Hello old friend, running

Of course, I did not run a fall race as I knew I probably wouldn't when I last posted. I didn't even run once in the entire month of October. Oh, well. I did go to Myanmar (Burma), though. My main accomplishment in the month of October was pumping on this 8 day trip away from my baby*and transporting all of the milk home, through 3 countries, packed in ice in four 68oz thermoses.* It was terrible! (And heavy!) Avoid if possible. But I am so glad I did it, because, ya know. You gotta do what you gotta do.

A good thing about the last two terrible weeks is that I went for my first run since September and something incredible happened. I had no pain, no twinges, no "ugh so postpartum" sense I was hauling my body around. It was nothing like the lumbering I was doing a few months ago. I felt spry? Light on my feet? Strong, even??

I can't talk, or do anything without thinking about the election. It has seeped into every part of my life. So I will say: I was getting in touch with my election feelings on this run. I tapped into a fury that burned hotter and hotter the farther I went.

I think I'm going to need running in the coming months, and years (gulp). I am not going to rededicate myself to PRs or anything like that, at least not now. Now more than ever, I think we all need to take a hard look at how we spend our free time and see what more we could be doing in order to build the resistance (by volunteering, protesting, going to community meetings, taking on organizing roles, writing, and so forth). But I recognize I need, and want, to get back in a small habit again, to tap into this strength I seem to only be able to access when I'm running.

Postpartum running

I started running at 5 weeks postpartum, and felt fine (I thought). But running never clicked. I didn't feel good and I can't really describe why. I think my hormones took longer than normal to straighten out? Also, and I guess this is important: My baby has never slept through the night. I haven't gotten a regular night's sleep for more than six months. Now I see that I tried to get back into running before I was really ready. My advice to myself, six months ago? Just wait. Forget it. Go walking instead.

Starting from scratch

It might be premature to start posting weekly recaps here, but I do want to record what it's like to start running again from essentially nothing. So far, I:

  • Found & charged my Garmin
  • Found my iPod and that little USB charger thing, and charged it
  • Made a rough "plan" to get me to a TBD spring 2017 half marathon (ish). I would also be happy running some trail races in the spring instead.

Week one

What can be said about three short little runs? Tuesday was my longest postpartum run, until Saturday came around and I ran 5 miles! I am slow. My easy pace is in the 10-minute mile range. But it feels good to have a fresh beginning, and I know things can only go up from here.

4 months A.B.

That's After Baby, of course. I'd love to write a long post about everything that's new, but if I wait for the time to do all of that I'll probably never post here again. And besides, this is a running blog and I like to try to stay on topic as much as possible. So for now I will type what I can on my phone..

I had my baby on May 8. Childbirth, wow. Nothing has humbled me more than pregnancy, birth, and recovery. I still cannot believe how physical it all was (is!), and what my body has been, and is still going through. No amount of running could have prepared me for it. I am so glad my son is here and healthy, and also so ready to start getting back into running shape after sharing my body with someone else for 9 months.

I'm trying to be patient with myself w/r/t running, but I have been itching to do the hard workouts I have missed so much. I went out for my first "run" (run/walk) at five weeks postpartum (early/mid June) at around an 11 or 12 minute/mile pace. Although it was truly freaky-feeling, it was amazing to move and sweat again. Then I completed a loose Couch to 5k plan, working up to three miles but no more. My pace is slow, no faster than about 10 minutes/mile. Since then, not much has changed. When I run, I do about three sloooow miles. They haven't gotten easier; I haven't gotten faster.

Summer in North Carolina is the worst time to run if you're not already in great shape (and let's be honest, even if you are) but I am chugging along a few times a week because I know it'll get easier and far more fun by autumn. I also completed a four-week "beginner" (though very challenging for me at this stage) bodyweight strength training plan on the Nike Training Club app. Pregnancy did a number on my posture and back, but both seem improved after (gentle) strength-training.

Unfortunately, since going back to work I stopped doing NTC strength training and only manage to run about twice a week. I consider myself an organized person, but man, trying to balance my career with my baby and relationship and basic self-care (including exercise) is tough. (I know literally every parent says this , but it didn't sink in until it happened to me.) As someone who loved long stretches of unstructured, quiet time to do nothing but chill, the adjustment to living by someone else's clock has made me feel a bit claustrophobic. And the time crunch got a bit tighter two weeks ago after the baby started daycare. And breastfeeding/pumping adds next-level logistics: I've (half) joked that my #1 interest these days is milk. Nursing, pumping, storing it, transporting it, supply anxieties, milliliters, ounces, flanges, scales, oxytocin, fenugreek, tongue ties, suck patterns, the whole thing. In a parallel universe I have a blog about milk, in which I go into excruciating detail about our breastfeeding troubles, remedies, and solutions. It is all-consuming; I had no idea about any of this before I had a baby -- even during pregnancy, I managed to stay blissfully optimistic that it would be "easy" because it's "so natural." If you are pregnant now and reading this, I will direct you to this incredible documentary which is a great intro to the personal and political issues around milk. But, that is not this universe! This blog is about the non-milk hobby I used to enjoy, running.

So let's talk about that: I'm not sure how to fit in training anymore. Seriously...when? Right now, it seems possible to do a maximum of one thing in addition to baby + work, nothing more. Is my one thing going to be running? I'm not sure. Most nights, I have and would gladly choose a walk around the neighborhood with my family or a movie on the couch after the baby is down for the night + a 9pm bedtime over dragging myself out for a run. Is it a question of being more committed, more organized? I'm never going to be someone who wakes up before the baby's up to crank out 8 miles before the sun rises. Will it "get easier" as people have promised, once my baby is older?

Few things are more boring than a half-committed person idly stating goals she may or may not actually work for, but here I go anyway. Goals: I would really love to run a fall race, even if it is a short one. I am not expecting to set any new PRs (PRs -- ha, ha, hahahaha), but running is a part of who I am and I don't want to give that up. Absolutely, I want to run a spring race. A half marathon, maybe.

I'll probably do ADIML and try to blog about how I'm running and working at the same time, if I ever start, uh, actually running on workdays. And while I'm at it, I might actually register for a race, train, and blog about it. In the meantime, I need some inspiration. All the running bloggers who have had babies seem to quit their jobs to sell Beachbody. Is that because work+baby+running is not possible, or because the ones who do it are just too busy to blog about it? If you read any good ones who still have 9-5 jobs and manage a semi-serious running hobby, please share!