I am THRILLED for so many people this past weekend, many who were chasing down big goals and/or completing hefty distances for the first time and hot damn. So proud of and inspired by so many!! No wonder I decided to carve out some time on a Sunday eve to write about running on the little blog. (Christmas cards, I got ya… tomorrow…).
At the end of my Berkeley recap, I somewhat hastily mentioned that I took my autumnal postpartum racing/non-racing feedback into account, heed and hawed, and eventually registered for the Modesto Marathon, on 3/20. That puts me at just about 15-16 weeks out, which means that I kinda sorta officially began training this past week (you can see the runs via the Strava or DM widgets on my sidebar, if you’re so inclined). I didn’t elaborate much more on my decision-making process and thought I’d post it here, in the off-chance it might be of interest or benefit to someone else and for when I will certainly be questioning my decision-making process later down the line.
I’ve harped on this point in too many posts to link to by now, but I’ll reiterate again that I feel like I’ve been pretty intentional and conservative in my PP running thus far, giving myself lots of time to build strength and endurance. I was cleared to run at 3 weeks PP and had a couple surgeries before 3 months PP time, but otherwise, thankfully, the PP period has been smooth. Most of my PP LRs have been with my friend Saurabh, who was training for a trail 50 miler (he did it!!), which meant that a) our LRs were on trails and b) as such, involved a mix of walking-with-a-purpose (“hiking”) and running. This might warrant its own separate post, since many of the earliest LRs I did pregnant were also on trails, and I absolutely think that if you can do so, pregnant runners should run trails for as long as possible and again during their PP periods. That type of running strengthens you in ways that I don’t think you can get quite so easily from pavement/flats and in the process, I think also makes you less susceptible to injury — which is key for all the obvious reasons and especially when you’re coming back from some time off and when you’re transitioning to running while pregnant. Anyway… oh, and c) trail running can often take a long time, so the time-on-my-feet factor has been high (3:30 for an 18-miler!), though the distance not necessarily.
Two of the three races I’ve done postpartum — the 510 (a 10k) and the Sirena 10 (a 10 miler) — I ran on not-fresh legs. Fuck, the 10k was a couple days after my surprise appendectomy/IUD removal, and the 10 miler was the day after a LR with a couple ks of gain. I knew that I wasn’t going to break any PRs or anything like that at either of those races, but I was honestly surprised at how I felt during each race. Only at the Berkeley Half did I go into the race with fresh-ish legs, and I ran there pretty much in line with how I fared at the other two races, after taking into account the race topography (BHM is not flat, nor was the 10 miler in SF). At all these races, I was expecting the worst, and the reality was that things weren’t really so terrible.
One of the biggest reasons that pushed me over to registering for Modesto was that I want some structure to my running again. In 2014, after racing SF and pacing at SRM, I trained through the autumn for my 50k and mostly focused on time on my feet, eliminating any semblance of speed work. When I learned I was pregnant just a few days after the 50k, again my focus shifted from following a schedule to running exclusively by feel (and again, without any speed). I ran long or short when I felt well or when I wanted to: that was my training during pregnancy. It is wonderfully liberating to run however and whenever you’d like — and believe me, I’ve had a lot of fun doing so for the past year — but I’m ready and eager to follow a plan and to see what’s been brewing in the legs (or probably more accurately, what I need to harvest… and then cultivate… and then brew? maybe? not a coffee drinker, so this coffee bean metaphor is probably not as good as I thought it sounded in my head…).
Besides the feedback I got from the races this fall, I feel comfortable in my ability to train for a marathon right now because I’ve posted running volume that I’ve been happy with in the past 4 months PP. I’ve selectively focused more on volume than I have on speed stuff in these immediate PP months, and here’s how it has shaken out:
- August: 36.20 (had Spike 8/8)
- September: 50.76 (surgery #1 in early Sept; took a week off thereafter)
- October: 123.02 (surgery #2 in late Oct; took a day off thereafter)
- November: 140.34
The other big reason that pushed me to Modesto is simply why the hell not. I’m a stay-at-home-mom to two young children, including an almost- four month-old whom I’m breastfeeding exclusively, so while training for a marathon probably isn’t the most logical or easiest thing for me to be doing with my time, I think I am making it work. Without going into the logistics of my training and life schedule, I have to do some shuffling with runs and workouts during the workweek to accommodate my family’s schedule, but after doing it for a week, I think I’ve figured out a method that’ll make it all work and — most importantly — will allow my running to be minimally intrusive to our family life. That’s key for me.
I’m really excited to see how this training will unfold for me over the next ~15 weeks. It’s much too early to talk goals and such, but if nothing else, I’m going into this cycle feeling really revved up, healthy, strong, and optimistic. The running community is a wonderful one to belong to, and I’m really stoked to be able to answer that I’m not only training for “life” these days.