Post-Baby Running Goals: 13.1 and 26.2!

Post-Baby Running Goals: 13.1 + 26.2

Tackling my running goals 8 months post-baby in Boston.

“Don’t call it a come back…” Nearly one year ago, I had a baby. Over the course of that year, I clawed my way back to running.

I wanted to give myself 9 months to get back into shape. It takes that long to make a baby, so I figured I’d give my body an equal amount of time to unmake it, so to speak. I focused on getting my fitness and speed back before even contemplating upping my mileage and endurance. Why? It’s just what I could wrap my brain around and, honestly, all I had time for.

So over the course of those 9 months I raced three 5Ks and a 4-ish-mile trail run. I didn’t follow any particular training plan. At first, I just ran however far or fast I could muster that day. Eventually, I threw in some faster workouts. And only recently have I started upping my mileage.

Now, I’m training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February, and a marathon later in the spring! I really wanted to target one year post-baby for some big running goals. The Disney Princess Half just happens to perfectly coincide with my daughter’s first birthday, so we’re going to Disney!

I’m not even going to pretend that her first Disney trip is for her. It’s 95 percent for me and maybe 5 percent for her. She’s registered for the Diaper Dash, and has been crawling up a storm in training. Who knows, she might even be walking by then.

And me? The current plan is to run this one as hard as I can (Florida weather permitting) and see where that gets me. And, yes, there will be costumes.

The Comeback

I stopped running around Week 38 of my 42 week pregnancy, then resumed 5.5 weeks post-partum. All told, I took 10 weeks off from running. When I started up again, it felt like the entire contents of my pelvis would fall out. Thankfully, they didn’t.

I’m not gonna lie. Those first few weeks back were tough. The good news is that I was so darn glad to be out there again and not attached to my baby that I savored every step. I celebrated them. I didn’t care how slow or how tired I was, how hot or how difficult it was. I was just so happy to be running again, and happy I had someone to watch baby girl—a network of amazing friends and family who donated their time. Those runs were the only time I spent by myself. And I mean only–I even showered and peed with my daughter in the bathroom with me. Welcome to motherhood.

After 5 weeks back at it, I ran the Race For Hope 5K in May in Washington, D.C. to get a benchmark to measure my progress against. My last race had been while 6 months pregnant at the Dash to the Finish Line 5K in NYC. I was delighted that I beat that time by almost a minute.

Come summer, I got some regular babysitting help–thanks, Mom!–and was able to attack my runs a little bit more. At the end of the summer, I ran a 4-mile-ish trail race at Wine Run RI and the Finish For a Guinness 5K in Rhode Island. Boom! I’d dropped 2 full minutes from that first post-baby 5K and was just 1:20 shy of my all-time 5K PR. Summer running goals accomplished.

I was ready to contemplate training for a longer race. But come September, I started working more and my runs fell off again. I was tired and figuring out how to fit in running with working and breastfeeding and, you know, momming—nothing a bazillion parents before me haven’t done.

It took a few months–and regular childcare help–but I found my groove. I ran another 5K over Thanksgiving, right at the 9-month post-baby mark, and was pleased to find I’d held on to that summer fitness. So I started half-marathon training in December. I’ve worked my way up to a 10-mile long run and counting. I’m on track for those one-year post-baby running goals.

Running Goals Training Strategy

No, motherhood doesn’t change everything, but it does change a lot of things–including my ability to train. But I’ve found a formula that is currently working for me:

1) Run early in the day. I used to be an evening exerciser. No more. Too many variables can go haywire as the day goes on, leaving the possibility to miss a run. If my run doesn’t happen by 4 pm, it’s over. I run into baby dinner and baby bedtime, which of course happen at the time I used to run. By the time I have her asleep, I’m wiped out.

2) Run three days a week. I used to run four, but too often I miss that fourth run, then feel bad about it. One of the runs I’d miss would always be a “workout,” not an “easy” run, then I’d feel doubly bad. But I’m finding three days a week doable. Plus, it mentally feels so much better to think, “Yes, I nailed all three runs!” Than to think, “Ugh, I only did three runs.” Managing expectations.

3) Run targeted workouts. Every run. Yep, this is the FIRST approach, minus all the cross-training. Mama doesn’t have time for that. But three runs a week means no “junk” miles, no “easy” runs. Each step I take has a specific purpose–speed work, tempo, and long run–and a specific pace. I’m following the FIRST training plan, hitting all my targeted paces during workouts, and not stressing over the cross-training. When it happens, great. When it doesn’t, whatever.

And that’s it! I’m hoping this revamped approach to my training will help get me to the starting line at Walt Disney World. 13.1 here I come! Mama said knock you out!

Karla Bruning

About 

Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.

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01 2018

4 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Good luck!

    You know I’m a fan of the FIRST plan, so go for it!
    Elle recently posted..Runblebragging, Nobody Likes itMy Profile

  2. 3

    Congrats on the baby AND on getting back out there!! Hope you have a great Princess Half; it looks like such a fun race!!
    Kate recently posted..Holiday Gear Haul – 2017My Profile



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