Starting From Scratch
I’ve made it through my first month of running without breaking or tearing any part of my anatomy and without tripping or falling over. I haven’t been chased by a dog, stung by a bee or even rained on! This is a big achievement in the life of a runner who is starting from scratch!
70km for the week is my new season best. 70km used to be shorter than a rest week when I was in full swing, but now it’s a nice number for my total mileage as it means I’ve managed to average 10km per day. I’ve even managed to graduate from shuffling to actual running pace, back into the low 4 min/per km region!
Day light savings ended disappointingly a few weeks ago. The evening walks as a family have ended too momentarily. I literally see training in a whole new light when running during the day. All my running used to be in the evening after work, or very early hours of the morning before work. Now I get to run for half of the week in the light and the rest in the dark. You see your neighborhood so differently during the day! Some sights are lovely; others you sometimes wish it had been dark!
One thing this period has highlighted more than ever before is that getting back into fitness is hard! My longest stint of injury downtime prior to Pete was 3 months. With almost a year off this time, my legs definitely feel it. I can appreciate just how hard it is for people to take up running when they’ve never been a runner before. It seems like such a hard thing to do. You head out for a run and wake up the next day with aching quads and tight calves. It takes all your mental and physical strength to get yourself out there again, but if you persevere beyond 3 weeks you’ll be hooked!
I know what it is like to feel fitter than ever before. I know what it feels like to zoom around during work outs, to float over the top of hills and relax down the other side. I know what it is like to achieve your personal best during a hard work out or race. That is why, despite it being so hard early on, I persevere. It is always worth it.
For those wishing to come back from an injury, pregnancy or start from scratch, be kind on yourself. Know that even for those of us who are fortunate to have inherited genes that provide us with the ability to run a little faster; we feel the same way when starting from scratch. We too get screaming quads, sore calves and have the desire on many days to go for a walk instead! In Winter (right now actually), I look out the window and see the trees blowing and the damp path. The windows are moist from the cool air outside and I think to myself, Ugg boots and a warm cup of tea sounds a lot nicer than going out there! …but I go anyway! …once I am out there I am achieving something.
I am experiencing a change physiologically now that I’ve managed to keep moving for a month. One run I feel fantastic, jogging along at a nice comfortable pace, skimming across the rolling undulations. The next day I can hardly engage my quad muscles to lift my weary legs…left…right…left…am I finished yet? Oh no, I’ve only ran 2km! But the easier runs are a sign that I am well on my way to returning to full swing. The key is patience…something I didn’t have much of when I false started in February!
A few snippets…
The Work-Life Juggle
Try not to be as crazy as I am when you start an exercise program. I decided to get back into running and start part time work at the same time. It has taken me a month to get used to the change in pace again. Be aware that when you are tired, you need to listen to your body and help it adapt safely. Pete has a night a week where he turns into an owl and wakes up 3 times. Every other night he is a dream baby. If you’re up a lot at night, you just have to adapt the next day.
Like most, when I get tired late afternoon I crave sugary food – try to drink extra water and have nutritious snacks on hand to avoid undoing all your hard work. I never go too crazy and cut out the fun stuff completely. I just like to eat balanced and get all the good things in first. I need to be treated on a weekly basis to keep up my fast paced lifestyle going – just not habitually on a daily basis.
Your support network
Being a mummy is the best thing I have done in my life so far. Little Pete’s gorgeous smile makes me melt every time, even at 2 and 5am! How could you not want to get up for a cuddle from such a cute, happy bubba!
Without my Dad fixing everything, my mum being available around the clock, my sister and I spending time with each other’s boys and Lachlan’s parents when we visit their country home, I would not be in a position to run, work and be a mummy. I love the fact that I can keep my career on track, continue my training and be a mummy – but you need a good support network to even try!
As a mummy you are on 24 hours per day. Some days feel like you haven’t stopped for a second as one day rolls into the other with evening feeds and nappy changes. Being able to go for a run gives you a short stint of time on your own, which is both daunting (being away from your baby) and therapeutic. I don’t recommend trying to do it all on your own.
Enjoy Your Own Thoughts
If you are someone like me who is used to training with a partner (my wonderful husband) then it can be quite a transition running on your own. As Lac is so much fitter than I am right now, we cannot do all our running together. I try too hard to keep up and end up sore and sorry for myself – but soon we will get together a lot more!
I’ve now had to get used to enjoying my own thoughts. I’m training myself not to overthink things, not to focus on how untrained I actually am right now and to focus on achieving small goals along the way. It is a new approach which has kept me running and as a result I am shaving minutes off my runs every week!
I use the time to think about mummy things on my run, like cooking ideas, games I can play with Pete and special projects I can finish on the weekends! Occasionally I get a few work ideas too! It is certainly a different experience running solo, but it is not forever and is a good opportunity to get to know you again.
I am not enjoying those bitterly cold days which have sprung up on us. I’m not looking forward to the washing taking up half the house and I’m not looking forward to seeing more darkness than usual. But I know that by the time Winter is over I’ll be on the other side of strength and fitness and back into a running/workout/recovery cycle – I may have even put on my racing flats a few times. Starting from scratch is hard work, but it is rewarding too – be kind to yourself – getting out there is half the battle!