Important Note: I was cleared by both my Doctor and my Women’s Health Physical Therapist BEFORE returning to any type of running postpartum. I strongly recommend that anyone returning to running postpartum meet with a Women’s Health Physical Therapist prior to resuming any kind of running.
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
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:
KB swing 20
Squat jumps 10
High knees 40
KB high pull 20
Butt kicks 40
Cone jumps 40
Four square hops 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.