10K training: reflections on my first training cycle postpartum
This week officially starts my new (and second) training cycle since having Baby B and I’m training for the Charleston Half Marathon in January. But before I dig into that training (which, by the way, I’m super excited about since I’ll actually be able to do speedwork again!), I thought I’d take a few paragraphs to reflect on my return to running.
Overall, I think I was smart about getting back into running. I listened to my body. I didn't do too much too soon, or too fast. I let myself be slow. Very slow. Even when my legs wanted to go faster, I knew the rest of me wasn’t ready yet. I only did speedwork (I use that term loosely) twice and hill repeats once during my 10K training because, again, I knew I wasn’t ready for it, neither mentally nor physically. If I needed to skip a workout, I did, and I was okay with that, especially in the beginning.
The last few weeks of training is when I really started to see glimmers of my former running self. My speed started to pick up with nearly every run and I regained confidence in my running in general. There were times in the beginning that I thought I’d never see 7:xx on my Garmin again (let alone 6:xx), or even 8:xx, but I have and I am.
This past Saturday, I raced my best postpartum run yet with a pace in the low to mid 8s (and a dip into the 7s), with a time of just around 26 minutes (recap on the way!). And I know 26 isn’t fast by any stretch - heck, I don’t think my best 5K times of 23:xx are particularly fast! - but 26 minutes is faster than I was just a few weeks ago and for someone recovering from having a baby (it’s no joke, ya’ll!), that’s a lot of improvement in a short time.
This gives me hope that over my next training cycle, I’ll drop below where I was before for 5Ks and run a sub-23 or at the very least a sub-23:30 at my last 5K of the season in December. And then I can keep plugging away at my goal to keep getting faster (and maybe eventually hit that sub-20 minute mark).
Looking back, I’m really glad I chose to train for a 10K this fall instead of diving right into the half. As much as I wanted to train for more miles, restraining myself helped get me back into running without injury or stress. Although I did get sick (and missed several runs), which had nothing to do with training, but that also ended up being another reason why I was glad I was only gearing up for 6.2 miles instead of 13.1.
I only had to run about 10 miles a week to really keep up with training while adjusting to life with a baby. Now I think I've got handle on both as far as routines and fitting in workouts, so I feel like everyone in my house (not just me) is ready for me to take on a longer distance. And I am so excited to actually be able to train as opposed to just logging miles. Bring on the speedwork, tempo runs, and hill repeats because - and maybe I’m crazy - I’ve got my eye on a PR for January.