Slow and Easy

The best laid schemes of mice and men

Often go awry,

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,

for promised joy.

To a Mouse, Robert Burns*

*I put this quote at the bottom of my post-baby comeback plan post back in August…go figure.

I had grand plans for training post-baby. According to my original plan, at this time I was going to start building my weekly mileage (from what I thought was going to be around 20 miles/week) in preparation for a spring marathon. I had planned on spending the entire month of November running, instead I spent it walking and riding a recumbent bike. It seems that my body had other ideas about how my post-partum recovery was going to go. And so I’ve had to adjust.

I’m at the point now where I am “allowed” to run, but that permission comes with a huge caveat: that I take it slow and easy. With that in mind I’ve created one of the most conservative training plans I’ve ever compiled. I have a tendency to go at things with intensity, right from the get go. I have a hard time holding back–even when I know it is the right thing to do. Which is why I’ve enlisted the help of my husband, who knows his stuff (he’s a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist) to help me create a plan along with some guidelines to help me hold back.

Here are the “rules” I’ll be following:

10% Rule for increasing weekly mileage. I’ve decided to not increase my weekly mileage by more than 10%. I’m starting with five miles in the first week, so I’m working from the ground up. My fitness level is probably a little higher than that considering that I’ve been doing cardio 4-5 times a week but I want to be safe as I increase my mileage.

Slow: I’ve decided that if I run on the treadmill my runs are going to be at 6mph or a 10min/mile pace until I get to three months post-partum (December 29th). If I run outside I’ll go by perceived exertion and try to maintain and “easy” pace. (I don’t own a Garmin to tell me what my pace is.)

Check-In: I plan to log, in detail how I feel during, immediately after and the day after each run. I want to be as honest as I can so that I back off when my body tells me too. Mostly I’ll be trying to key in on any kind of “weak sensation” in the pelvic floor: a “sagging” feeling, a twinge, pinching ect.

Space Out Runs: For the first four weeks of the plan I’m only running three days a week. I’ve planned a non-running day between each run, sometimes two days. It isn’t until after I reach the three months post-partum mark that I’ve scheduled two running days back to back. I want to give my body plenty of time to recover from the stress of each run and I also need a day to assess how the run has impacted my body and how I’m really feeling.

Length: For the most part I’ve scheduled short runs starting with walk/run intervals and increasing to four miles. The first two “runs” were short, as they were a 1/4 mile walk/ run interval that totaled only one mile of running. I have a couple four mile runs that will test to see how my body holds up over “higher” mileage. If my body doesn’t do well after the first four miler on Dec. 16th then I will have to pull back and resume shorter distances.

I haven’t listed it on this calendar, but I will continue to cross train on the recumbent bike and with weights. I also plan to continue the pelvic floor exercises from my Hab It DVD–I’ve found that the exercises in this video have been strengthening small muscles in my core and glutes that I never knew were there!

As much as I want to throw myself headlong into training for a spring marathon I know that it is not the wisest thing for me to do. My body needs more recovery time and a more gradual approach to returning to running.

Have you ever had to hold back in your training? How did you keep yourself on track?



  1. says

    Looks like a great plan for you Sarah. I know it will be frustrating at times, but it sounds like you know what is best for you & your body. Too often we push ourselves and then just end up regretting it later when we have to nurse an injury. Happy running! Amy

    • says

      I know! I think it’s the runner mindset to always push, push, push. Holding back will help me in the long run, I just have to stay focused on that:)

  2. says

    I agree with Amy. It looks like a good realistic plan. Learning how to hold back is such an important skill for a marathon runner. Too often we focus on getting faster, fitter, and able to run farther. But, we forget that the first 20 miles of a marathon need to be run with a patient mind. You are doing exactly what you need to be successful next fall, and I’m sure it will pay off BIG time :)

  3. says

    I had tonnes of pelvic floor problems following the births of my two boys and I had to severely restrict was I was able to do running-wise. It is soooo worth doing though because if you push too much too soon you risk making things even worse and no new mom wants to worry about that kind of stuff. Trust me. Stick to it and you’ll do great. 6mph is a good speed! When I started I was down in the 4’s because I was so weak down there and just testing the waters!

  4. says

    Looks like an awesome plan. How hard is it going to be to not let yourself go faster on the slow runs, though? What great mental training that will be and I bet you will get into awesome shape doing that. Do you not have any symptoms at all now, pelvic floor-wise? I can’t wait to say the same!

    • says

      I’ve been religious with the hab it DVDs. The symptoms have subsided in the past month. They were worse at the beginning of November, right after I did all that running in October. I think my body recovered well after birth but the I did some damage when I started running: trying to run sub 8 min miles, 4 miles at a time. That was not smart.

  5. Kim @ Healthy Nest says

    This experience all sounds so familiar!! :) I knew I was supposed to take it easy post-birth but couldn’t help thinking “those recommendations are for the average woman…I’m a RUNNER!”


  1. […] My road back to running postpartum has been a rocky one, filled with starts and stops. I started back too soon (three weeks postpartum) but put the brakes on when I realized I could have a prolapsed bladder. Thankfully there was no prolapse, but I did enough research to realize that if I continued running I could very easily cause damage that would affect my running for years to come. So I stopped, made an appointment with a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor rehabilitation and took an approach I rarely take: slow. […]

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