Post-baby Comeback Training Update: 7 weeks postpartum

season clearance-2

The end of last week marked my third week of running since having Liam. In the past three weeks I have exclusively run hill repeats, first twice a week and last week, three times. Typically it takes your body 2-3 weeks to see gains in cardiovascular fitness once you’ve started a certain type of training. As your body adapts to the stress it’s good to move on to a different stress. All running training is a balance of intensity and volume. My training had a high intensity for the last three weeks with hill repeats so this week I’ll be running less intensely but adding more miles. So for the next three weeks I’ll be focusing on adding volume (building mileage). So I’ll go from running twice a week, to running three or four times a week.

Last week, especially towards the end of the week I noticed a decisive shift in my body. It feels a lot stronger and fully recovered from child birth. At 3-4 weeks postpartum, even though I felt good, I’d say that my body didn’t completely feel “healed.” My workouts reflected how I felt, here’s what I did:

Monday: (morning) Run. I took my run to a different hill, mostly because I needed a mental break from half-mile, 200ft elevation repeats. The run to the hill incorporated more flat running and I felt good on the flat portion.

I saw the PT on Monday afternoon and she was pleased with my progress and said I had gained strength and stability in the last two weeks since seeing her. We talked about returning to Barre class and she recommended modifying some of the moves: specifically c-curve and plank variations. I had very minimal separation of the abs, but she recommended not doing these moves because they could potentially strain and cause separation of the ab wall. So we talked about ways to modify the c-curve and plank so as to still challenge myself, but protect my still-healing body.

Tuesday: (morning) Strength and PT

2×20 kettlebell swings, high pulls, thrusters
2×10 modified plank push up
2×20 single leg lunges
2×10 pull ups and reverse pushup
eccentric calf raises
PT drills

Wednesday: Rest

 

These new tanks are now in the shop! runfarshop.com

 
Thursday: (morning) Run. Second hill workout of the week. I felt strong on the first two repeats but struggled to finish as strong as I started. This was the workout I had to tell myself: It doesn’t have to be fast. It just has to be. Splits: 4:57/451/459/512/501
Friday: (afternoon) I had good intentions of getting up early to workout but it never happened so I squeezed in an afternoon workout while the kids played outside. Sophia even joined in. I combined strength moves with the kettle bell with agility and form drills:

  
Three sets of each:

KB swing 20
Squat jumps 10
High knees 40

KB high pull 20
Butt kicks 40
Cone jumps 40

Four square hops 20
Skaters 20
Toe Taps 50

Saturday: (mid-morning) As great a sleeper as Liam has been, he woke up every hour from 11pm until about 2am when he slept for almost three hours. I had wanted to get up and run and get it out of the way, but was too exhausted. So I slept in and thanks to my hubby watching the kids, tackled the run mid morning. It was already hot when I got out there, but I managed the five hill repeats to finish off my last hill run. Splits: 450/453/501/506/506

Sunday: Massage and Rest

Thoughts on the week: I’ve noticed old aches and pains cropping up: calf tension and hamstring tightness. I mentioned them to my PT and she suspected that getting back into running is aggravating them a bit. Even though I’ve improved in strength, stability and form I need to be vigilant now about stretching and foam rolling so that tightness doesn’t turn into imbalance and injury. So I’ve been focusing on stretching after every workout. I also scheduled a massage.

I’m feel like I’m further ahead than I thought I’d be at 7 weeks postpartum. At least I’m much further ahead than I was after my second pregnancy and and that is with a much more conservative approach this time around. After my second I ran at three weeks postpartum and then was sidelined for several weeks. So at 7-8 weeks postpartum I was just returning to running. Whereas now, I have three solid weeks of running under my belt, but the running I did was very easy on the pelvic floor. Hills repeats, they may be tough but they sure are good for protecting the pelvic floor and making fitness gains at the same time.

–Sarah

It just has to be.

It just has to be

As much as I’m about “Embracing the Hill,” I’m not exactly bounding out of bed in the morning to go run my hill repeats. For the last three weeks all of my runs have been hill repeats and each week I’ve added another repeat. I’m up to five repeats this week.

On Thursday my alarm went off at 5:15am, just an hour after I had fed Liam. I felt tired, but the though of running alone in the morning light got me dressed an out the door. I stood there at the end of the driveway waiting for my Garmin to kick-in thinking and trying not to think about the effort of five, half mile hill repeats.

“They don’t have to be fast. They just have to be,” I told myself.

It’s a mantra that I’ve repeated often, usually before early morning tempo runs when all my body wants to do is climb back into bed and snuggle deep into the pillow.

It just has to be. 

Somehow that mantra takes away all the pressure and expectations of what a run “should be.” And more often than not when I focus on just getting out there I find the effort to execute the run at speeds I didn’t think were possible when I was wiping the sleep from my eyes just a few minutes earlier.

Often times we let our expectations of the way things “should be” get in the way of doing whatever it is we’ve set out to do.

It doesn’t have to be ______. It just has to be. 

Maybe if we embrace that thought, it will free us to press into what we are really capable of: to find  a strength that’s hidden beneath the doubt.

 

Do expectations (either your own or others) ever keep you from doing something?

Speaking of expectations have you seen my article for Runner’s World Zelle? Check it out HERE.

–Sarah

I love connecting with readers! You can find me here:

Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com

Twitter: @RunFarGirl

Instagram: instagram.com/runfargirl

Facebook: Facebook.com/runfargirl262

Pinterestpinterest.com/runfargirl

Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney

 

Compatible: Can I accept my body and still want to change it?

Sometimes it’s good to go back and re-read old posts. I wrote this post two years ago, right around eight months postpartum with my son Jack. At the time I had lost most of the baby weight but wanted to ditch the rest. But felt conflicted, as you’ll read. I’m feeling the same conflict now: I’ve lost most of the baby weight, but would like to ditch the rest. I know that it will come off naturally when I start to run more (I’m just running twice a week now), but there’s part of me that doesn’t want to wait. And that part of me thought that counting calories last week would be a “good way to gauge where I’m at.” I used to count calories religiously, it was consuming and became obsessive. When I started to eat intuitively over six years ago all of that changed and I naturally arrived at a weight I’d always been striving for. So you’d think that years later I would have learned that going back to counting calories as a method to lose the baby weight is futile. And as I could have predicted my foray in to counting calories last week lead not to a jump start in weight loss, but to weight gain. Then I came across this old post and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I needed a little bit of my own advice; to be reminded of the wisdom I’ve gained from past experiences. I’m headed into this week with a new perspective and a little bit more patience to allow my body to do what it needs to do. -Sarah

*   *   *

“She turned to the sunlight    And shook

Last night I was trying to explain to Sophia the word “compatible.” I tried to condense the meaning into three-year old speak: “compatible means they work together,” I said. It was all in reference to our iPod dock and which iPhones and iPods could or could not be charged on said dock. Our conversation came to an end but I kept thinking about this idea of compatibility in regards to two, seemingly conflicting ideas that have batting around my head lately: can I accept my body and still want to change it? Are those two sentiments compatible? 

For the most part I have come to a place of acceptance and contentment with the body that I have, if I had not I’d still be bent over a toilet bowl after every meal. I used to loath my body, consumed by the thought of changing it through drastic measures: purging. Now my body, my weight and appearance, is an afterthought taking a backseat to life and all its joys and responsibilities.

But last week I came face to face with the fact that the body I feel content with on a daily basis is not the body I see in my race photos. In my mind I feel strong and lean: my arms can hoist small children high above my body, my legs can run fast around a track or pound out mile after mile on a country road, my belly has been expanded to house small babies and then I’ve given birth to those babies. But when I look at the photos from my last race (the race where I ditched my shirt and hat and ran in only a sports bra. gasp!)  my critical eyes see a body that looks soft and weak: arms with no visible evidence of muscle, a soft belly that jiggles with every step, thick legs with the dimples of cellulite, a stride that makes me look more like a lumbering elephant than a bounding gazelle.  I’d dwell on these thoughts for a moment, dismiss them with a quick thought of acceptance for my body and then carry on with my day.

Last week I had nothing but critique for my body as pictured in these photos. Not the feeling I had on race day. On race day I felt confident and strong, proud of my body even.

Last week I had nothing but critique for my body as pictured in these photos. Not the feeling I had on race day. On race day I felt confident and strong, proud of my body even.

But dismissing these critical thoughts and simply telling myself that my body is acceptable as it is, or by reading the encouraging comments at the end of my post that “you are beautiful,” has not brought lasting resolution. There is a tension here between these two ideas: between the idea of being content and of wanting to change, and tension always pushes towards resolution. But does resolution mean choosing one or the other?

It seems to me that these two ideas are in a dynamic relationship. Contentment is not a destination at which we can arrive, it is an active endeavor and requires vigilance, it means weeding through thoughts of discontent and deciding which ones are constructive and which are destructive. And discontent is not definitively negative, a certain level of discontent can be healthy. Critically thinking about the way that live can yield growth.

I thought of it in terms of my three-year old daughter Sophia. We unconditionally accept and love who she is, but there are moments when we do not accept or condone her behavior and we seek to change it. It is not one of the other, it is dynamic, fluid constantly changing and evolving.  So it is with our relationship with our bodies: there must be over arching acceptance and a vigilance for contentment, but there can also be a desire to change.

When I think about the critical voices that picked apart my appearance in my race photos it is clear to me that those are destructive voices. They come from a place of insecurity, brought on by exposure to images of women who have what I think will make me happy: muscular arms, hard abs, lean legs. Those feelings of insecurity undermine my contentment and ultimately my happiness. But there can be constructive discontent, like the discontent I feel with my 5K PR because I know that with proper training and coaching I am capable of running much faster. Or the discontent I feel at the end of the week when I know I didn’t do as much  core work as a should have, not because I want a six pack but because I know that a strong core will protect my body from injury and allow me to keep running hard. The discontent that pushes us to excellence, to work at whatever you do with all our heart, that is the discontent that is healthy.

I would not necessarily say that we want to find a balance between these two things, because I think finding a balance implies that they are of equal value at all times. No, there are times when being content must outweigh our desire to change. And there are times when we set aside our contentedness to push ourselves that much further. Do they work together? Maybe? I’m not sure. It seems the idea of accepting my body and wanting to change it is a dynamic, fluid relationship. One which I have not mastered…but I hope to some day.

What do you think? Are you content with your body? How do you silence those (destructive) critical voices? What critical voices are healthy? How do you differentiate between the two?

–Sarah

 

Want more from RunFarGirl? You can find me here:

Twitter: @RunFarGirl

Instagram: instagram.com/runfargirl

Facebook: Facebook.com/runfargirl262

Pinterestpinterest.com/runfargirl

Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney

Post-Baby Comeback Training Update: 6 weeks postpartum

season clearance-2

Since my plan to return to running is a more conservative and more structured than most I though I’d give weekly training updates. I’ll be sharing resources for great postpartum strengthening workouts and also logging my runs.

This past week was my second week of running, after being cleared to run by my physical therapist. I started with three hill repeats and increased to four hill repeats this past week. Each repeat is a half mile and about 200 feet in elevation gain and I continue to walk down the hill to keep the workout low impact.

I’m also staying consistent with Kegel exercises and pelvic floor specific strengthening.

Some of my workouts have been in the evening after the kids are in bed and a few were in the morning. Thanks to Liam being a great sleeper I’ve been able to start to get back into the morning workout routine.

Here’s how my week shaped up:

Monday: (evening) 40 minutes of Sleek Technique barre DVD. This isn’t necessarily a hard hitting cardio workout, although I do work up a sweat it mostly targets the core and legs. It is different from the barre class that I take in a studio, which integrates more cardio moves that really get the heart pumping. I’m looking forward to getting back to class and probably will in another week or two. I had a very mild, one finger diastasis, but would still have to modify a lot of the moves so I’ll wait a little longer.

IMG_9629

Tuesday: (morning) Stationary bike for 20 minutes followed by 2×20 pull-ups, reverse push-ups, kettle bell swings and single leg bridges and a few physical therapy moves.

IMG_9806

Wednesday: (evening) Running. Hill Repeats 4x 1/2 mile hill. 4:52/4:53/4:53/4:47 Each repeat was a 20+ second improvement from last weeks times. I felt strong.

Thursday: (morning) Found a postpartum pilates workout on YouTube called Poise.  The video was very gentle, but had some good moves. There seemed to be a lot of “dead time” between each move, so I paused on each exercise and performed more reps before moving on. I followed that up with a one mile walk on the treadmill alternating 6% and 12% incline. I was going to do a few upper body exercises but then the kids were up and wanting  breakfast.

Friday: rest

Saturday: (morning)  Running. Hill Repeats 4x 1/2 mile hill. My splits were not nearly as fast as they were on Wednesday, but I’ll chalk that up to running first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. My lungs felt strong, but my legs felt dead. 5:05/4:52/5:06/5:15.

IMG_9875

Sunday: rest

I’m eager to get to work this week and hopefully keep building strength with running.

–Sarah

I love connecting with readers! You can find me here:

Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com

Twitter: @RunFarGirl

Instagram: instagram.com/runfargirl

Facebook: Facebook.com/runfargirl262

Pinterestpinterest.com/runfargirl

Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney

Avocado Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Goat Cheese


Basil is one of the herbs we always plant in our little garden. I love fresh basil in the summer chopped and added to a green salad or a top a tomato in a caprese salad, I simply love the flavor. It is the taste of summer.

Last week I was trying to throw together quick and easy meals and this Avocado Pesto Pasta was perfect in that regard. Ready in 20 minutes, it was fast and incredibly easy to prepare. Using avocado in the pesto lends a nice creamy texture to the mixture and packs a great nutritional punch with healthy fats and essential vitamins. The addition of fresh tomatoes, added just as the sausage is finished cooking, adds a nice dimension to the dish. Topping the warm pasta with goat cheese is a great alternative to parmesan and lends a bit of freshness and adds to the creaminess of the pesto as it melts. It was a huge hit with everyone, even my 5 year old who despises avocado gobbled up the pasta smothered in the creamy pesto.

Avocado Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Goat Cheese

1 avocado

2 large bunches fresh basil

Juice of 1 Lemon

3-4 garlic cloves

2 packages chicken sausage (I used Al Fresco all-natural chicken sausage feta and spinach)

1 lb cavatappi pasta

2 large tomatoes, diced

5-6 Tbs. goat cheese

1. Set pasta water to boil. Cook pasta as directed on packaging.

2. In a food processor or blender  ingredients for pesto: basil, avocado, lemon juice and garlic, until thoroughly combined into a smooth consistency.

3. In a medium high skillet brown sausage, just as sausage is finished cooking lower heat and add in tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes are warmed through.

4. Drain pasta and place in a large dish. Combine pasta, pesto, sausage and tomato in a large serving dish and mix until pasta is coated with pesto. Add goat cheese on top. Garnish with freshly cut basil.

Enjoy!

–Sarah

I love connecting with readers! You can find me here:

Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com

Twitter: @RunFarGirl

Instagram: instagram.com/runfargirl

Facebook: Facebook.com/runfargirl262

Pinterestpinterest.com/runfargirl

Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney