Friday, April 27, 2012

Starting over

It was an undeclared goal, if you will. It was one I had in the back of my head (sometimes in the front) but just never managed to share with anyone. Not even you.

For the month of April, I wanted my average pace for every run to look like this: 9:xx. A 9-something pace may be nothing to some of you and, for others, it might be a big deal. I am somewhere in between.

And I'm pleased to report, with the exception of the Wallaby 5K I ran with Heather, I met my goal.

Note: This assumes that I do not run this weekend while attending Body Pump training and take Monday as a rest day.

Before I had Miles, I had worked myself up to a respectable pace and most runs were in the mid- to high 8's. I set a 10K PR in 53:06 (8:34) and a half-marathon PR of 1:54:12 (8:43).

I maintained some of that speed during my pregnancy but eventually stopped tracking pace when I started to see more 10's than 9's. When I came back, I knew I might be slower but I had also read of female runners who not only came back from pregnancy strong but stronger than before.

My first run, with a 12:43 pace, made it evident that I would not be one of those women.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard to accept that fact. It is. Every day, when I think of the running goals I want to accomplish and realize just how far I am and how close I once was, I get frustrated. I want it all back. The speed, the endurance, the confidence.

It's true that I'm slowly getting there but it hasn't been without some effort.

Here's what I have done, from a mental standpoint:

1. Accept that I was starting over. I took off eight weeks, had major surgery and lost all semblance of normal life. It would be silly to think that things would just snap back.

2. Fall into the comparison trap. I didn't become an avid runner, so to speak, until 2010. That year, I ran three halfs (spring/May, summer/August, fall/September) and a longer trail run in November. 2012 is the year of the post-partum comeback, with me running a spring half, summer half and fall full. The nearly identical training cycles between the two years allow me to look at the numbers, I can see where I've been and where I'm (hopefully) going.

While I feel like I've been at the starting line these past few months, I can see that I'm much stronger and faster than I was when I was training for my first half-marathon.

3. Set goals. I can sit there and focus on who I used to be or I could occupy my mind with things that I can actually work on. Since my return to running, I have been training for a race - Fort-4-Fitness 4-miler, the HUFF, Martian half-marathon. Next up: a half-marathon that happens to be on Miles' first birthday. (Yes, I plan to get up early, run 13.1 miles and then throw a party.) I've done all of these without a time goal, instead focusing on accomplishing the week's training plan.

4. Remember that I am not doing this alone - literally. It was easier to work toward getting faster because I had freedom to do what I wanted in the morning. There were no bottles to make, no diapers to change, no child to dress in four layers because it's still 30 degrees at the end of April.

Oh, and there's the whole fact that during 75 percent of my runs I'm pushing 40+ pounds. Yes. Forty. Four-Zero. And that's not counting the energy spent wrangling my dog.

5. Attack it. I want to be faster. And, yes, there are things that make it harder. However, I'm not going to give up. I have arranged "Mommy needs alone time" nights so I can get in mid-week long runs. I am continuing to focus on strength and building lean muscle. I am enlisting the ever-motivating Mark this summer to push me through some tougher runs to get me back in form.

Maybe I won't get there. Maybe I will. Maybe, eventually, I'll be one of those women who get faster after baby.  I don't know. I guess I'll keep running to find out.


  1. Good job so far. My pace fluctuates a lot. When doing run/walks for long distances, I'm usually around an 11:00 pace. This week, I started back with straight runs (it's been a good 4-5 months since I did straight running)and my pace has been in the high 8s. I'm hoping to do a 5K in a few weeks and PR by well over a minute.

  2. I bet you DO get there, and faster than you think (but maybe not as fast as you'd hoped). Just look at your APRIL - all those runs below 10 minute miles AND pushing 40 extra pounds! All that strength training will pay off - you are doing AMAZING!

  3. GO GIRL! I didn't start "really" running until a year after my baby.. you have a way bigger head start and you're going to do amazing!!!!!!!!

  4. I was/am having the same feelings right now, not feeling "fast" enough or "good" enough, don't let yourself think that way! Being a runner is hard, put being a mom on top of that and BANG! Don't give up :)

  5. 9 seems impossible right now. i keep trying to tell myself to be proud that i'm lasting so long, running so much further, and feeling so much better after than i used to. but i feel like a snail and i'm worried that at my half marathon in november there will be one official waiting at the finish line napping waiting for me to get there.

  6. You are well on your way to getting back to your fast self! I think strollers provide a lot of extra resistance training. It is hard pushing those bad boys.

    I'm trying to get faster too. I know there is a faster runner in there, I just need to get my body to figure that out too. A full night of uninterrupted sleep might help out too.:-)