Getting into running shape – whether you’re a first time runner or are getting back at it after a hiatus – well, to be frank… it kinda sucks! Its hard. You’re out of breath and can’t carry a conversation. Your lungs burn. Your legs feel heavy. You look at your Garmin and have only gone .34 miles. How on earth will you ever get to that happy place of easily running (and talking through) a four mile run?
Set small goals that you can achieve! Breaking it down into mini milestones will make the journey more enjoyable and seem more achievable.
Here are a few of mine…
1. SLOWLY progress to running four+ miles. Four miles has always been a personal milestone for me. Four miles (or 35-40ish minutes) is a good workout length and four miles is a good base to start training for longer races. When my three year old son was born, my doctor made me wait until my six week checkup to run. This time around with our daughter, I suppose I’m an old veteran because my doc gave me the green light right after delivery. She said “Do what your body allows. If you can run, run!” She did advise me to hold off core work for 6-8 weeks, and I decided to wait 3 full weeks before I started running [stitches, milk supply and other TMI facts!]
Here is the [slow] progress I’ve made so far…
- 2 weeks postpartum – Walked 1.5 miles
- 3 weeks postpartum – Ran/walked 2.5 miles (ran first mile, then ran/walked last 1.5)
- 4 weeks postpartum – Ran 2 miles
- 5 weeks postpartum – Ran 3 miles
At six weeks, I plan to up my runs to two times per week. I started slow to make sure my body could handle it. I also DO NOT WORRY ABOUT PACE. I don’t even wear my Garmin. I want to gradually build mileage before I worry about pace and I don’t want to be discouraged by feeling slow. After a few weeks of conquering and feeling good about three miles, I’ll add that 4th mile on and then eventually a 5th and even 6th. Quality over quantity, in my opinion. And at some point, hopefully in a month or so, I’ll start wearing my Garmin again. For now its FitBit only. Tracking steps and mileage and NOT allowing myself to go crazy about pace [or lack thereof!]
My FitBit flex syncs with my phone, my Weight Watchers app (gotta lose those baby-weight pounds) and allows me to focus on steps and mileage right now… not concerned with pace just yet! And I love the Tori Burch accessory hubby got me, dresses up my FitBit Flex when I want more style.
Oh and group runs make it more fun!
**Sidenote… leave the baby at home in the beginning while you’re running! It will be good bonding time for your spouse or other caretaker(s), good for you to have some ‘momma’ time AND will make it easier on your run while you’re getting back into shape. And for safety purposes, most stroller companies recommend not jogging with a baby until they have decent head control. You can invest in a good jogging stroller and bring baby along in a few months. I usually nurse my little, head out the door for a run, then am back before she needs to eat again. For now, if you want to spend time getting FIT with baby, WALK with the stroller, or better yet, carry baby and keep them close!
2. Run a timed mile, 1-2 times per week. I plan to gradually work toward a 9:00 minute mile then ultimately back under 8:00 (my goal pace for a PR 5k). I did my first timed mile last week and barely kept it under 10 minutes – 9:51, see below. Between carrying an extra 20 pounds of weight I need to lose, and not having run much since last October, I knew it would be a challenge. Progress not perfection, they say! In my defense, the last leg of it was up hill and against wind, not the ideal elements for a strong finish. I plan to do one mile per week on this same route, and one per week at the track or a flatter terrain. Doing 1-2 timed runs per week will allow me to incorporate what will feel like a little bit of speed work and push my lungs & legs to get faster over time. Keeping it low in mileage (one mile) will help prevent any injury or strain on my body by potentially doing too much too fast.
3. Sign up for a race. This always gives me the focus I need for training. Several runners in our Living Fit run crew have signed up for the M3S Sports FORE! Miler on Thursday, May 28. This gives me two months to work up to running four miles at a pace I can be proud of.
Well, guess I’d better stop talking and start walking. Heading out for a quick run now. Good luck in your journey and hope to see you out on the trail!