Friday, September 15, 2017

Running Update: 20 Weeks Postpartum

So it's probably time to update my running blog about my running...novel idea! I actually really enjoy analyzing my running so this kind of stuff is fun for me #nerdalert.

I gave an update recently on life currently, and briefly talked about maternity leave. I was off for 7 weeks, and the timing worked out that I didn't run until the weekend before I went back to work- so back to work and running at the same time (this was probably really good for me in hindsight). As for working out over maternity leave I was very much on the no-pressure-wagon and did what I could when I wanted to. We walked a lot with the stroller which was just as much for mental sanity and getting out of the house as it was for the physical aspect.

It's worth noting that I really didn't continue to run during pregnancy, so my progression might be slightly different than others. All women are different, all pregnancies and deliveries are different- and all runners are different. My backing off was mostly my choice, I didn't have the desire to run and workout a ton during pregnancy and I embraced the time off. I love racing and have spent the last few years running and training pretty hard and this break came at a great time.

Some might say that the extended time off would make me want to start postpartum running sooner but it was in fact the opposite- I wanted to make sure that I was ready. I published a log of what I did the first 7 weeks postpartum-->here. It's mainly walking, some stretching and strength work and focusing on making sure I didn't do too much too soon. I DID get the itch to start running after a few weeks but fought it off, and stuck to my guns about waiting until my 7 week checkup (had I not had an emergency cesarean delivery I may have considered running  2-3 weeks earlier...maybe).

During the first 7 weeks I also made a point to regularly check in with my abs and assess for any signs of Diastasis Recti or other issues. My doctor also checked me out at my 7 week appointment. While I had a small space it was nothing concerning, and she told me to continue the exercises and things that I had been doing. While the exercises are nothing taxing I do feel like they helped me regain some core control (after my muscles being cut into during surgery) which made life in general easier let alone working out. {Some links to the exercises I have been doing: 5 exercises for D.R., more here, Pelvic Floor exercises, 4 more pelvic floor}

I also have been doing a lot of work with loop resistance bands. I have done these for years and it's something that truly has helped me get stronger, stay healthier and is a great way to build a good foundation while building up miles again. I've got a simple routine and few exercises (literally some of the exercises are just walking forward and back, side to side...simple!) I do that only takes a few minutes- so not a ton of excuses not to make it happen. It's low impact which is helpful too! What's 10 minutes, right?! {Some Links to loop band workouts: James Dunne, Pilates loop band, a few more}

So back to running.... I went for my first run around 7 weeks which was June 17th. From that point on I made a LOOSE plan for each week but it really took a few weeks to even come close to plan. That was much less about how I was physically feeling and more about adjusting to being working mom and also dealing with a few growth spurts with Hannah during that time.

I didn't follow a set rule such as the 10% rule for mileage. But I also didn't add a ton at a time, and I never increased unless I felt ready. My general rule of thumb was that I wanted to finish each week feeling like I COULD have run more miles, even now 20 weeks PP I am still using that rule of thumb for myself. I haven't finished a week where I felt like I couldn't have done more, but I also know that it's a fine line so I am being cautious. There is no award for rushing back to ALL the miles or races after a baby or injury....and it's especially not rewarding if you come back too soon and get injured or burned out.

So that is what my weeks have looked like since my first full week of running again. As you can see, gradual build with a few kind of larger jumps but then letting things level out again. The jump from 20 to 27 miles was bigger than planned but I felt good, and even so I proceeded to hold that mileage for a few weeks and even back off a tiny bit just to make sure I was ready.

A breakdown of the days since running again also shows where I started to throw in some smaller workouts, and gradually build my longer runs. Note: my long runs increased probably a bit more than they should have but I tolerate that well physically and mentally. Long runs are my favorite, and something that is important to me even if not training for a distance race. I have years under my belt of LSD's and it's something I KNOW that I can tolerate, but again I assessed regularly to make sure I didn't overdo it. {not shown on this chart is also that I continued walking a few times most weeks which helps speed recovery but also really helped build my foundation again which I think made my comeback a little bit of easier transition}

Much like mileage, paces are such a relative thing. But it's worth talking about. Pre-pregnancy most of my easy runs were between 7:30-8:30 paces even when training and running a sub-3 hour marathon. Postpartum now, most of my early runs were between 9:15-10:15 pace and now are more closer to 8:45-9:15 pace. The thing that is also different though is that pace doesn't bother me. While I still slowed down on easy stuff before, it was usually a struggle to do so and these days I could go out and plod miles at a slow pace forever and not bat an eyelash.

I have been using my Garmin with optical HR monitor to help me as I get back in shape and make sure I am actually abiding by EASY. Though most of the time I don't even need to or want to look at watch on easy days- I'm just happy to get outside and run. I have a huge appreciation for running for the sake of running and not running for the sake of training that I didn't have before. Though don't get me wrong, I look forward to being in training again and having another goal to work towards but that will come in time.

I ran my first postpartum race at 15 weeks postpartum, as there was Bergen 5k which I have not missed in years and wasn't going to let this year go by without running. I knew I wouldn't be in peak shape but I also knew the timing would be really good to use as a fitness test. I ran a solo 5k time trial on July 4th in 23:17 (7:30 pace) which was a good test but Bergen in August was a good race situation test to see how I had improved. Between July 4th solo TT and Bergen on August 12th I ran a few fartlek runs for workouts as well as some 400 repeats but nothing crazy.

Bergen is a competitive race but I was just excited to go out there and be back in the environment and see what I could do. I was excited to have Hannah there and knew that it would help me push to see her sooner. I went out too fast (6:16 hahhahahaha) but stayed consistent around 6:47-6:48 for the rest and finished in 20:47. I was really happy with that time and it was great to rip off the bandaid and race again. It was also nice to have a true race I could use to calculate my Vdot and training times moving forward.

Also, having my baby girl at the finish was the best thing ever.

Speaking of Hannah, I love stroller running a lot more than I thought I would. Does that make me sound bad that I wasn't sure if I would like it? Who cares, it's the truth. I am a solo runner, have been for a long time and it's something that works well for me. The first few stroller runs were done with our City mini GT (not a running stroller despite the brand being named baby jogger) but our car seat had an adapter that worked with it so it was better than nothing. It's actually not horrible for running, at least shorter and slower stuff.

Once I realized that I liked stroller running with Hannah, I found a car seat on a mom swap for cheap (with tags on and all!) that would work with my running stroller. Buying a second car seat just for running seemed silly but it was a smart move. I LOVE using my actual running stroller and it is definitely easier. We have a Baby Trend expedition jogger, it's considered a "low end" stroller by most runners but honestly I have some friends who have thousands of miles on theirs BT and no issues. I'm not saying BOB's and Thules aren't worth the money, but I think it was the right call for us getting the BT one to start. I don't feel limited with it at all. (The city mini is a great stroller and we love it for everything else...don't want to make it sound like we don't use/love that thing still- it was a great hand me down that gets used super frequently for family walks, shopping and public market trips).
Mini loves stroller runs!

Hannah does GREAT in the stroller and it will be bittersweet when I don't need the car seat for her in it and I won't be able to stare at her cute face while I run. Though, my little nosy-nellie will love being able to look forward and see so much more when she is turned around! I usually put amazon music on my phone on speaker and put it in the pocket on the stroller while I run. We both like the tunes and I'm still very aware of what's around us. I don't run with the stroller all the time, and there are days where I really need my chill solo runs and I get them- but the stroller is a great option for me to get my runs in but also spend time with Hannah. Planning for postpartum running was helpful and I'm finding what works and doesn't for us.

So where am I now and where am I headed with running this fall? Honestly, I don't really know and I'm okay with that! 

For starters I am running Rochester Half marathon this weekend, and I am actually really excited about it. It's going to be fun and exciting to be in the racing scene again and I know I'm in better shape than I was a few weeks ago so it'll be cool to see what I can do. It's a hilly course, but I'm not looking to break any records and really just want to soak in the energy.

Beyond that? I really think I'm just going to maintain miles, workouts, and throw in some races here and there the rest of the year. I have a list of some races that are potentially going to happen but most will be game time decisions based on how things are going in running and life with a baby! This weekend may be the only half I do this fall or I may find one other to do later on as a progression but I'm not super fixed on it. I like the thought of jumping in some 5k, 5 miles, and 10ks between now and December.

IF (BIG IF) I can maintain mileage and base throughout the rest of the year I will most likely pick a late spring race to train for. BUT (A BIG BUT), that will be made at year end and also be made with a lot of factors that need to be considered (where I am at with Hannah, my job, how running is going, and what things look like for selling our house and moving in the spring). Most days I feel like I'm TRYING to be superwoman as a working mom but I don't want to run myself into the ground and put too much on my plate. With that said, a marathon will most likely happen next year- the itch has started to come back and I miss distance. I have some long term goals I still want to work towards and having a kid has not changed that for just changes how and when I may go about those goals. Next year is going to involve selling/buying houses, Hannah turning ONE, and a wedding....sooooooo running I love you but you're going to be the fifth wheel most of the time.

I have been keeping weekly training logs going as Barley over at Salty Running so you can follow along over there, I'm also on Strava if you want to giggle at me running endless neighborhood circles with the stroller.

This post got long so I pulled some things out to put in another post that has answers to some questions I have gotten. Running and breastfeeding/pumping questions. Sports bras for mama's (because man is it different), certain products and clothes that help (postpartum bodies are so different and man things chafe when you haven't run in a while!), maintaining a milk supply with running, and also how my nutrition and diet have changed with if you have any questions let me know and I'll put them in there!

***Edited to add a disclaimer----I'm not a professional, nor an expert. This is MY personal experience and obviously my first time through postpartum stuff. So take what I say with a grain of salt and remember that everyone is different***

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Life Update: 19.5 Weeks Postpartum

Let's see here, last I wrote was Hannah's birth story (when she was already two months old). I had a post all jazzed up about my maternity leave and life, the internet ate it (or I accidentally deleted it before it got posted) and I don't feel like re-writing it. The short of it is that I was off for 7 weeks and it wasn't long enough for baby snuggles and bonding but at the same time it was just long enough for my mind. Sitting in a house with a newborn is incredibly snuggly and lonely all at the same time. Netflix binges, yeah they're great...until you kill like 10 seasons of 5 different shows and leave an indent on one end of the couch where you are constantly sitting and milk-maiding. Being cooped up (even though busy with a newborn) was challenging, and if anything increased my anxiety. Going back to work was hard, but in some ways it actually made life a little easier for me, but we will get to that later.

So here we are over four months into being a mom, and I'm getting the hang of things. By getting the hang of things I mean I basically figure things out and if I don't know I ask one of the many moms in my life and go from there. Some things came really easy to me and others feel like rocket science. Sometimes I use google, but that usually results in a meltdown about how Hannah is going to have a leg fall off or grow a second head. So, usually I just lean on people I trust. Can we just seriously talk about how I have NO idea how I would have done this mom thing as a teen, or early 20-something, or even how the hell I'm doing it now? Anyways, you get the idea. Momming is amazing and challenging all rolled into one and I wouldn't change it for a thing.

Unless someone knows how to train a lab or a pug to change diapers or at least empty the diaper genie...I would totally change some things if we could make that happen.

Back to reality though, which involved neither our lab or our pug changing diapers and they are probably sound asleep at home while I type this. I went back to work at 7 weeks postpartum, I'm incredibly lucky to have the time home that I did, and to have a flexible enough job where going back wasn't a TOTAL shock to the system, just 95%. I work 5 days a week at my day job and I also went back to the restaurant part time usually only one night a week though. It's not easy but it's good for all of us.

Things at home are good, crazy but good. I thought I had online shopping down before, and had no idea how much of a savior it would be with a baby. We used prime for a lot of things before, and now the biggest thing is subscribe & save (specifically 20% off diapers with it!). A friend also got me started on using Ebates, which has changed my shopping habits more but also made it even more helpful for me to do online instead of loading little miss up into the car for days on days of errands. We still shop once a week but it's much more streamlined and the rest of the stuff just shows up on my front porch for the mailman to get his strength training in.

Being a working mom so far has been fairly straight forward. Hannah has amazing childcare between family and friends, and usually it's just a matter of remembering where I have to take her each day and who is going to pick her up. With our work schedules, it's usually me who is on drop-off and pickup duty but Brian tackles other things that make life a lot easier. I thrive off routine and lists and being a mom has made that even stronger- give me ALL the lists, post it notes, and talking myself through the morning to make sure I don't forget anything.

There has been a LOT of trial and error, but I think that comes with anything but especially being new parents. We are figuring out what works for us, and Hannah and all of us as a family.

Hannah is doing amazing, and is my favorite little person in the world. She is really coming into her own personality and changing so fast (I know everyone tells you it goes fast, but man...they aren't lying to you!). Being a preemie baby, she is a little behind on some things and has fell typically a week off schedule (based on the wonder weeks) but this isn't super concerning to anyone given her being a "35 weeker" and those schedules are for "full term" or "40 weekers". I still like the book though, and find it's a good reference.

Surprising to no one, she is a great eater like her mama. She nursed super well for a few weeks and then her reflux got the best of her (and all of our shirts, bedding, and carpets) and we realized that something had to give. She has been on zantac (per her pediatrician) and it helps wonders, on top of that I am exclusively pumping now and we use special bottles which help a ton (when she nurses she eats too fast which made reflux worse). Exclusively pumping is time consuming, but I love that it's an option (and one that I think is often underutilized), I have a great supply so it works for us. Fed is best, however she gets the food is A-OK by me. We supplemented with preemie formula the first few weeks(per her ped) to help her gain weight but she has been on straight breastmilk since about 4 or 5 weeks as she caught up pretty quick. Now here we are starting her on single grain oatmeal once a day (WHAT OMG TIME SLOW DOWN), again shocking to no one...she loves it.

Let's see here, she has been sleeping in her crib for about a month and a half now...she has amazing head control even being small, she hates pushups (I feel you babe, I really do), and she kicks like there is no tomorrow. We bought her a kick and play piano and smarty pants figured it out pretty fast that she makes sounds and's an amazing tool for her to figure things out and for me to make dinner with less interruptions.

Loves: Clifford on TV, the book The Itsy Bitsy Spider, Ferdinand and The Little Engine that Could. We "read" her The going to bed book every night before bed (I know it by heart now so I more just say it to her while we get her ready), Ducky the pacifier, her baby recliner (Boppy lounger), all of the stupid noises and faces we make that you can think of, leaves and being outside, stroller runs or walks

Dislikes: Arthur on TV, The Magic Schoolbus book (leads to serious tears and screams), taking the boogers out of her nose, taking the bottle out of her mouth to burp her, sitting in her car seat without it moving(traffic jams are FUN and usually involve me singing random songs to her).

Overall she's doing great and doctors are happy with her progress. She needs some baby physical therapy (yes, it's a thing) for her neck/shoulder but it's just a minor thing right now and not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Being her mom is one of the best things ever, I'm so tired and happy and amazed that she is mine.

While Hannah is rocking her first few months in the world, I'm doing my best to adjust to life as well. Postpartum hormones, anxiety and transitions are incredibly overwhelming and unpredictable. After a few weeks I could tell I was struggling a bit more than I originally thought and opened up with my doctor (which is really hard...because honestly I was so afraid to tell my doctor how I felt and her saying to take my kid away from me or something). Postpartum OCD is real, it's messy, but we are getting through it and I don't have issues talking about it. I won't let it be Voldemort, I won't make myself more afraid by not talking about it. I'm on Zoloft, I have amazing support, and I RUN. We are all happier, healthier and better taken care of this way. I truly do think going back to work helped immensely as I feel stronger mentally when I am productive and my days have a little more of a schedule to them. I hate the term "self care" but man do I have to make certain things a priority for me or everyone else will suffer to.

In all seriousness though, life is good. Messiness aside, we are figuring things out and soaking in every moment. This is a new phase of life and I'm loving it even when it's really hard. Our relationship has changed in so many ways, but that comes with shifting identities and roles. As much as I fell in love with Hannah when she was born, I also fell in love with Brian all over again watching him become a dad. Sue me for the cheesiness but man it's so true. I've also connected with some amazing women being a new mom, and lucky to have friends who understand life is different these days but they are just as amazing supportive and understanding as they would be otherwise.

Yeah, life is good. I love our family.

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