Mango’s training log, navel-gazing edition

Generally, under normal circumstances, there are only 3 people on earth who are interested in the contents of my internal organs: me, my husband (if he happened to cook dinner), and my primary care doctor.

However, get yourself one of these, and suddenly n > 3 people are a little bit more interested.

(Tiny human #2 has intra-uterine dance party. Don’t worry if you can’t make out him/ her clearly. On normal ultrasounds the tech has to be like HERE ARE FEET, THIS IS THE HEAD.)

Once again I’m training to grow a wee human. (It’s dead obvious to anyone Strava-stalking me: lots of run/ incline walk treadmill workouts, most of my jaunts were 2-4 miles tops for several weeks during the ‘feeling like ass’ phase aka first trimester, and my ‘long’ runs shrivelled to 5 miles…)

People keep asking me “how do you feel?” Uh, I’m a parent, tired is my default state. So I’ve been going with the ‘a little something each day’ plan: a bit of movement every day, whether that’s 20 minutes of treadmill walk, a group track workout, or a few sets of MYRTLs and 15 minutes of stretching. Instagram SuperHeroMotherRunner I am not.

Right now, at this stage, I finally feel about ready to kick my long runs back up to over an hour, but the weather hasn’t been cooperating and I have zero desire to treadmill for >1h. At this point, my midwife has given me the green light to basically go ahead and keep doing whatever I was doing – well, maybe not train for a marathon, but you know. I’ve slowed down a whole lot on easy runs (heck, everything that’s not track is an easy run) and a tad on the track, but haven’t needed to modify significantly yet. (Around 2nd or 3rd trimester, I start switching from distance-based reps to time- and effort-based ones. For instance, if the set calls for 800 repeats, I work out how long each one would have taken at my normal non-pregnant pace, and just run for the same duration, which allows me to vary my effort if I need to without the workout taking f or e v e r.)

Anyway, yes…tiny human…. I realise that in itself sounds like another cliche: girl achieves great big huge marathon PR (see: Baystate), girl eases off training, girl celebrates, girl gets knocked up. After Baystate in October, apparently my body was like ‘What? You’re not running 50 miles a week? DEVOTE ALL THE RESOURCES TO EGGS!’

It all happened so rapidly that at least one person asked me (kindly) if it was planned. (Answer: yes. I take a year and a half to plan for a single marathon, we definitely planned this tiny human.) We were just very, very lucky. Under absolutely ideal circumstances there’s like a 1 in 4 chance each cycle, so I was psychologically prepared for it to take some time, like the last round. And, knowing other people who have struggled so hard with fertility, I am very, very grateful (& also wish someone would record this data point re: running, BMI and fertility for a fuller picture). We decided to just go for it, like the crazy people we are (because daycare x2 + 1.5 incomes + 1 bedroom apartment = pretty certifiable, even if all of those things are mercifully temporary).

But your racing fitness!

Anyway, I’m not the only one to have the thought go through my head: what’s the point of working my way back to full racing fitness and building up all that motivation and confidence only to essentially chuck it aside again for about a year and a half? Between 2014 and 2017, I ran a scant handful of races (but oh I was so much more SRSBZNS about each one). It took me a year after giving birth (to be honest, partly physical conditioning/ sleep deprivation, partly milk-supply-related anxiety) to work my way back to the point where I could happily finish a half marathon. I didn’t run a marathon for three years. Why, after having achieved this level of fitness, would I want to ‘throw it all away’ again?

The truth is, I’m playing a long game. I’m not on anybody’s timeline but my own: I’m not training to qualify for the Olympic Trials, or even BQ (and heck, you bet I will take that age advantage, because #cabooselife!). I’m not in any hurry. I don’t expect to set any marathon PRs till about 2020. Racing and all its joys will be there when I’m ready. The tremendous advantage of being a mediocre (ahem – lazy) hobby-jogger is: There is no pressure. I can always improve some more. Heck, I have a friend who still sets PRs. In her 50s. Don’t talk to me about over the hill; we runners eat hill repeats for breakfast.

Plus, I really like the kid I do have. Sure, I didn’t sleep and existed in a grumpy haze for a year and a half of my life, but for someone who was so demanding and angry at night, he sure is a sunshine child in the daytime. (Said a friend who just had her second: I forget, how do you get them to sleep? I looked at her blankly. Don’t look at me, I don’t know.) Sure, sometimes it’s a PITA to wrangle everything, toddler clothing and snacks and all, for a 30min stroller run; but the look on his face when we pass a train, or various species of truck! And it is honestly fun to run at top (stroller) speed while pretending to be a spaceship or bellowing variations on Old MacDonald Had A Farm (‘and on that farm there were…uh…some stegosaurs’) with nary a worry about what other runners think.

I never really thought of myself as a ‘kid person’ and am still not a ‘tiny infant’ person; other people’s children are cute and entertaining for a while and all that, but MY CHILDREN, oh, they are delightful. (I obviously do not expect everyone else to share this sentiment.) Small #1 sometimes still insists on falling asleep with his hand on my arm or tummy, looking at me like ‘duh, mom, you do not have bodily autonomy, you are an extension of me’. (In breaking science news, well crumbs, I *am* actually an extension of him. Who knew.)

In the meantime, I run because it allows me to feel like me. Not worker bee, not mama bear, not meal-planner-and-dinosaur-toy-imagineer-in-chief, just, you know, runner me. End of story.

Training log

February to date

Week 13: a couple of glorious 5-mile runs outdoors, 1x track workout, 1x walking commute (45min), 1x Aaptiv strength workout feat. lots of squats, 1x single set of MYRTLs

Week 12:  Treadmill incline walk, track workout, some strength work, Saturday morning 5-miler

January: average 10-15 miles per week, some yoga, some strength work, lots of Aaptiv-motivated treadmill incline walking

Tropical transplant to the chilly Northeast. Professional writer and researcher, cantankerous editor, mom to two! inquisitive children, asker of inconvenient questions.

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  1. AHHHH!!! Congratulations! I loved this post. Species of truck- heh. I’d find myself pointing out helicopters to nearby adults waiting for the bus with me, whether or not my children were near. They are really friggin’ sweet. But hey, don’t knock the mental health/stress relief running provides from all those sleepless nights and worrying about raising good kids. I’m glad you’re sticking with what works for you!

  2. I am so excited for you, and I love the realness and honesty of this post. The way I see it, we have much more possibility (time wise) in our lives to get the racing fitness than we do to have kids. Is it always gonna be easy to step away, and then build back up, step away build back up and repeat? No, but if anything it’s great mentally and physically to have that amazing reason to step away for a bit and allow our bodies to do something besides focus on racing fitness etc. Plus, you’ve got a built in support crew growing for future races! Congrats again, so so so happy for you and your family!