more of a shuffle, but I am okay with that for now. Onwards and upwards!
I feel this week was a success. My mom is still here, which helps immensely, and my sister just arrived as well. It helps having all the support at home, plus it’s just fun to have them around.
I had a “successful” return to running this week, with “successful” being defined as: I was able to do it. In truth, my “running” pace was slower than a fast walking pace, but who cares?? My body was somewhat in the running motion, and that is all that matters to me at this point.
I followed my rules (laid out in a previous post) very strictly this week. I am still sore, but not enough to be needing Tylenol and Motrin (except for before bedtime). I figured it was okay to “run” as long as running did not hurt more than walking. And it didn’t, though both are still uncomfortable.
I still cannot lift my legs very well, but the push back (aka hip extension) is more painful than the lift up (aka hip flexion). I think this is because my abdomen is stretched when my legs are extended back, which probably pulls at the scar tissue more?? I am just guessing here as to why that hurts more. I am curious to hear from any Salty readers, especially physical therapists or someone trained similarly, to see why this would be.
My running form is a very short stride, more akin to a shuffle. I am concentrating hard to be sure to keep proper body mechanics, however small my stride may be. Every day, I feel exponentially better. It is amazing to see how, with the same effort, my mile pace is getting faster. I never knew how proud I would be of 15 minute mile pace, but it is a lot faster than my first run which was 22 minute mile pace! I’ll take the victory here.
With no further ado, here is my training log for this week.
-Day 1: 30 min bike at gym and ran 1 lap around track. This was my first “run” that was more than 5 seconds!! I made ¼ mile. Pace was slower than walking pace though (22 min mile pace!) I was ecstatic after
Day 2: 40 minute bike
-Day 3: 30 min bike at gym and ran 1 lap around track (20 min mile pace)
-Day 4: 30 minute bike and ran 2 laps at track (20 min mile pace)
-Day 5: 45 minute bike at gym, biked pretty hard
-Day 6: Walked 1 mile warmup. Ran 3 x 1/3 mile loops at my house (so 1 mile) while my husband and dogs walked around. My pace was 15 mins/mile.
-Day 7: Walk 4.5 mile hilly loop around home
Is breastfeeding slowing me down?
To be clear, the benefits of breastfeeding for my son and me outweigh any short term negative impact on my speed. Fortunately my livelihood does not depend upon running so I am free to make that choice.
Running is a key component of my lifestyle, however, and I have lofty personal goals! I’ve been sitting on a plateau of essentially identical 5k and 10k times from 4-14 months postpartum and I’m beginning 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 me back? Read more >>
Ask-A-Salty is the feature where YOU ask the questions and WE give you the answers! (If you have a question, you can ask us here.) Today’s question comes to us via Basil:
So my friend and running coach had a c-section (her first baby) 11 weeks ago and has been returning to running/training over the past 6 weeks. She’s been good about building back slowly, but is still having some pain near the incision when she does any tempo work or longer stuff (like 8 miles). Have any of you (or anyone you know) returned to running and training after a c-section and experienced this? She’s trying to figure out whether it’s not a big deal and she can keep pushing through it, or whether she should back off a little to give it more time to heal.
We were really excited to field this question, since c-sections are one of the few pregnancy-related topics Salty Running hasn’t covered. And as it turns out, several of the Salty bloggers have been there and shared a great discussion about their recoveries. Peppadew takes the helm after the jump!
Read more >>
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