I need to apologize in advance for three things: 1. I’m recycling photos. 2. It’s REALLY hard to write this without sounding like I’m bragging. That’s not my intention at all, and even though I’ve gotten fastER, it’s not like I’m anywhere near elite status. I’ve just set some new PRs that I’m happy with. 3. I wrote this in list form. I know that’s totally the lazy way to write, but I think this kind of post sort of lends itself to this format
Before I got pregnant, a little part of me wondered if having kids would ruin my body and my ability to run. Despite reassurances from many people, I was still very skeptical. I really shouldn’t have doubted, because I’ve been running better in the past 3 months than I ever did before.
Since having Ellie, I dropped about 25 seconds off my 5K time, 39 seconds off my 10K time, and almost 3 minutes off my half marathon time.
Here are some things that have helped me:
1. Increased red blood cells. When you’re pregnant, your blood volume really increases, and apparently you still have more blood cells for about a year after the kid is born. I hope these faster times don’t just stop after Ellie turns one!
2. I want it more. There have been times in my past when I took running for granted, and I’ve had more than one episode of burn-out. But when I stopped running at about 5 months pregnant, I missed it dearly. Now I’m extra committed to running because it’s so amazing to be able to do it again!
3. I make workouts count. If the only thing standing between me and picking Ellie up from daycare is a tempo run, you better believe I’m going to run that thing FAST!
I also think working full time has been really beneficial. I have to schedule in my workouts, and since the days of a leisurely two hour gym session are long gone, I am really efficient at squeezing in exercise. 15 minutes of pilates core work between putting Ellie down and eating dinner, 45 minutes of intervals on the treadmill, 30 Day Shred at 5 AM before work… I don’t waste time on junk miles or long rests between sets lifting anymore.
4. Breastfeeding has been good to me. Weight is kind of a tricky issue. With my eating-disordered past, I try not to fixate on numbers too much, but now that I’m a couple pounds below pre-pregnancy weight, I’m running better than I ever have before. I don’t necessarily think dropping weight is a magic bullet for making you faster, but carrying a few pounds around may have been slowing me down before.
5.I didn’t put too much pressure on myself. I have completely psyched myself out during races SO MANY TIMES. The absolute worst was during the district cross country meet my senior year of high school. I started out okay, but mentally I completely fell apart within the first mile. The same thing happened at the district track meet. I put way too much pressure on myself and it messed with my head.
Coming back after having Ellie was pretty much the opposite of that. I put absolutely NO pressure on myself because I’d just had a baby. When my times started improving, I was pleasantly surprised, but didn’t set any crazy goals right away because I genuinely had no idea what my body was capable of.
It’s kind of like how running without your Garmin can make you go so much faster, because you don’t see your pace and freak out about being either too fast or too slow. Because I was still getting back into shape, I didn’t worry too much about my times. (Maybe that analogy doesn’t work at all, but it kind of made sense in my brain…)
6. Pushing the stroller is HARD. The first month I was back to running, pretty much every run was completed while pushing a stroller. It wasn’t easy, but I think it made those runs without the stroller seem much faster!
7. Extra muscle? I weight trained a LOT during pregnancy…and I think that and carrying around the extra weight may have made my legs stronger.
8. I’ve been racing a lot. I have raced almost every weekend since my comeback race 5 weeks after Ellie was born. Racing too often can be a bad idea, but as I was getting back into shape it was extremely motivating. Knowing I had a race to do meant I wouldn’t slack on my mid-week runs, and it was also a great family activity! Seeing my times start to come down only motivated me more.
There is one downside to this whole running-while-nursing business. I’m still not completely comfortable nursing in public, and pumping in public just feels weird. Mike was so kind as to document me hiding behind a tent before the North Face Trail Half. It’s not pretty, but I do what I have to do!
I’m now just beginning to start training for marathon #7 – Big Sur on April 29th. I’m not going for a PR, but I’m excited for my first post-baby marathon!