My Pittsburgh Half Training: In a Nutshell

We are officially 9 days out from the half marathon in Pittsburgh, and I admit– my training hasn’t been exactly where it needs to be (which is why I haven’t been posting too often lately).  Before I had Sweet Little Miss H in October, I had a perhaps unrealistic view of my “epic” postpartum return to running.  I took 9 weeks off for maternity leave, and I had intended to make getting back in shape my #2 priority during that time (second only to my #1 priority– taking care of Miss H, of course).  I quit running last May but continued to stay in shape throughout my pregnancy by attending spin classes regularly, so I figured it wouldn’t be difficult at all to return to running at my previous or an even better level of fitness.  I signed up for the Pittsburgh half on the first day that registration opened– I’ve raced in Pittsburgh every year since 2011 (including last year, when I was pregnant), so that was a no-brainer.  I then proceeded to sign up for two more half marathons. One at the end of May, and one at the beginning of June.  That makes three half marathons within one month, 6-7 months postpartum.

Then, first-time-motherhood happened and completely changed those plans.  Due to reasons beyond my control, I had to have an emergency c-section, and recovery from that was brutal.  Then, the first few months of Miss H’s life were a blur of sleepless nights and exhausting nap-less days.  She had her days and nights mixed up to the extreme– she would wake up at 11 pm and stay awake (no naps) until sometimes 8 or 9 in the morning for the first seven weeks of her life.  It was very a very atypical sleep pattern for a baby her age.  She ate every hour during the day.  I was lucky to get 4 or 5 hours of sleep total each day, and getting a workout in had to take a back seat to my first priority: sleeping whenever I could.  Fast forward to January: she was finally sleeping a little better at night, but I was back to work, so I would fit in workouts whenever I could (usually only on the weekends).  Then came February.  I got sick twice that month, both times over a weekend. I ran a few times, but I knew that my “big” training plans had gone out the window at that point.  When March came, I knew I had to get back in shape, and I knew I only had two months to do it.

I’m not making excuses for my lack of training; I’m just saying that getting back to running after having a baby was much harder for me than I expected it to be!  I know it’s not that way for everyone– so new moms please don’t be discouraged by my post– I just had the perfect storm of circumstances that caused me to get a late start on my return to fitness.  Nothing beats the joy and happiness that a new baby brings, so I’m not complaining– I wouldn’t trade those first few trying months with my sweet baby girl for a long run any day.  I’m just giving a bit of a background as to why I’m going into this half more unprepared than I’ve ever been.  And I’m totally okay with it.

So far, I’ve run 12 times this year in preparation for the half for a total of about 45 miles.  No bueno.  Those miles included one 5K race and one 10K race, so I’ve already had a bit of experience with the “race atmosphere.” I’ll probably run two more times before next weekend– one long hilly run this weekend, then a short run of intervals/speedwork next week– making 14 runs and approximately 56 miles total.

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My view from last night’s speedwork/hill training run.  PA mountains make for some of the best training routes. =)

I honestly don’t know how many times I usually run in preparation for a half, but I do know that I’ve trained significantly less for this one. Given the circumstances, though, I’m content with my training and feel like I’m in the best shape I could possibly be in at this point.  I’m confident that I’ll at least finish the half, and right now that’s really my only goal– to finish and to have fun doing it.  I’ll take it easy, and when my legs get tired, I’ll run with my heart– same as I do every race.  And I’m sure blasting my workout playlist will help the miles go by a little more quickly, too.

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Source: Google Images

I certainly don’t condone this type of lackadaisical training and am not encouraging it at all– so please don’t mistake my post for that.  It’s more of a caution/warning than a recommendation– if you’re training for a half, do NOT train how I did, haha.

Will I run the other two half marathons that I’m currently signed up for?  Maybe; maybe not.  We’ll see how Pittsburgh goes and whether or not I’m able to get a long run in on the weekends that follow.  I’m throwing around the idea of giving up distance running for the rest of the year and just focusing on speedwork to improve my 5K times.  That would give me more time to spend with Miss H; something I’ve been craving a lot lately especially since I’m back to work full-time.  I haven’t decided yet, though.

On a side-note– I just started an Instagram page!  So now you can check me out there and on Facebook, too, if you’re interested in following my postpartum-return-to-running journey on a more regular basis.  I’ll be trying to update those pages more often than the blog.

What races are you training for?  How is your training going??  

Any tips for a new mom on how to fit running and training into her already-busy schedule?  I need all the pointers I can get.  

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Fitness Friday and My Weekly Recap!

Hey all!  It’s been a while since I’ve done a Fitness Friday post.  Since it’s the start of a new season and the start of a new month, I thought it might be a good idea to seek out a little bit of fitness motivation and share it with you.  So here goes… You really can’t go wrong with inspiration from Nike!

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Seriously, when it comes to fitness {and all other things in life}, there’s no time like the present to get started on something you’ve been thinking about doing or been putting off doing.  Especially in the fall– with the inevitably colder temps and the busy holiday season approaching, it’s so easy to say “there’s no sense in starting now, I might as well wait for spring to get here.”  Um, no.  Get off your butt and get started NOW!  When the spring comes and you’re fitter, healthier, and happier than before, you’ll be glad that you did.  On a related note…

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Don’t prolong your goals.  Get started now, because in a month, a year, a decade– you will be glad that you did.  The passing of time won’t make you any more motivated than you are today.  The time will pass, and you’ll still be saying “I’ll start some day.”  So make that “some day” today!

With two 5K races and two half mary’s coming up in the next month, I’ve been running a good bit lately (much to my liking!).  Last Sunday, a group of us did a very scenic 8.5-mile loop full of uphills, downhills, and flats.  I normally do my long runs on my favorite running trail, which is a flat, soft-surface, rails-to-trails.  I knew I wanted to get in a tougher training run before my October 6th half marathon, and last Sunday’s run definitely fit the bill.  It felt great to check out a new route, get my heart rate up, and test my legs’ limits up over the hills.  I really wish I’d have had my phone on me to take pictures, but I didn’t– some of the sights we saw were absolutely beautiful.  We are planning on repeating the loop this coming Sunday, so hopefully I can snag some pics to share then.

On Wednesday, my bestest running friend Emily and I ran a nice-and-easy 10 miles on our favorite running trail.  Once upon a time, if you’d have told me I was ever going to say that a 10-mile run was nice and easy, I’d have laughed at you.  But seriously, we took it nice and slow and I felt great afterwards.  I love distance running, and I especially love feeling like I’m improving at it.

Last night, my brother and I went on an easy 3.1 mile run with a family friend who is training for his first 5K.  I treated it as a recovery run in preparation for tomorrow’s 5K race, but in reality our route had some nasty hills on it!  I was feeling the burn in my legs and the burn in my lungs from the chilly fall temperatures.

I did a little bit of strength training this week, but nothing to write home about.  I’m using strength training more for injury prevention now, but I’m hoping to kick my strength training up a notch once all this half marathon training slows down in November!

I hope everyone has a fun, fit FALL weekend!!!

=)

8 Miles and Some New Running Gear

Last night, I met my bestest running friend Emily for an easy 8 on our favorite local running trail.  I love, love, love running in the fall, and yesterday’s run was no exception.  The air was crisp, the sun was shining, and the trail was dusted with the first round of fallen leaves for the year.  Absolutely perfect.

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My favorite running trail.

The late-day sunshine was streaming perfectly down through the trees, and we stopped running on more than one occasion to snag a few pictures.  The area where I live is beautiful, especially this time of year.

After running four fast-paced miles with my boyfriend the night before, yesterday’s eight miles felt nice and easy.  My legs felt strong and the cool air meant I didn’t feel overheated or dehydrated (thank goodness, since I totally forgot my water bottle at home for the gazillionth time in a row!).  We took a walking break here-and-there, and I felt super refreshed afterwards.

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Although our splits ranged from 8:05/mile to 11:29/mile, we averaged out at 9:52/mile over the course of 8.27 miles.  Not bad.

Only a few more training runs before our half marathon on October 6th!  Wahoo!!

When I got home, I found not one but TWO much-anticipated packages waiting for me!!!

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The first was a fresh supply of Honey Stinger Chews– Pink Lemonade flavor!!  I am usually a Clif Shot Bloks kind of girl, but I gave the Honey Stingers a try a few weeks ago and really liked them.  I decided to buy a box of those to throw into my running fuel rotation.

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The second was my most recent purchase from Kindrunner.com— The Stick!!!  After a knee injury sidelined me last fall and prevented me from running in my first full (MCM) marathon, I’m determined to run and train as injury-free as possible from here on out!  In anticipation of my upcoming first full marathon in May of 2014 (too early to start making running gear purchases? I think not.), I bought The Stick to massage my sure-to-be tender leg muscles after I start ramping up my mileage.  If you aren’t familiar with the benefits of self-myofascial release for runners, Active.com has a great informational article here.

Bella was totally intrigued by my self-myofascial techniques, haha

Bella was totally intrigued by my self-myofascial techniques, haha

After my 8-mile run last night, I threw on my compression socks for a few hours and used The Stick on my quads.  I’m happy to report zero soreness in my legs today!!  I really think the combination of compression and self-myofascial release is going to help me get through marathon training injury free (fingers crossed, at least)!!

Do you foam roll or use another form of self-myofascial release?

What are your favorite energy gels, chews, etc. to use on your long runs??