Life post pregnancy: running update

My baby is now six months old and last week I ran my first parkrun. I could have run one sooner – I’ve been running 5k and longer non-stop for a few months now – but my plan had always been to wait until I was ready, in body and mind, to push hard and see how fast I could run.

Since my last post pregnancy running update, I’ve gradually been increasing my running. Other than a couple of weeks, I’ve been able to fit in three runs a week. How long these are and when exactly they happen has had to be decided on a week-by-week basis as energy levels and schedules change. But I’m very happy with how it’s gone.

Looking at my training log, I’ve been back running (not counting the weeks of run/walk build-up) for 12 weeks, my maximum distance has been an 8 mile run and my biggest week so far has been 17 miles. I’ve also been going to post-natal pilates and doing my own strengthening exercises at home.

As a coach, I often give my runners better advice than I give myself, but I’ve been careful to take my own advice and be patient. I’d signed up for the London 10 Mile race in May as a distance goal. Although I was looking forward to this when I signed up, and despite my runs steadily increasing, when the race bib arrived it caused more anxiety than excitement.

I thought about what I’d tell a runner I was coaching and decided to sit it out this year. It was absolutely the right decision for me.

My focus then shifted to 5k, and a parkrun. I’d been coaching a group of beginners towards their first 5k and their graduation parkrun seemed as good a target as any. We all headed to Highbury Fields parkrun, a five-lap, reasonably flat course. I was pretty excited cycling to the start to see what my legs would do.

After two years off from racing, I didn’t know where to stand as we lined up at the start. After “3,2,1, Go!” there was the usual weaving and jostling. Then it settled down and I focused on the shirts in front of me, wondering if I should overtake and watching people pull away. Seeing my runners give it their all on the way round helped me push on.

I had turned my watch screen to show the time of day rather than pace or elapsed time, so I would have to run on feel. I finished in 23:21 according to my watch, 23:17 according to the parkrun timekeepers. And a ‘season best’ either way. Well within the PB+ 10% goal I set myself a couple of months ago. (My PB is 21:21, run off the back of marathon training, so the goal this time had been sub-24.)

As I finished, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked what pace I was running. “You were really fast, I was trying to stick with you.” I DIDN’T say I’m coming back from having a baby. I DIDN’T say I used to be faster. Because I was just a target for her to focus on and push herself.

There’s always people ahead of you and always people behind you, whether they’re in the race with you or not. And our time and ‘excuses’ only matter to ourselves. (Yes I know parkrun isn’t a ‘race’.)

The next goal is a 10k and I’d like to go sub-50, but if I’m really honest, something closer to sub-48. (My PB is 45:10.) As my son is now six months, I’m looking forward to making buggy runs a regular part of my training to help increase my mileage and make training more fun.

I share more regularly about my training over on Instagram, so you can fine me there if you’re interested in what I’m doing and where I’m racing.