6 tips for a successful return to running

Here I am six months postpartum, and we are doing so well. Raced a 10k this morning and I actually felt like a gritty runner again. My pace was right around where I hoped: average 6:23/mi for a 10k (about 6.2 miles). oktemberfest-1Sweet bike pacer man, you were extremely encouraging to me throughout and through all the rain… “Thank you.”

I’m not sure if I’m where I expected I would be by six months postpartum, but I think I’m on the right track. I know this guy is on the right track. (He has developed this squinty-eyed-scrunchy-nosed grin. I love it!)6 mo-1-2

Right now I’m about 10 weeks out from a December marathon. I’ve decided I’ll go south and get in a marathon yet in 2013. I’m running a half-marathon in about three weeks and looking forward to good things. The race this morning was a decent indicator that the half could go well. I should be in contention for a PR. [I love competing with myself.]

Beyond this fall, I have several races laid out for the next year. Marathons, actually. Yes, several marathons. I thrive on distance and can run forever. I have always wanted to train at 100 miles per week (just to say I did, if for no other reason). I’m shooting to hit that sometime early in 2014. This fall, I will top out at around 70miles/week. For my last marathon (May 2012) I peaked at 85mi/week, so 70 should be reasonable. I am also trying something new, incorporating tempo and race pace miles into my long runs. For instance, this morning I ran 4 miles before the race, then the race 6+ miles and ended with another 7 miles for a total of 17 miles. Normally these long runs won’t include races, but it worked today. In the past, my long runs have only been long/easy with maybe a marathon pace finish for up to the final 45 minutes or so. Tempo runs are sometimes my nemesis (read #1 below for more on that) so I envision this training plan could really toughen me up. We’ll see? I really look forward to sharing my training with you.

So reflecting on the last half year and my training since becoming a mother, I’ve come up with six insights that have helped me get back into running. This applies to someone postpartum, returning from an injury, or new to running altogether.

6. Be gracious with yourself. Think of how you are gracious to other people: a favor acknowledged or a favor returned, a proper introduction, smiles, etc. It’s noticing little things and appreciating them. In the same way, give yourself grace during this time to just ease back into a rhythm. Acknowledge that you’re getting somewhere even if it is in the slightest try. You do this, too, by setting reasonable short-term goals which aim at getting you to maybe a couple of long-term goals. You’ll feel so good when you hit those short-term goals. Be sure to share with others and celebrate the progress. (Smiles. Pats on the butt. Whoo-whoot!) Good stuff.

5. Do Pilates. This is what I feel like every time I do Pilates… pilates…more like every time I get done doing Pilates. Really, I cannot say enough for how refreshing it is, like breathing in fresh mountain air. If you’ve never done Pilates, get into a class at the gym or, heck, rent a DVD from your local library. Postpartum women especially need the core strengthening that Pilates stresses, but anyone and everyone could use a dose of the “100.”

4. Find a friend. Running with my baby has been a highlight of motherhood.oktemberfest-1-2It’s also very motivating to run with a friend. When we can work it in our schedules, I’ve been running with an amazing runner friend. I’m talking top 10 at the ’08 Olympic Trials Marathon. She is inspiring and just fun to run with. So find someone to get out there with and enjoy some miles together.

3. Don’t listen to naysayers. Doubt creeps in so easily. “You’re running too much.” “Can’t run that race by then!” “Won’t that screw up your milk supply?” Well, as long as you’re within your doctor’s recommendations for exercise, you’re good. Surround yourself with really encouraging people and take negative anecdotes with a grain of salt.

2. Race. Local 5k and 10k races can be perfect short-term goals (or even long-term goals). They will help get you back on your feet. Plus, they’re fun and usually for a good cause. Race often.

1. “Just do it.” Recently I’ve been struggling to hit my tempo run pace. (A tempo run is typically a bit faster than, say, your half or full-marathon pace.) I’ve been close but just not quite. This week I was doing a 5-mile tempo run in a 9-mile run and the first mile was still about 15-seconds slow. What happened next was really great. I lit a little fire under myself by sort of screaming in my head, “Susie, just do it!” I knew the only reason I was not hitting the pace was just a mental lapse. No focus. No confidence. Something. So some self-coaching and voila, the rest of the run was right on, if not faster than, the target pace. Remember being gracious with yourself is crucial, but there comes a time when you just need to cheer yourself on to the next level.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget your sunglasses.


That’s it.

Best to you and your getting back at it!


7 thoughts on “6 tips for a successful return to running

  1. Pingback: Carrot Salad & Week 10 | Flexitarian Filly

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