I’m almost 4.5 months post partum, and in some ways, things are starting to click with running.
I’ve had some “good” runs. However, good means something different right now than it did a year ago. And it definitely means something different than when I was marathon training. But, I feel like my body is slowly remembering the ebbs and flow of running. The pounding of the pavement. The impact it provides on the body.
I’ve still had some tough runs. Generally, though, I’m starting to feel more like myself. My pace is starting to improve slightly, but there’s times my legs are heavy and I feel out of sorts. I have no idea what my form looks like, but I’m starting to feel more natural. The idea of longer runs feels more feasible now.
Despite my slower than used to pace, I know my body is working hard! With the heat, plus trying to learn to divert energy to contracting my muscles (I know it diverts so much energy to breastfeeding as it is!), I appreciate how hard my body is working.
I’m not certain how accurate the Garmin heart rate is, but judging by some of my runs, I’m usually in zone 3 or zone 4. According to the Garmin website,
Zone 3 is 80-90% of threshold heart rate. This is a long run type of effort. Breathing a bit harder here but I would say comfortable.
Zone 4 is 90-100% of threshold heart rate. Harder intensity effort. You can reply in single word responses. Tempo type of run. Raising lactate threshold levels.
This recent run was mostly zone 4, a harder intensity effort!
As strange as this thought is, my body is a little more “cushiony” right now, so I feel like maybe I’m better absorbing the impact? It could be that I’m also running slower and for shorter amounts, too. But I’m not feeling the extra soreness that I felt months ago.
Overall, I know I’m still recovering from birth, but each week gets a little better.
I still haven’t run over 5 miles. And I don’t really break the 9-10 minute per mile pace yet. But, the way I think about it, I’m building back up my foundation. Before pregnancy, I was regularly running 30-35 mile weeks, and during marathon training, it was more like 40-50 mile weeks. I have no expectations (or desire) to get back up there just yet, but hopefully soon.
I found that I feel MUCH better on the trails versus the road. I think there are a few reasons for this. One, the trails are more shaded and the heat and humidity has just been unbearable in Charlotte this summer. Even if I can get a morning or night run in, it’s still very uncomfortable.
Secondly, the softer surface and more serene running environment just does something for me mentally. I felt like I got a little runner’s high even though I did a 4 mile run. It felt good to be back running on trails, sweating it out and letting my mind wander.
I’d like to build up to running for an hour. I think I”m still a month or so away from then, but that’s my first goal. Part of this goal also includes being creative with childcare. I’ll likely only be able to get this done when Ed is home!
Next, I would like to run a half marathon in November, potentially. I’m not ready to commit just yet, but depending how the next month goes,
When I actually think about it, I have so much respect for female professionals who get back into serious competing after pregnancy. I think Kara Goucher started racing after 6 weeks or something. It’s different because it’s their job – they have contracts to fulfill. But at the same time, I wouldn’t want to start running or racing that soon. There’s too many baby snuggles to be had!
I’m also slowly building up strength through yoga and circuit workouts to complement running. I’m not naive and know that if I’m not working on other muscle groups, my running will go nowhere.
I almost feel like having a baby is starting over. I was pretty active before (and during pregnancy), yet I still feel like my slate was wiped clean after the grit and effort that goes into childbirth.
I’m not complaining at all because this whole process has been extremely humbling. It’s forced me to rest and re-evaluate joyful movement. Run when I feel like it without following a running plan. Run for 5 minutes if that feels good, or 20 minutes if that feels good. Take 4 days off in a row if I don’t feel like running. Go for long walks without worrying about losing my fitness.
It truly is a different mindset right now and I’m rolling with the punches.
Have you ever taken a break from running or something else? How did you come back to it? Was it hard to come back?