The last HooRah

Little A is just shy of 6 months which means I have been back running for 5 months already. There is nothing like having a baby to make time fly! I have well and truly made my “comeback” and can now shift my focus from regaining strength and fitness to building on and growing it.

Post baby my goal was to regain my fitness as efficiently as possible.
Enter Speed Work!

5 months of running with a program built around Tempos and Intervals has paid off and now I feel ready to crank up the Ks!

And crank up the Ks I will do as I am only seven weeks out from my next goal… The McLaren Vale Half Marathon.

So whats the plan going to look like now?

Well you may remember me saying that I want to become a Stronger Runner?
Enter Hills!

It has been nearly 2 years since I have ran a hill session. I’m not expecting these to be fun but I am looking forward to pushing myself in a new way.

I am also going to keep two “easy” runs but do these with the stroller. I am finding stroller running physically quite challenging but I know it is making me a better runner.

I will also keep one “speed” session each week and will alternate these between tempo and intervals.

Finally of course there is the long run in which I will build up my distance. My longest run since Little A came along has been 80 minutes. In the next 7 weeks I would like to increase that by 30-40minutes. So all up for the next 7 weeks my training plan will look something like this:

Easy
Tempo or Intervals
Easy
Long Run
Hills

With 2 rest days thrown in there too I should be able to comfortably manage this load.

So why the last HooRah?

After this race I’m not going to train for anything. I may or may not race but I wont be following a training program. Runs will be done when and if I feel like them for as long or short as I feel like. There’s a few reasons for this change of approach:

1) Little A will be nearly 8 months and summer will be just around the corner. I can’t wait for our first summer together… trips to the pools, walks to the playgrounds and runs to the beach. Bring it on! I know we are going to have a blast and I know there will be lots of physical activity in there and lots of Ks put on the pram but I want our activites and days to be dictated by the weather and what WE want to do not my running program.

2) I have never really done much “unstructured” running. Generally I have been training for something and following some program. I want to learn to embrace running without striving for a race or an achievement.

3) The BIG reason for the change – Big A and I have made no secret of our desire to grow our family. The last 6 months have flown by and I know the next 6 months will too. When that time comes around I want to be ready physically and mentally. Breastfeeding, Pregnancy and Running individually are all demanding of the body. For me I am finding the combination of two of them an energy burning fest(!!!) and would dare not attempt all 3 at once (Honestly I don’t have time to eat & drink anymore). As I am not ready to wean Little A from feeding just yet I am going to wean the running first. Hopefully I can find my “sweet spot” where my body can manage running and baby growing responsibilites.

4) Finally mastering “unstructured running will be essential if I choose to run through my next pregnancy. Running while pregnant requires you to listen to your body and each run will be taken on a day by day basis (if at all!). I suspect following a plan would be futile.

So here goes my last HooRah before I attempt to master “unstructured running”!

Any unstructured runners out there? Whats the secret?
Did you run through pregnancy?

Favourites for Friday

I am just passing the final days of pregnancy now and “Passing” is the perfect description. It feels like an event getting from one day to the next and all the time wondering if today will be the day. In a bid to not let the last weeks drag I have kept my social calendar pretty full with lunches, coffees, shopping, movies and pampering. Indeed I would be a lady of leisure if it weren’t for the extra 12kg and discomfot instead I am definitely a “lady in waiting” ( I totally get that saying now and geez I don’t like to wait!)

Anyhow, on to the good stuff. Its Friday and here I celebrate with sharing some of my favourite things with you:

Cheese – Shredded, Parmeasan, Jarlsberg, Cheedar and all most evey other kind. YUMMO! I have to say I had such a limited amount of cheese in my diet before pregnancy (because it is high in fat) but now I put this yummy stuff in and on everything and I wont be giving it up post pregnancy thats for sure!

My Mini Notebook (I think its called a Netbook??) – This pint sized laptop has been a god send. Its the perfect size for browsing on the couch, emailing, blogging and reading kindle. It follows me everywhere around the house and I wonder how I ever used a full size laptop. This thing is too convenient for words.

Apple Juice – Its always been yummy but I really took to apple juice early in pregnancy and my love affair has returned in the last few weeks. I can now be satisfied with one big glass a day but at the start I could have downed 2litres a day and I nearly did once.

Maternity Clothes – As much as I was happy to still fit in to some of my ordinary clothes, Maternity clothes are way more comfortable! Stretchcy, loose and oh so practical.

Royal Copenhagen – Before my next pregnancy we will definitely have to buy some shares or a branch of this company! Thanks to me and my little tenant I am sure they will be recording a record quarter for this summer. And to the lovely folk at RC – Thank you for bringing back Watermelon Sorbet!!! It was a long summer last year without my trusty favourite but I have well and truely made up for its abscnece this year. I have always tried to keep this to a once per week habit but I have given in to my every craving since pregnancy and even ended up at RC TWICE in one day (and I am NOT a one-scoop girl!)

Online grocery shopping – I have always HATED shopping. Now I have discovered online shopping I get all the big bad bulky stuff delivered and just pop out each week for my fresh fruit,veggies,meat and bread. It is so much less of an ordeal now to do the shopping now that all the big stuff gets delivered. I swear I am spending less too!

My Garmin – yes it still made it to number #1. Because even though I’m only walking (waddling now) its been so instrumental in keeping me focused and motivated.

Well I will post again on the otherside. Wish me luck!!!

The Comeback Plan

The other day I enjoyed some last minute baby shopping & lunch with a gorgeous friend and mother who inspires me very much. After lunch she asked me if I had a plan and timeline for returning to training post baby…

OH DO I HAVE A PLAN!!! I have spent every spare minute reading up on and writing a training plan for my running “comeback” post baby. Actually I am on version #3 and I am sure there are more versions to come. Each time I finish another book I have some new ideas and training principles that I want to try and so this plan is constantly evolving and being revised.

However, no matter how good the plan I know some of the hurdles of my return to running can’t all be all be addressed with a good training plan. Here are some of the big challenges I am anticipating I will face and need to overcome:

Bits will wobble
For a sginificant period of time the body I return to running with will be very different to what I am use to. Even though I honestly believe it will all strengthen over time and return to its former glory I know that I will have to be patient with it and work with what I’ve got while I go from incubator to a performance machine.

Back to absolute basics
I have no balance, I am clumsy and my running muslces have been on an extended vacation. You would think after months of carrying around the extra weight I would come out the other end stronger but honestly I feel completey unstable around the hips and pelvis and can’t imagine pumping out speed sessions without some serious basic strength training first. I honestly took for granted how “structurally sound” my body was. Now after the the transformation my body has gone through to grow and birth a baby I will have to really focus on building back strength and balance that can handle the intensity and speed of my desired training.

Contending with boobs
To date I have been very fortunate to be able to throw on a sports bra and not have to worry about anything after that in this department. I dare say feeding will bring about some new challenges for running, namely; support, milk supply, lactic acid in the milk and just the overall comfort of the whole thing. Hopefully there are some fantastic maternity and feeding sports bras out there to help me in this area. Keep an eye out in the review section. Also my training is going to have to have the flexibility to fit around my feeding responsbilities. So as much as I will try for routine its not going to be a given and I am just going to have to make the most of the opportunities I get.

Pelvic Floor Muscles
I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one. Suffice to say I could write a whole post on Pregnancy and the Pelvis. Thank goodness the muscles can be trained like any other so there is hope! Kegels here we come!

Emotions
On the odd winter morning when my husband has looked so snug in bed I have struggled to tear myself away but otherwise I generally find it easy to slip my sneakers on and escape for my run. I don’t doubt for one second that having a gorgeous little new born at home will tug at the heart strings when I am trying to get out the door. But I honestly believe that taking this little bit of time for me and my health (mental and physical) will make me a better mother and I hope that focusing on that can keep me on track. Not to mention its going to be a great time for baby and daddy to have together!

Well, it will be interesting to return to this list of things in a few months and compare it to the actual challenges I have faced. What challenges did I not anticipate and what things will be easier than I thought?

I think a good plan is always a good starting point but for this particular goal I know it is going to take more than that. I will also need determination, patience and tenacity to overcome many new challenges… simple things that I have just taken for granted in the past.

So here starts the joy of being a running mummy! Wish me luck!

Where’s the finish line?!?!

I am a very impatient person! I can’t wait to meet this little guy and hold him in my arms. I want to see what he looks like and I am just dying to start our life as a family.

I am also very soft when it comes to pain. I have taken just about as much pelvic pain, and discomfort as I can without loosing my mind. So suffice to say I am finding these final weeks a tad testing.

So much so, that at todays weekly ante-natal check up I struggled to supress the urge to reach over and grab my obstetrician by the collar, shake him violently and threaten him until he agreed to get this thing out of me. I’m sure pregnancy hormones can take a little credit for the irrational thoughts but mostly I’m just impatient and soft.

The hardest thing about all of this is not knowing where the finish line is. The little guy could come tomorrow or he could come in 4 weeks! How do I pace myself to get to the end?

I have always been an advocate for finishing races strong. I (almost) always leave enough in the tank to finish with a little surge and a smile. But I’m afraid this hasn’t been the case with pregnancy. Instead I feel like I went out too hard and now that I’m near the end and having powered through the most of it my body and mind is paying for it. I can’t even fathom how I am going to make it to the end and I get disheartened thinking about the not set finish line.

So screw the finish line. I can’t think about it anymore. I am just going to take one day at a time and keep “putting one foot in front of the other” until I’m done. This is easier said than done for a self-confessed numbers person. Its all about times, splits and countdowns. But not this time, until this little boy is in my arms I am only going to think about the day ahead and enjoying it.

Count down

Now that I am on the official “home stretch” its all about numbers. So here’s a little countdown…

10 weeks until I run again (4weeks + 6 weeks post partum recovery)
9 months since my last run
8 is the number of races I have completed to date
7 days until I am considered “full-term”
6 days I have been pregnancy “pain free” and feeling good again
5 km will be the distance of my first race post baby
4 weeks until baby is due
3 hours I spent reading my R4YL magazine cover to cover today
2 km is the longest walk waddle I have done in the last week
1 Run is all it will take and I’ll be a “runner” again

A lesson learned

The nursry is finished, the hospital bag is packed, the baby clothes are washed and we are off to pre-natal classes today. Sometime in the coming 3-7 weeks the amazing experience of pregnancy will be over and we will start the next exciting journey as a family.

Last night my husband and I were discussing how lucky we were that I have had such a cruisy, healthy and enjoyable (for the most part!) pregnancy. In fact I can’t wait to do it all again. It has been the most amazing 8 months of our lives so far. The excitement, the joy, the intimacy and the love that you share with your partner during pregnancy is so unique, so bonding and so beautiful. I always thought it would be a wonderful experience but I completely underestimated the profound effect it would have on us. So I am glad to say that while I have been on rest duties from running at least my relationship has been strengthening and growing.

Also growing is my running knowledge. I have been alternating between baby books and running books throughout my prgnancy and I have just finished 2 awesome, informative and very inspiring running books. I feel so empowered and and ready to unleash this untappd potential I now know I have. I will return to running with a lot more technical knowledge and a significantly improved understanding of the science that is running. But I will also return to running with a few lessons learned from pregnancy – greater understanding of my body, my mind and their capabilities. Here are some of the main things pregnancy has taught me:

1.My body knows exactly what it needs and I can listen to it and trust it. I have given into my bodys every desire over the last 8 months. If I want to have a sleep I have a sleep if I want salty french fries I have salty french fries. At first (especially when it came to food) I felt like I was just being over indulgent. But by about 5 months I found that I just wanted less. Less sleep, less food, less relaxation. Because I deprived my body of nothing I knew that if I wanted something my body truely needed it and I now don’t want things just because I can’t ordinarily have them or because they are labeled bad or lazy.

2. I completely underestimate what my body is capable of. Mark my words after what my body has just done I will never question what it is capable of ever again. Clocking up high weekly mileage, recovering from injury, running faster times is nothing compared to what my body has undertaken and achieved in the last 8 months. So crazy running goals here I come because I know just how much this bod can do!

3.My body is a gift that I should be grateful for everyday and not take it for granted. I guess this just comes down to being grateful that I can run, that I am healthy and strong enough to persue my running dreams and every day I am out there whether its a good run or a bad run is a gift to be thankful for. No longer can I torture my body for its underperformance or how it does or doesn’t look. This has previously been a battle for me (see body image) but now its all about gratitude and appreciation.

4. My mental being has so much influence over my physical being. I have always believed in the power of the mind and that you must first believe in yourself. But what I didn’t realise was the extent to which being content in life in general flowed on to all other areas of my life (hence why my resolution for 2012 is to focus on inner happiness). I especially didn’t know how it could affect how I felt and performed physically. I guess I never took anytime when it was just me to sit down and just be. But being pregnant I have spent a lot of relaxed time just sitting with my “bump” and being content. I believe this “contentment” has flowed onto other areas and has me not only mentally positive but physically to. So here’s to being happy!

Anyhow there you have it. Such a little thing has changed and grown me so profoundly.

Now I am off to the shops to buy some bigger exercise tights. I am proud to say that I have made it to 35 weeks in my pre-pregnancy exercise tights but now the waist bands are starting to really dig in to where his little head is. So for the comfort of all I am going to succumb to some bigger pants!

The Slow Down

The dreaded slow down has happened! It started in the christmas break and what I originally put down to being on holidays and hot weather I now know is here to stay. gone are the 9km walks and the brisk pace. Now its a waddle and only if I can muster up the desire to do it!

Its been very hot the last few days and I have laid low with my walking but when I do get out I am finding a 4.5km loop is more than enough of a challenge! Sometimes I feel frustrated by my lack of energy or the gap between my mental desires and my physical capabilities. But right on cue I will always get a kick in the ribs or a little wriggle from my new tenant and that reminds me what an amazing thing my body is doing…. growing a baby from only a little speck! On that note I realise that to expect any more from it is just crazy and my frustration is short lived.

My goal now is to listen to my body but try and stay as active as I can with my limited energy and capabilities. This means its time to hit the pool! Can I tell you how appealing the thought of being “weightless” is. I have gained a healthy 9kgs to date but I tell you there are days when it feels like 20kgs! So I have dug out my floatation belt and I am looking forward to some deep water running in the final 6 weeks. Deep water running is so good for working on running technique, stretching out hamstrings and working on stride length so BONUS I will be improving my running while I’m not even running.

In closing even though I am not hitting the intensity and frequency of exercise that I would ideally like I am grateful to be able to exercise at this point in my pregnancy and grateful to be still be feeling good and that both bub and I are doing well. All in all I can’t complain!