Over the past few months, I have been working slowly on returning to running after having baby #3 on year ago last May. This spring has been a series of starts and stops, far from the consistency I usually work towards. What has been consistent is that I am making progress towards running farther and faster, and am very happy with my postpartum progress. With my first two daughters, I was back to training intensely (and in the case of daughter #2 racing the Olympic Trials marathon) mere months after they were born.
Returning to running after Baby #3 has been a completely different story. Pandemic, work/school-from-home, etc. have all come together to make a very different postpartum running scene. All these ‘obstacles’ could get me down, and I could bemoan the fact that it is just now, nearly exactly a year after having Baby #3, that I am starting to feel comfortable running again. However, I am actually quite proud of my patience. I have to sincerely celebrate this slow progress: I’m feeling stronger and healthier than after either of my first two births (no stress fracture, no pelvic issues!).
I also feel like I’m slowly waking up from a post-partum, three-kids-at-home, pandemic fog. Feeling the desire to run again, hearing the little whispers to run faster and farther than I have been is like welcoming back an old friend. I feel like I need to stretch my legs a bit more, and I’m actually looking forward to running a bit farther every week. I am savoring that my mental running self is settling into looking down the line at the coming years and is feeling almost giddy with excitement. The long game is what distance running is about. I love to look a year or two (or 5) into the future and dream up plans for runs, races, and adventures.
So, what have I been doing in terms of postpartum running lately? The short answer: lots of walk-running. With the guidance of my PT, I essentially took a couch to 5k plan and scaled it back to an even slower progression than the normal 8-ish weeks: I went from mostly walking a mile or two each day to running about 3 miles 3-4 days per week over the length of about 3 months. It was not glamorous. In fact, it was slow, and punctuated by week+ breaks when we were having a sleep regression or I just felt tired or disinterested in running. I’ve also ventured out into the world a bit, taking two trips to hike in the mountains (Fruita, CO & Moab, UT). No running happened then, but lots of hiking. In the past month, I’ve been mostly running, though I admit that when I run with the stroller I pretty much always take walk breaks! I have done nothing to rush, and I have very little structure in my running right now, and I love it. I run 3-4 days per week, somewhere between 3-5 miles-ish at ridiculously variable paces.
One of the best parts of this postpartum running return has been having my two older kids. I have been very motivated by my daughter, and her first foray into the sport of running as part of the Dukes Youth track club. This was the only in-person activity for our kids in the past year+, and it’s been a wonderfully fun season so far. One of her takeaways from track club is that you must plan ahead to train for “big things.” At 8 years old, my daughter has challenged me to hike the La Luz Trail with her (she did it twice last summer), and for me (not her) to run-hike the Sandia Crest Trail, and to “not run so slowly when you DO ACTUALLY run.” She pointedly assures me that between she and I, I will be the one who needs the most training. Right now, she’s probably right!
Here’s to continued forward progress with an eye to consistency in the coming months!