The 6 week postpartum running update.

For fear of totally inundating you with a vomit of words on the screen, I’ll give a quick update, then focus on how I’ve managed to return to running and training amidst the millions of hours of breastfeeding, pumping, diaper changing, and on some miraculous days, getting my own life together and taking a shower! WOOF.

First date night out! 5 day old baybay

6 weeks. It’s the time in a newborn’s life when they “wake up.” All of a sudden this tiny little thing has LUNGS! They discover their hands and feet, and they even start to socially smile.

6 weeks. This is the week I went back to work, and Jon began his manny duties (he coined this term, not me). I will be honest and say it was a pretty rough transition in our house. Jon was incredibly helpful the first 6 weeks of Emerson’s life, but nothing quite prepares you to be a solo parent while the other whisks off to work. At the end of the day, I come home from my job all energized and happy to see them, and he is utterly exhausted. It’s all such a learning process. One thing I do know: he really is the best dad, and I can’t imagine a better person to be there for our daughter at this stage in her life.

6 weeks. By this point, I’ve been running for 4 weeks. I was so surprised when my midwife cleared me to begin exercising (“with caution”) at 2 weeks postpartum. While I was incredibly fortunate to have an easy labor and delivery, I know that I couldn’t have recovered so quickly had I not had a plan in place. At just 2 days postpartum, I was ready to do short walks and begin core and pelvic exercises. Prior to giving birth, I put together a recovery plan, and because it worked so well for me, I want to share!

baby’s first visit to the track.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to do a week-by-week breakdown of what I did recovery-wise that helped me bounce back so quickly. By the time this post goes live, I’ll be nearly 2 months postpartum, and up to about 30 miles/week with one speed workout + one long run. Overall, I feel good.

When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and coming up with this plan, I remember trying to find some sort of similar guide for how to come back safely to running, and what you need to do to ensure you are doing what’s best for you, your body, and your baby. Unfortunately, a lot of women leave the doctor’s office after their postpartum checkup, and are told they can exercise again, but that’s about it. What is safe and reasonable is usually left out of the conversation. Additionally, while there are some very broad resources out there, I couldn’t find anyone’s personal journey, which is what I find to be most valuable. I’m looking forward to sharing what worked for me, and hope you’ll follow along!

6 weeks with this cute easter egg. 

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Snow Day Survival: Day 2

Because we are all getting a little cabin feverish over here . . . So I actually ended up going into work yesterday, and the photo above is how I felt about it. This morning I woke up and my … Continue reading

#KeepingItReal

You guyssssss, I did it again. Fell off the blog wagon. Good thing I don’t do this blog thing to gain followers, because I think that’s one of the keys to having a regular readership—consistency. Ha. Oh well.

I have a few drafts waiting to be published, as well as a few race recaps, but as I was doing my post-run foam rolling/stretching this morning, I decided I should do a “Keeping it Real” post. I love this movement Lauren Fleshman started. So much.

To bring you up-to-date, I took 3 weeks off running COMPLETELY recently, and I’m just now getting back in the swing of things. I feel awkward, a little pudgy, and out of shape. But, it was absolutely necessary. I felt some twinges in my knee that didn’t feel right, and after a really hard 8 months of training and racing, it felt only necessary to be kind to both my mind and body and give them some rest. So, that’s what I did. Ironically (or really not so ironically), during those three weeks, it seemed like a ton of elite runners I respect (Hellooo Tina Muir!!), wrote key articles on the importance of rest and recovery. That honestly made my time off so much easier, knowing without a doubt I was doing the right thing. Was it optimal timing for the St. Jude Memphis ½ marathon coming up? Nah. But, honestly, I probably shouldn’t have even signed up for St. Jude in the first place with all my crazy running this summer and fall, and zero planned recovery. Whoops. You learn and you adjust. That’s what I love so much about this sport. I’m constantly learning what works best.

So, here I am, 4 weeks out from St. Jude, a little out of shape, but I feel no sad feelings because I truly had a phenomenal 8 months of PRs out the wazoo, and tons of happy running. I can’t complain one bit. After a fun race at St. Jude on December 6th (no plans of PR’ing, just going to run it because I already signed up for it, and it’s a great cause.), I’ll begin a new training cycle with my focus being the 10k and ½ marathon this spring. It should be fun, but also really humbling too because I’ll be running St. Jude with a teeny bit of me wishing I were racing it.

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So, what did I do with my time off? First of all, I didn’t cross train. I chose not to, because a.) I mentally can’t handle the elliptical for more than 10 minutes. It’s awful. And b.) I wanted to rest completely from all cardio.

What I DID do, was be proactive with my time. I visited a few physical therapists to look at some of my weaknesses, including one who specializes in gait analysis, got two deep-tissue massages (helloooo treating myself!), went on some perfect fall walks with Eli, and started working on some muscle imbalances I need to fix before this next training cycle. I really just lived in the present, and tried my best to embrace where I am at the moment, and not freak out about getting out of shape. Trusting the process!

This week was my second week back, and like I said, I do feel awkward, and slooowwww. In the spirit of honesty, all my runs this week were around 9:30-10:30 pace! Yes, that’s correct. I am taking my easy/recovery runs very seriously (something I have always felt passionate about!). How am I supposed to do my 1500 meter pace workouts at sub 5 minute pace, and my 5k pace workouts at 5:30-45 pace like I was doing at the end of this last training cycle if I’m not fully recovered, rested, and ready to hit it in a few weeks? It is impossible to hit those paces if I’m not recovered. So there’s that.IMG_9677.JPG

I hope you are enjoying this fall season, and embracing where you are currently, wherever that may be. Trust the process and live in the present, I promise your outlook will be a lot less frazzled. Happy Friday!

 

 

Learning How to Breathe

Hi, my name is Katie and I’m a professional side-stitch cramper.  Every runner I know has at some point experienced this terrible, awful, no good “Please just go away!” pain. For me, personally, it has gotten to the point where I have finally thrown up my hands and said, “We are going to figure this out if it’s the last thing we do. (add in a little ,”damnit” at the end of that and it really drives home my point 🙂 .)

Let’s first go over what exactly is a side-stitch, and what the general consensus is for the cause of this monster:

  • The sharp cramp/pain develops under the rib-cage of either side of the stomach. For me, it’s always guaranteed to be on the right side. Although it doesn’t help, I usually end up intensely grabbing my side with my hand to try and make it go away. I have been known to grab my side a lot. During last weekend’s side-stitch marathon 1/2 marathon, I held my side so tight, it ended up bleeding during the race. OKAY THAT’S NOT NORMAL. See the picture below for the spot after it healed a couple days later.

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Most agree the side stitch is caused by one of the following scenarios:

  • Shallow breathing, causing a lack of blood flow to the diaphragm. 
  • Weak core muscles.
  • Dehydration, or the opposite–too much water

I italicized the first bullet point because that is what my post is about today. When I first began my research on the awful side cramp and it’s predecessors, I began really paying attention to my core exercises, or lack thereof at the time, and making sure I am plenty hydrated. After about 8 months, I can honestly say I have those two under control. Strong core and plenty of water? Check. Still side cramp issues? Check check check.

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Core exercise routine. 2x per week.

Instead of giving up or saying, “I’m just going to have the side stitch forever and ever,” I refuse to accept it and I’m doing my research. This is what I have found thus far.

I started my research with an article based on the popular book by Budd Coates, entitled, “Running on Air.”  This article BLEW MY MIND. The author and expert behind this theory is Budd, who at the time, was sick of being plagued by injuries (understandable), and set on a mission to find out why.  What he came up with was a common breathing pattern mistake most runners make. Hang with me. I’ll explain.

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Most runners follow an even breathing pattern, meaning they inhale for the same amount of cadences (foot steps) as they exhale. For example, most runners take a breath in, while taking two steps, and then they breathe out, while taking two steps. What is wrong with this? Well, this causes you to exhale while planting the same foot. (For me, it’s always the right side).  Annndddd, what’s wrong with this? Well, when one exhales, physiologically, they relax their core and body in general for a second, which also happens to be putting the greatest amount of stress on the side you are planting with. Are you with me? Exhaling=relaxed body=greater amount of weight placed on the foot doing the step.

I found this SO interesting, because ironically, every one of my injuries (whether minor or season ending) have been on my right side, the same side on which I continuously exhale, and the same side I continue to get this terrible side cramp! MIND BLOWN.

Budd says this can all be avoided by changing our breathing patterns from a 2:2 to a 3:2. This means instead of inhaling for two steps and exhaling for two, essentially one would inhale for three steps, and exhale for two. This switches up the foot you land on each exhale, subsequently creating an equilibrium of stressors. Obviously, this takes a lot of practice. If you are like me, I never think about “How to breathe,” while running. Who does? It’s not that hard, you just breathe, right!? Well, changing from a natural 2:2 pattern to a 3:2 is not as easy as it might seem. In fact, when I started trying this out, I did it on a treadmill, and I also began to realize how SHALLOW I breathe! MIND BLOWN. This is me below on my first treadmill run trying out the new breathing pattern. I used a 3:2 pattern while I was running easy, and then changed to a 2:1 (inhale for 2 steps, exhale for 1 step) when I sped it up to tempo/faster than tempo pace.

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So, after some research and trying out this whole breathing thing, what are my thoughts??

  • I think there is definitely some merit to it.
  • Today on my 10 mile run, I started getting a cramp, and consciously focused on deep breathing and making sure I was doing the 3:2 pattern for a good 2 miles, and it went away. MAGIC?!?!
  • I am going to continue working on this, as well as deep breathing (from my belly rather than my chest), and will log how I feel after a few more weeks of practice.

 

Spring 1/2 Marathon Training: Week 12 of 16

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 “This week was a little weird. Cue the “middle of the road smiley face” above.  I was in a bit of a racing funk. You know, thoughts like these:
-“I really just don’t think I’m capable of my goal time on saturday.”
-“My motivation to race this weekend is zerooo.”
-“I feel like (insert expletive). My legs, and well, my whole body for that matter, feel like they weigh about 10,000 lbs.”

WAHOO! YAY FOR RACE WEEK!

Needless to say, I let those emotional thoughts just roll on through, realizing I would need to pull it together on Saturday. I did (!), but the week in general was just blahh.

Monday: 7.5 easy miles, 8.20 pace. Hips + Core Work during lunch break
Nothing fancy on the run here. 5:30 a.m. usual route with the gang (I run with 4 friends every morning). The only thing I wrote in my training log was, “Need to get something for my stomach.” Dairy just doesn’t work well with my digestive system. It’s terrible, and the last time I had to take something for it was in September of 2013 (I try to avoid dairy as much as possible). But, it happens, folks. 

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my training group (L to R: Audrey, Me, Beth, Tiff)

Tuesday: 6 miles, 8.09 pace.
Same time (5:30am), same downtown route, same friends. I think if we ever raced this route, we would slaughter the field. Except this morning, I was recovering from said medicine the day prior. Had to do a pit stop at the downtown gym 2 miles into the run, but after that, golden. 

Wednesday:  1 mile w/u, 5 miles at 6.48 pace, 1 mile c/ d. + Core
Beth’s goal time for Boston is the same pace as my goal 1/2 marathon, so our tempos work out nicely this training cycle. She planned on running the full this weekend, so we did a quick 5 miles to get our legs moving for Saturday. It took a few miles to get into it, but we finished strong, and we both agreed we felt ready for Saturday.

Thursday: complete rest. 

Friday: easy 5 miles in the a.m. with Beth

Saturday: Andrew Jackson 1/2 Marathon RACE DAY!
race re-cap coming soon, but I ran a 1.31 and a huge PR! Also grabbed first place overall female! It was a great day 🙂

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Beth and I right after she crossed the finish line

 

Sunday: Easy post-run shakeout with Beth; 4 miles
We talked about how we felt the day before (she did the full; we both felt pretty beat during and after the race). It was a great talk-through session about life and training. Thankful for her friendship