From Pregnancy to 15K - A Training Log
Although I found running to be a mental and physical release pre-pregnancy it certainly didn’t feel that way when I first started running at 3 months post baby. It was a STRUGGLE! I could barely run 1 mile and had to stop to walk, kept pushing on to the second mile then stopped again to walk and finally pushing myself to run the last mile and I was done! Holy crap I was glad to have it over with. The truth is I really had no desire to run for quite some time because I felt so sluggish and my body just felt clunky and out of shape!
I then started to do some resistance with bands and really started incorporating weights to focus on building some muscle. Little by little I would do a few treadmill runs and I’d start with a walk slowly progressing into a run, and a relatively slow one at that, compared to my pre-baby body. But I took it with stride and I knew it would take some time to build up.
For me, I find motivation by signing up for races. My husband and I are part of the New York Road Runners and really enjoy the races as a form of exercise and motivation. A race is always different than running on your own. You have the anticipation of the race then you get there and everyone’s all pumped up and there are literally hundreds of people doing the same exact thing and the competitive streak kicks in and the adrenaline starts to flood through your body. I remember this feeling from my high school track meets and it’s a familiar, yet nerve racking, feeling that really start to get your mind focused and your body jazzed up to do the run. I would HIGHLY encourage finding a race to aim your training towards. Start small with a 5k and do it at your pace, whatever that may be, no pressure whatsoever and just see how it feels to be in the race.
The first race I signed up for was a 5k and that was early December and was approx. 4.5 months post baby. Now knowing this I started stepping up my training and just tried logging more mileage. Because every runner MUST log miles to get better, it’s just a fact. Cross training, circuit training and interval training are great ways to prep for a race and start to train your muscles. One of the best ways I’ve found in addition to weight training is to do interval sprints on the treadmill. They can be short bursts with walks in between and eventually leading to a jog with bursts of sprints but you have to at least get started.
The key is to focus on time and distance. There are multiple approaches to this strategy. You can set your distance goal (let’s say 2 miles) and you want to achieve that in 18 minutes. How are you going to reach that goal? You can do any combination to get there but just focus on the total distance under the 20 minute mark. Within that you can mix it up and achieve your goal by doing bursts. For instance, you start walking, then you begin jogging for 1 minute and then you do a 10 second sprint, increasing your time at each interval. Your workout could look like this:
· Walk 3.2 mph – 2 minutes
· Jog 6.0 mph – 1 minute
· Spring 7.0 – 10 seconds
· Back off after the sprint and start back at walking pace
While doing interval training it’s also good to have those longer run days where you focus on logging miles. Even if you are a first time runner there are approaches you can take to get you to become a runner and actually love it! Hang in there!
Start with a fast walk for a good 5-10 minute warmup. Start up your jog at a comfortable pace where you feel you can go for a bit of time. The talk test is a good method to determine your heart rate is at a steady state and you can maintain this pace for a least a few minutes. When you feel you can’t keep it, drop back to a walk until your heart rate and breath catch up and start again. Repeat this over and over until you have logged at least 2 miles. Each time you go out there to do your runs focus on keeping that jog for longer and longer and gradually increasing your distance each time your run.
As far as a schedule is concerned, see below for a reco for beginner runner:
· Week 1:
o M – Interval Training 15 minutes
o T –circuit training/resistance training
o W – Long Run (1.5 miles to start)
o TH – OFF
o F – Interval training 15 minutes
o SAT – Long Run (2 miles)
o SUN – OFF (recovery with foam roller)
· Week 2:
o M – Weight training/Circuit Training/Resistance Training
o T – Interval Training 15 minutes
o W – OFF
o TH – Long Run (2 miles)
o F – Resistance Training
o S – Interval Training
o S – OFF (recovery)
· Week 3:
o M – Long Run (2.5+ miles)
o T – Weight Training
o W – Interval Training 15 minutes
o TH – OFF
o F – Resistance Training/Circuit Training
o S – Long Run (2.5 – 3 miles)
o S – OFF (recovery)
Keep progressing as you are able in your long runs. Focusing on logging the miles whether it’s through intervals or long steady state runs. It’s also KEY to have weight training/resistance training in your routine. You will be able to run longer, faster and more efficiently! TRUST ME!
About 2 weeks before the race I was in Florida for Thanksgiving and I didn’t have a weight room so I used resistance bands and focused on logging miles and ran about 3-4 miles every time I ran which was nearly daily. On some runs I would stop and do bench step ups, squats, lunges and etc. to incorporate some circuit training but I ended up logging a considerable amount of miles to prep for the race!
It was finally race day and it was 32 degrees F in New York. The race was taking place in central park and it was SNOWING! The first snow of December and we were running at 8am! We had a baby sitter meet us in Central Park with our baby and she took her to watch her during the race. That’s how we roll living in NYC!
The race started and I felt great! I was feeling good until I hit about 4.5 miles. Notice that was the threshold where I capped my long runs! Therefore, powering through that distance was a struggle MENTALLY. But if you can get through it, your body will take you the rest of the way. It’s just the mental block that prevents us from thinking we can actually achieve something. Running is about 80% mental. If you think you can do it, your body will take you. So I continued on and although my body was aching and the giant snowflakes were covering my eyes and they were dripping wet barely able to see the course, I just kept running! And running and running and finally I was at mile 8. At that point, I pushed it in and powered through the last 1.3 miles and made it through the finish line! What a relief! And what a sense of accomplishment! I did it!
Now fast forward to about 6.5 months postpartum and I’m running 4 miles 2-3x/week and doing sprints on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes 1-2x/week. In addition, I’m doing 3 days a week of weight training and circuit training.
A sample of my interval treadmill sprint workouts looks like this:
o Run 6.8 mph – 2 minute warmup
o + .03 mph (7.1) – 30 seconds
o 6.8 mph - :30 seconds
o + .06 mph (7.4) – 30 seconds
o 6.8 mph – 30 seconds
o + .09 mph – (7.7) – 30 seconds
o 6.8 mph – 30 seconds
o + 1.2 mph (8.0) – 30 seconds
o 6.8 mph – 30 seconds
o Keep alternating and increasing +.03 until you reach your max sprint. In my case I was getting to 9.5.
My time went from being 9.20 in that 15K to now I’m running at about a 8:20 pace after almost 2 months.
Make a plan and schedule your workouts. Be intentional and focus on that goal for the day whether it be time or distance and make sure to cross train, THAT’S THE KEY! Good luck, stay focused and train hard!