In better shape after baby?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The last time I seriously ran, since starting again post-baby, was in the winter of 2010.  The year of 2010 had been "my year"; the best year of running in my life.  I had gotten my 5k time down below 21 minutes (fastest being 20:51) and had gotten several first place age group finishes in local races.  I was running 35-40 miles a week and I felt great.  I was doing lots of structured runs, intervals, progressions, tempos, long runs.  It was great.  Life was good.  I don't think I had an ounce of body fat (ok, maybe an ounce).  

At the beginning of 2011, I started dialing back my training to around 30 miles a week and started getting "healthy" in preparation for pregnancy.  At that time, I had no idea how hard it was going to be for me to actually have a baby.  When I got pregnant so easily the first time, I had visions of jogging until 40 weeks and then getting into race shape the following summer.  We all know that those plans went to shit.  No one plans for a miscarriage.

Instead of continuing running, I cut way back after my first miscarriage and stopped racing.  I thought maybe my high intensity workouts had somehow caused my miscarriages.  Well apparently cutting back more, didn't help and I had another miscarriage.  Even though my doctor said the running wasn't what was causing my miscarriages, I still continued scaling back until I was barely running at all.  Ummm yeah then I had another miscarriage, at which time I was urged by various individuals (psychologists, acupuncturists, family members, & friends) to STOP running at all.  So I listened to them, thinking that they must be right.  I gained about 10 lbs and lost all of my cardiovascular shape and any muscular definition that I had left after scaling back so much.  Friends, I was miserable.  Mentally.  Physically.

Running has been a huge part of my life.  I started running when my parents moved me out of state junior year.  I joined the cross-country team to make friends and partially because my mom forced me to do at least 1 sport.  Since I wasn't very coordinated, I decided running would be my best bet.  I took to it pretty easily, although I could have tried a whole heck of a lot harder and been a lot better (in hindsight).  I liked running so much that I did track that spring.  Senior year of high school, I was the captain of both the cross-country and track teams.  Finally, something I was decent at that I liked!

During college I didn't run as much as I should because I was either partying or hungover (freshman year) or working (sophomore-senior year).  I ran to run off stress and to try to shed the several pounds that I gained from drinking so much freshman year.

After college, I started running more for exercise and to stay in shape.  At first I ran mostly outside because I couldn't afford a gym membership.  Then once my (now) husband and I got established and could afford the gym, I ran at the gym in addition to cross-training.  

In 2006, when my Dad passed away unexpectedly, I ran to stay sane.  I was sad, angry, and  confused.  Somehow, running helped me understand everything.  I would be pissed at the world, strap on my sneakers, and figure everything out while pounding the pavement.

I ran so much after my Dad died, that I decided that I could run a marathon.  I ran one marathon and then another from 2007-2008  I was logging a ton of miles.  I started getting burned out.  It was around this time that I started getting hurt.  Shin splints turned into a stress fracture.  I got runner's knee and then patella tendinitis.  I went to physical therapy.  I was told I had flat feet and got orthotics.  Then I got piriformis syndrome.  I was a mess.  My body was tired and broken down.  I took a break before starting back up after getting married.

In mid-2008 I started actually training again.  I started attending various running programs with a well known local coach.  He was awesome.  I made some really great friends and got better at running.  I changed my shoes and stopped always wearing seriously structured shoes and wore lighter weight shoes for shorter and faster runs.  By 2010, I was in awesome shape and, as mentioned, had my best year.

2011 through mid-2013 happened.  The good, the bad, and the incredibly ugly.  The body that I was left with in April was the epitome of out-of-shape.  Running was so hard.  At first running even for a minute left me completely exhausted and feeling defeated.  My body felt foreign and loose, like my organs (and boobs) were bouncing around.  Totally gross.  I started gradually increasing the length of my intervals until I was running a mile without stopping.  Then I started gradually adding incremental amounts of distance until I was running 3 miles at about a 10 minute per mile pace.  Depressing, yes, but better than not being able to run at all.

Once I got back to about 3 miles, I did something I shouldn't have and I started running with the baby in the B.O.B.  He was under the recommended age, but had good head/neck control.  I bolstered him with rolled up towels and ran only on smooth surfaces.  Running with that jogging stroller made my challenging 3 mile runs even more challenging.

Once I got comfortable with 3 mile distances I decided to do the next logical thing, train and run for a half-marathon.  Ha ha.  I'm obviously kidding.  Who does that, right?  Jumps from 3 miles, 4 months post baby to a half?  This girl, that's who.  I slowly worked my way back up to 10-12 mile runs with 2-3 other shorter & faster runs mid-week and ran that half-marathon in 1:46 (8:05 pace).

It was then that the race bug bit me, again, and I decided to start running some shorter races and work on my speed.  Between the half-marathon and now, I have run two other races, a 5 mile and a 5k.  I have shocked myself in those races.  The 5 mile I finished in 35:38 (7:08 pace), this was not far off from my 5 mile PR of 35:37 (ha one sec, but who's counting right?).  I finished my 5k in 20:59 (6:49 pace), which is not far from my PR of 20:51.

So what am I doing that has caused me to get so fast, so quickly?  Pretty much by doing everything that you aren't supposed to do.

-Running 3-5 miles at a time,4 days a week at the most, equaling less than 20 miles a week.
-Running most runs at an 8:30-9 min pace.
-Running mostly on the treadmill at zero incline.
-Not sleeping more than 4 hours at a time, consecutively, each night.
-Doing CrossFit 2-3 days a week.
-Being lucky to get in the proper amount of calories because I am always running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

While I was running in my last 5k race, I started to feel pain around 2.5 miles.  My legs felt heavy and my chest ached from breathing the cold air so rapidly.  I thought to myself, "This is nothing".  Compared to all of the crap I went through to get a sticky pregnancy.  All the crap that I went through during pregnancy, labor and delivery.  All the crap that I went through immediately following the birth of B.  Now that was real pain.  Running fast, pushing myself up and down hills and across a finish line...pssssh.  That is nothing compared to what I have put my body through over the past 2 years.

So to anyone who is thinking that they will never get back to where they were before they had a might not necessarily be true.  In fact, you might be able to come back and be better and stronger with less training (intensity/volume).  Mental toughness is half the battle and friends, many or you have been through the ringer.  Our bodies may not look exactly the same.  They may not feel the same.  We may have scars and changes that we don't necessarily love, but we have fought through, persevered and we have won.  Now we can whoop everyone's butts out on the race course.

Anyone else find that they are in better shape, post-infertility/loss/baby?

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2 Responses to “In better shape after baby?”

  1. I have always struggled with my weight. I've tried everything Now almost a year post baby here I am proudly saying that I can jog on the treadmill. My strength has increased so much, more core so much stronger. I made a vow that I was going to get healthy and not fall into the mom rut and I am getting there, one step at a time.

    Congrats to you on your success!!