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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Sunday Runday – Half Marathon Training Day #1

Sunday marked my first training day for the 2016 Pittsburgh half marathon and my official “return to running” day since the birth of my beautiful baby girl in October!  In fact, I quit running last May (after carefully & slowly running the Pittsburgh half) because I felt like I was pushing myself a little too hard and was going past my comfort level on my runs as my belly grew bigger.  I initially really wanted to run throughout my pregnancy, but I switched to weekly spin classes as my body started telling it was time to slow down.  Spinning can be a very intense workout, but for me it was easier to keep my heart rate down in spin class than it was on a long run, and it was still a great way to keep in shape throughout my pregnancy (something I highly recommend doing– I felt like it helped SO much with labor).  So spinning it was, and I put running on the backburner until after baby girl was here.  Before I had H, I planned to return to running as soon as my OB gave me the okay.  An emergency C-section changed those plans, though, so even when my OB cleared me for exercise at 6 weeks I just didn’t feel comfortable jarring my body around at that point.  Now, at almost 14 weeks postpartum, I finally feel like it’s time to start running again.  And I’m so, so looking forward to it.

The weather in our area was absolutely beautiful yesterday (well, relatively speaking– a 50 degree, sunny day in January is much more appealing than a 50 degree, sunny day in, say, August– so I wasn’t complaining).  It’s rare to be able to wear capri pants and a short sleeve shirt on a January run, but yesterday’s temperature was perfect for it.  My younger brother and I are training together for the Pittsburgh half, so he came to my house and we set a goal of running a steady 5K distance for our official “kickoff” training run.  That’s a lower distance than I’ve ever started my training at in the past, but since I haven’t done much of any form of exercise since before H was born, I wasn’t even sure if I could run that far.  My brother has been doing treadmill intervals for months, so he was looking for a relatively-short-distance steady run as well.  We just wanted to test the waters since half training has been out of our vocabulary for so long– we usually run at least one half marathon each fall, and obviously we skipped doing that last year.  We are essentially starting our training from scratch for the first time in a long time.  With the exception of two stops to catch our breath (something we usually do on this particular route– PA hills can be killer), we were able to run the entire distance with no problems!  Our overall pace was a bit slower than usual– we ran an average pace of 10:52, and we usually aim for a 10:00 pace on our training runs– but we were both happy with our first run of the season.  We even did a short sprint at the end of our run, just to get our fast-twitch muscle fibers going.  We both felt great afterwards.  And now I’m more excited than ever to keep moving and keep training.  It feels great to get my “running legs” back again!

Are you training for any races?  How did your weekend runs go?        

It’s Official…

I’m officially registered for my first FULL 26.2 miles!!!! Wahoo!!! I’m so looking forward to the training, the race, and all the pain and glory that goes along with it!

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I’m excited to see me at the start line, too!  Hehe =)

Like the OCD-type runner that I am, I already have my training plan figured out.  I’m going to follow one of Hal Higdon’s plans, which you can find at www.halhigdon.com.  And, of course, I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on my training along the way.

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Anyone else training for their first full marathon??