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Training for a marathon as a new mother

20 Apr

How time flies. My son is almost one and I have been back into training for a The Gold Coast marathon in July for almost four months. I’m clocking up around 70km a week at the moment and it’s going well. I have to admit, it hasn’t been plain sailing all the way, and at times it has been quite tough. I have often wondered what on earth I am doing but I have stuck with it.

As a relatively new mum it’s a whole new experience just fitting in exercise let alone training for a 42km race. It is do-able but you have to just learn your limits and also be fair to your family and yourself. Were it not for the fact my husband is extremely patient and understanding in all of this I wouldn’t have decided to do it.

I told myself whilst pregnant I would like to do a marathon this year. I felt it would encourage me to get back into fitness. I don’t expect to do a hugely fast time and I am not putting any pressure on myself for me just being able to run one again is going to be an amazing achievement – and running the Gold Coast which is well organised and local is a definite plus.

I wanted to share some tips this week on things I have found in my training since having my baby that if you are in the same position and training for an event you might find useful. The most important thing I have found however is to enjoy it – after all the training especially for a marathon is intense and taking you away from your baby and family so it has to be something you enjoy to be worth doing in my opinion!

Tips to help you get the most out of training for a marathon as a new mother 

Mum and bub

I feel it is important to be enjoying your running as it is taking you away from your family time.

Get checked out and signed off to go

I started training again (as in not walking – I was walking after a few weeks) after 12 weeks of having my son. I didn’t push too hard and took it easy at the gym. I checked with my physio that I was ok to train and she advised it was ok but to take it easy where running was concerned for a bit longer….

I tried as long as I could to take it easy….but I must admit I did push myself back into it but wouldn’t advise anyone do that unless you know your body. Be sensible.

Prepare yourself: it’s hard work

I didn’t train during my pregnancy and a little while before as I didn’t have the best pregnancy – so it had been quite some time since I had trained and boy was it tough when I started training again. I didn’t start my marathon training until my son was roughly 8 months and before that I was struggling with my training. Once I started consistent training following a program from my trainer I found that muscle memory kicked in and whilst the first week or two were really hard my body bounced back gradually and it’s like I’m training for a marathon now not coming back from having a baby.

Don’t expect huge results over night

It does take time coming back to training after having had time off, so don’t beat yourself up if sometimes you are two steps forward one step backwards. It takes time.

Your body had just given birth to a little human being and that is quite traumatic on the body and takes time to get over. Like I said in my last post about remaining focused on training surround yourself with positive people it helps heaps. I figure that going through something like childbirth has to make me stronger right?

Keep a training log to see results

I wear my Tom Tom GPS watch at every training session both inside and outside and I can look back on how my training is going. My average km time has come down over a minute in the last couple of months so when I feel like training isn’t going well I review my training and can’t argue with the log can I? And it helps keep me on track.

There are lots of watches out there you can buy for reasonable prices or if you have a smartphone and don’t mind running with your phone then Map My Run or Strava are great apps to use instead which do the same thing. I’m not a fan of running using my phone strapped to my arm but I know a lot of people that do.

Try not to become fixated on weight

We are constantly bombarded with images of celebrities losing their baby weight in a very short time. Lara Bingle is the latest one I think in 3 weeks according to the gossip mags.

The thing I found the hardest coming back to training was losing the weight and pulling myself back into the Lycra. I was so self conscious with my baby belly and giant wobbly thighs the first time I went into the gym to train I almost didn’t go.

I soon got over it and realised that it wasn’t a big deal but that didn’t stop me from weighing myself a lot. I bought cheap workout clothes from Target telling myself I wouldn’t be in them long and I was going to achieve the weight loss I wanted to….and with the support of my family and friends I did but it didn’t happen overnight.

It took 9 months to grow my baby inside me and it took about the same time plus a month or two to get the weight back off again. Don’t feel pressured and don’t let it get you down. Once you start training and eating right the weight will come off gradually. That’s one of the advantages of a Marathon, there is a fair amount if training so I didn’t even have to really worry for too long.

Be prepared to be flexible

I have found training hard sometimes when my bub is sick or we have had a bad night and he has kept us up all night and then I am meant to then run two hours later, so I’ve learned now when that happens to compromise and not push myself to exhaustion. I sometimes take an unschedule rest day or train at a later time in the day and don’t get stressed about it.

The fact that I’m even managing the training with a baby under 1 is a miracle I think so sometimes it’s important to be flexible. I also found my Baby Jogger useful for training as when I didn’t manage to get to the gym and couldn’t train because there was no one to look after my son then out came the Baby Jogger and I ran with him and bonus – he often falls asleep!

Anyway hope these tips help and like I said the most important thing is to enjoy your training. If you arent then you might be pushing too hard or might want to speak with a qualified professional to help you work out some realistic goals or to even run with a friend to have some company 🙂

As always – Happy Running 🙂

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It’s ok to change your goals – here are a few tips

12 Dec

Before I gave birth I was all set to pop the baby out and get straight back into training to then run the Marathon Du Medoc 5-6 months later and then the New York Marathon in 2015. But do you know I changed my mind – surprisingly 😉 !!

Trying to run a marathon so soon after having my first baby would have been nuts and as it happened we couldn’t get over to France which was a shame as my friend got married half way round whilst running it! But for a good few months in the lead up I punished myself for not being able to do it. It was only when my physio said I couldn’t train anyway running wise in her opinion until I had passed the 3-4 month mark that I thought ok – Zoe once again you are trying to run before you can walk on this one. I asked my running friend in the UK whether he could help with a program and I think he thought I was bonkers!

There are some women out there that publicise how quickly they have gotten back into shape after having their baby but I figure they were firstly probably very fit and secondly probably trained throughout their pregnancy which I did not as I was not allowed to. Ho Hum…

When I finally got back into running it was hard, harder than I thought it would be – I’m back running almost properly now but it is hard and I have no desire to run a marathon at the moment. I am thinking I prefer my shorter distances again and would be happy to stick with them for the moment. I wonder how I ever did it before and sometimes when having to train on the treadmill I think – gosh this is boring just thud thud thud on the treadmill. Every day I train it feels easier and like I said in one of my previous posts I have my running mojo back – finally but yes sometimes it bores me but I think that’s probably normal as with doing anything over and over again.

the girl that runs - it's ok to change your goals

So I figured it’s ok to change goals without you or other people judging – at the end of the day running is something I do and love but I fear sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to achieve and to bounce back like a battery bunny! I’m sure I will be back training for longer distances soon as I know what I’m like and always like to go further and further – but right now I’m happy just running as for so long I couldn’t!

In my work environment I am always telling people they have to have SMART objectives (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) I think for me in my running the Achievable and Realistic areas I need to work on :-D!

So I had a couple of thoughts/tips about training goals and changing them etc:

1. It’s ok. 

No-one has the right to be hard on you (unless you are a professional runner and are being coached!) and we are often our worst critic. Think about your goal and whether it is really something that you can achieve or will it end in you punishing yourself – i.e. trying to run a marathon 5 months after having your first baby having done no major training for a year before! – nuts

2. You can always try another time

Just because you can’t do it now doesn’t mean you can’t do it another time. I know I have at least a couple more marathons in me I am just trying to relax and build up to ten slowly and not pressure myself as I’d be more likely to quit than achieve my goal knowing the way I am.

3. Work out a plan if it helps

If you are like me and need objectives and targets to work towards then why not sit down and make a revised plan. Plan the races you’d like to do and can do in the next 12 months and work out how you will get to your goal which might be running a first/another marathon, running faster etc. Put the plan in place and work towards it with no pressure (easier said than done!)

Tips for staying motivated when injured or unable to train

15 Nov

This week has been another interesting week with my second cortisone injection in my other wrist. This one hurt a lot more than the first and I have been on a bit of a downer wondering what’s going to happen next! My wrist seems to be improving but I haven’t been able to do anything – my family have been helping whilst I rested but being an active person it has been very frustrating and I even froze my gym membership for a week or so to get a bit of rest – I can still run but I have to run a bit funny so my wrist doesn’t pull so I decided to rest!

I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and sometimes things that happen to slow you down are actually a good thing and force you to realise perhaps you needed the rest – so all good.

I was hoping to get a race in before Christmas but it’s unlikely now and I am actually ok with that. I’m intending to start running outside more with the Baby Jogger now bub is old enough so I can’t wait once my wrist is strong enough.

It's hard when we are unable to train but keeping positive and upbeat is the key.

It’s hard when we are unable to train but keeping positive and upbeat is the key.

4 Tips to stay motivated when injured or unable to train 

It’s not forever

Often we see hurdles and setbacks as the end of the world and a real killjoy. I know with being pregnant, then being injured I have certainly felt that way. I don’t think I had ever not trained for so long and it drove me nuts. Friends that I had disappeared as I no longer had those things in common and I felt quite isolated. Often we learn a lot from these experiences and just remember it isn’t forever.

Cruel to be Kind 

In not training because of an injury or health issue or even pregnancy you have to remember it is for a specific reason. It’s not like you just can’t be bothered – there is a specific reason and you should remember that. Running with an injury would be pretty silly just as running when pregnant unless your doctor has given you the all clear.

Other Opportunities

Take the time to use the time for other opportunities – get that book read or call your friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while and enjoy the time off as if you are anything like me when you eventually get back to training you will work extra hard to make up for lost time!

Set a goal for when back training 

When I was pregnant I set all sorts of goals for when my baby was born to give me some motivation to push through the pregnancy. I know dead on week 12 I signed up to a new gym and started slowly getting back into training. I bought a few new gym clothes and was very excited about getting back so I had something to look forward to – but that’s just me – you might have other ideas but it helped me to keep going. I know when I go back to the gym in a matter of days I have set myself some goals to really get myself back into training and a couple of targets which if I don’t make them I’ll get over – but I’m being positive that  I will achieve them!

Anyway onwards and upwards – have a great week of running!

Zoe 🙂

Running outside again for the first time after having my baby – harder than I thought

18 Oct

It’s been a few months now since I got back into running after having my son and in that time generally all of my running has been inside on a treadmill because I haven’t been able to run with the Baby Jogger because baby M was still in his capsule. Well he is finally out and I decided to try and run outside for the first time last week – boy it was a shock to the system. I had forgotten how different running outside is to running inside. I was spoiled on the treadmill thinking I was really getting back to good speeds again.

We went to New Farm Park which is really nice and has the Brisbane River running alongside it and is actually where one of the Brisbane Park Run’s takes place on a Saturday. My husband took Max and walked whilst I figured I would run strongly and feel like a proper runner again…. well i ran around the corner and then my heart felt like it was going to fly up from my lungs and I had to walk!

I felt somewhat deflated at the fact I was so looking forward to running outside and I wasn’t able to continuously and had to walk! I know how the poor tortoise felt now when racing the hare although the tortoise won in the end right! So I figure I will get there – it just takes time like everything else!

New Farm Park by the river

New farm park by the river is a great setting for a nice run. It’s also where one of Brisbane’s park Runs takes place on a Saturday Morning.

I’ve had a few people ask me how I got back into running after having my baby, I’m no expert but I thought I would share what I did as a few tips – see below:

Getting back into Running after having a baby

1. Take it slowly

Don’t think that after just having a baby you’ll be running marathons the following week. I had originally planned to run the Marathon du Medoc in France in September after having my baby in April. I realise now that it would have been too soon and the body needs to heal and harden up. A lot of the body is still soft and not prepared for the effects that running has on the body so I waited to run until 12 weeks. I think that may even have been a bit soon but it comes down to you, your doctor and being sensible.

2. Walk before you run 

I started initially before running again just walking on the treadmill and outside. I took the treadmill speed up a bit as well after a while so I was walking quite briskly and also took the elevation up to push myself harder. Then from there when I was told I was allowed to start running I would run for say 30 seconds and then walk for a minute or two to get used to it. It was a shock to the system to begin with. There are some great walk/run programs you can follow such as this one from Runners World.

3. Measure for motivation

I am very driven by seeing some sort of result and I found it hard trying to get back into running with my belly jiggling and feeling exhausted so I started to log all my sessions on the treadmill at the gym and then use my Garmin outside to measure and I did see improvements which helped motivate and keep me going when I felt like I was getting nowhere. There are some great gadgets out there now that don’t cost the earth even down to using your mobile phone and the apps on there like Strava completely free of charge (there is a paid version as well where you get more stats).  Also I have never been one for the scales but if you are then you could measure yourself at the start of going back to training to monitor improvements but I think it’s important to remember especially if you are breastfeeding that the body has and is still undergoing lots of changes and so exercising too much and limiting your food at this after having a baby is a no no.

4. Enjoy the freedom!

If you find that you are not enjoying the training etc and it is causing you more stress – at this stage of not long having a baby take a breather! I loved getting back into exercise, no longer feeling sick from morning sickness – it gave me great release. Putting baby M into the gym creche gave me a chance to exercise and have a coffee uninterrupted too and it made me a better mum I’m sure just having that break! I also walked with friends with baby M who were really supportive. We’d have a coffee at the gym and then go for a walk and it really made me feel a bit more normal again!

Anyway It’s a beautiful sunny day so I am going to now take advantage of that and that my husband is home and go for a solo run outside 🙂 Happy running 🙂

Please note I am writing from experience and I am not a qualified fitness professional or nutritionist so always check with your GP and qualified fitness/nutrition professionals before embarking on any change to exercise/eating. 

It’s ok not to be perfect

22 Aug

I was umming and ahhhing whether to write this on a published post that everyone could see but figured there might be other people that have felt or currently feel the same way.

Since the birth of my baby in fact since being pregnant I have had getting back into exercise on my mind especially my running. I didn’t think that having a baby would be a big deal and I figured shifting the weight and getting back into it all would be simple. I was going to be super mum!  

To an extent the first bit was easy enough – getting back into exercise and losing the first bit of weight – but I didn’t realise it would be so hard to get back to where I was before or the sheer energy drain that a new born baby can be and so this week I have been feeling a bit down and eating rubbish food and then feeling even more miserable.

I went for a run on the treadmill at the gym earlier this week, I was just cooling down and one of my friends arrived and hopped onto the treadmill next to me and we chatted as I cooled off. I said to her -‘ how come it’s so hard!. It all just feels so hard.’ I was running at 9.5km on the treadmill whereas before being pregnant i could get up to 15km on a good day.

She responded by reminding me that I had just had a baby and had only been back into exercise for 4 weeks. I kind of nodded but I still had this overwhelming desire to be better, to be perfect and get back to where I was. It was only when in Harvey Norman yesterday paying for my purchase with baby M that the penny dropped.

The lady at the check out desk said to me ‘It’s hard isn’t it!’ – I looked up at her – and she said to me ‘You are doing an excellent job – just remember that – but it takes time.’its ok not to be perfect

I almost cried there and then but reflected on the way home that she was right. I have been trying so hard to be a good mum and wanted people to see that I am a good mum but I have been punishing myself for not losing weight quick enough, not getting back into exercise quick enough and not being able to do as much as i could before – but I have a baby now – a beautiful wonderful baby and that is enough.

I think sometimes we spend so much time worrying about what people think about us and trying to be what we think people want/expect us to be that we end up often doing more harm than good. This weeks experiences have really put me in my place and helped me to realise that it’s ok not to be perfect as long as we accept who we are and that that’s enough then that’s all good. It’s hard not to worry about what people think but it is a real downward spiral if we have that on our minds all the time. It doesn’t help when we are constantly bombarded with images from the media with celebrities that appear to be perfect. It’s only later we often read about their melt down. I get tired of seeing people that had bounced back after having their baby within weeks plastered all over the latest magazines. Another good friend of mine reminded me that it takes 9 months to put that weight on – allow at least that to lose it again. 

I want to encourage anyone else feeling the same way I have that you are a beautiful person inside and out and if the people around you can’t see that then you are with the wrong people. Keep doing what you’re doing – you’re doing a great job 🙂 

One step forward – two steps backward….. getting back into running

12 Aug

Hope you are having a good week of training! It’s been beautiful here in Brisbane with gorgeous blue skies everyday. I’ve been taking full advantage getting out and about with baby M. I’ve slowly been getting back into my running which has been great, baby is 15 weeks now so I feel like I’m good to go and managed 5k yesterday walking/running at a very super slow time of 40 mins!! but I’m getting there.

I have a new hindrance now it seems. From lifting baby M in and out of his capsule, in and out of the car and his stroller I have damaged my wrists to the point it hurts all the time when I lift him now 😦  My back is also hurting from lifting him the wrong way so I went to see a physio and she said no strenuous exercise, no weights, no nothing! I said to her in a (Im sure) whining voice – so “no running?” and she said yes for one week….

The physio told me to sleep in a wrist brace (see inset) and I actually woke up in the middle of the night in agony so removed it. Called them the next day and they told me I have to see an Occupational Therapist…wrist

I was a little bit naughty yesterday as I did run but I made a pact with myself if I had any pain (which I didn’t) that i would stop. So it’s back to the physio and an occupational therapist on Friday to see what can be done and in the meantime resting my wrists the best I can and doing my physio exercises! I never realised having babies was so hazardous!

I’m loving being back at the gym and running though. I remember when I was pregnant I kept saying to myself it wouldn’t be long and I would be back running in no time and here I am – yay. I bought new trainers (Kayano 19s on special) and I’m set to go.

Anyway have a great week and happy running !

Back to the gym!

30 Jun

Today was my third time back at the gym after having my little boy – he’s 9 weeks old now 🙂 I started back to training last week as I figured I’d give my body a couple of months to heal.

Great to be back

It was so good to get back into the gym but first I had to get there!

It’s no longer simply racing out the door to the car to the gym but now I have to make sure baby M is fed and nappy bag is ready to go, and then get him into the car and drop him off at the creche. The first time I went back last week I was so nervous leaving him but the girls in the creche were amazing and even came around when I was training to let me know how he was doing – he was asleep and has been all three times I have dropped him off!!

Getting there slowly - 9 weeks

Getting there slowly – 9 weeks

Training

I’m taking it easy training wise and running is off the cards for another few weeks until I hit 12 weeks just to be on the safe side so I have been doing a mixture of:

  • Walking uphill doing a bit of pyramid training – raising the incline by 1.0 every minute and then back down again on the treadmill,
  • Hammering it on the bike on the hill program and
  • Some light weights to get me back into training gently and I love it.

I get the adrenalin rush and plug into my music and it’s so great to be back! My new gym I joined has a cafe too so I make sure I have enough time to have a drink afterwards and then back to being a mum!

 

 

Goals

I’ve set myself a couple of short term goals to get me back into my training:

1. Run a race or two by the end of the year

2. Not stress over times and weight – just to enjoy the training

3. Build weights into my program and struck at it – have never been big on weights but understand their importance in a training program

so the fun begins again and I can’t wait – a few more weeks and I can run – yay!

Happy running 🙂