With the arrival of February I have been reminded that this update blog post is very long over due. I’ve been meaning to write for a while now but I’m sorry to say that blogging has been the first thing to go when it comes to priorities around here. Sandy’s arrival has changed everything, in the best way possible! We’re having so much fun watching him grow and develop day by day that often there isn’t much time for anything else!
But, as I sit and type this Sandy is quite happily playing on his rubber floor mats – occasionally with copies of random magazines or books that I’ve forgotten to put away, which I have to go and retrieve/ save – and so I’m going to try to write-up a summary of mother-running-related activities in the last 8 months as quickly and as succinctly as I can!
May 20th, 2017 – Sandy’s birth day. I officially went into labor on the evening of May 19th – and spent most the time at home, thankfully with Jesse, putting into practice everything we had learnt in the Bradley Birthing classes (taken at Castle Hospital, Kailua). Once the contractions started to grow stronger and closer we drove to the birthing center at the hospital – I was lying sideways on the back seat of our car! In hindsight, as a runner, the best way to describe contractions are like 400m repeats that progressively become harder and harder – maybe akin to the mammoth 400m session that Quenton Cassidy completes in ‘Once a Runner’ (although I definitely ‘ran’ more repeats and my medal was a baby!!).
The birth itself was relatively straight forward (giving birth is anything but straight). Thanks to the guidance, breathing and yoga-like techniques of the Bradley classes we delivered Sandy without any interventions at 11:41am: 6 lbs 12 oz, 21 inches. I do have to add here that I now believe in acupressure points, a husband/ birth partner holding your hand, and the strength of the mind more than ever! However – for reasons unknown (potential causes too lengthy to discuss in detail here) the placenta was not cooperating with its job of exiting my body! The short version of events: I needed every intervention to get the placenta out and it took a record amount of time to remove it! Side note – if there is a next time I would definitely be interested in hypnobirthing…
We returned home as a family of 3 two days later and spent the next few weeks with the help of family and friends recovering and getting to know each other. The help of my parents from the UK and Jesse’s Mom and sister were invaluable and we are eternally grateful for their assistance with Sandy’s first months.
Returning to Running: Not as Easy as it Sounds
It’s not that I thought running after having a baby would be easy – but I was not prepared for the drive I felt to go running again. Learning to slow down was the biggest lesson. Initially I walked and started doing a few light core/ pelvic strengthening, re-stabilisation exercises. I soon realised however that my weakened pelvic floor needed some specialist physical therapy, which made all the difference – and at my first consultation (8 weeks postpartum) what was the first thing the PT advised? Rest. And so I didn’t start running again until about 10 weeks post birth and at that time I also started practicing yoga on a regular basis – all very slowly. When I did start running they were short, very easy runs – sometimes with the BOB running stroller (an awesome gift from the Windward Training Freaks), and sometimes just on my own. I also swam a few times and tried to include lots of fruit, veggies and probiotic foods (kombucha etc.) in my diet. Then at about 12 weeks I returned to high school cross-country coaching as an assistant, taking Sandy with me in the BOB stroller – and it was perfect – we built up our fitness along with the team. Since I was also breastfeeding ensuring that I had enough fluids and snacks at hand was a huge part of being able to cope with the coaching and running.
After the end of the cross-country season in October I continued to run conservatively but keep up with core conditioning as much as possible. I’d set myself one goal – to run in the Xterra trail champs at Kualoa Ranch/ Ka’a’awa Valley in December but wasn’t sure whether to run the 10km or half-marathon. A good intermediate test of overall fitness was the Val Nolasco Half marathon in November, which I decided to run on a whim – pushing Sandy in the stroller. The morning of the race was cool, and rainy at times – but we finished in 1:40, which confirmed that even on 20-25 miles per week I was regaining some pre-baby legs. I felt stronger than expected but ultimately decided to run the 10km at the Xterra event taking the long-term approach – and to be honest I was terrified of developing an pelvic/ SI joint injury by getting caught out on the tough & technical sections of the half-marathon courses. The 10k ended up being the best option – it was challenging without being exhausting, my body held up and it was so much fun to be back out there on the trails again in the stunning Ka’a’awa Valley. Highlights of the day included supporting and cheering all the half-marathon runners and seeing my sister plus so many of the local running community putting in gutsy performances. Roll on 2018!
So what’s next running wise? It took a while to work out but I’m excited to be part of the Chase Team in the Hapalua, Hawaii’s half marathon in April – the next goal has landed. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and commitment to be anywhere near the pace I managed in 2015 (where is Katie O’Neil when you need her?), but it’s going to be fun to see how it all goes. A further goal is to share and give a few clues as to ‘how’ mothers run post-baby. I’m no expert but I am fascinated by the ability of the human body and when ever I see mothers out running I wonder ‘how do they do it?’. So let’s try to find out…
Yoga! If you’re interested in starting a yoga practice why not join a 14 day challenge starting today, February 1st? Along with Lindsay Bliss I’m co-hosting a yoga-for-runners series on Instagram – read more here: https://www.instagram.com/longrunergy/
Coaching: Currently longrunergy coaching is full to capacity. We’ve had some great results in the last few months – PR’s, personal firsts and on the flip side, some personal disappointments too due to unthinkable situations. But running is a tricky sport and the best thing we can do is keep working consistently and paying attention to all the little things that make a big performance.
And how is Sandy doing with all of this? Well – he’s now napping and probably growing in his sleep (we did some playing, a nappy/diaper change and a feed all whilst this blog post was in the making). With 7 tiny teeth and a big smile he is a wonder and a pleasure to hang out with every day. I’m so lucky to be his Mum.
Thanks for reading! I’ll try to post more updates on this blog over the next few months – and share updates on other projects too such as 27.2 (put Earth Day, April 22nd in your diary for a virtual run) and if I ever find time, the Retracing Routledge book!
Resources for Postpartum Runners
Here are a few websites that I have found to invaluable since Sandy’s arrival:
- FemFusion Fitness YouTube Channel: http://femfusionfitness.com/youtube/
- Mariane Uehara’s Blog: http://www.marianeuehara.com/new-mommy-basic-core-exercises/
- Recore Fitness: https://www.recorefitness.com/
- Another Mother Runner Podcast: https://anothermotherrunner.com/another-mother-runner-podcast/