I think before I share some details about my return to running, let me first share a little bit of my running history. I have basically been running since I was seven, with a break of about 3 years from age 16-19.
I have been Trail running specifically since 2011 have done so at a professional level since 2014.
In Sept 2018 I had my first child, Christopher. I managed to run throughout the entire pregnancy. I completed my first 10k road race in 39:29 less than 3 months post partum and I came 2nd in the SA Trail Champs (40km Hout Bay Trail Challenge) 6 months after his birth. Exactly a year after his birth I came 2nd in the iconic Otter African Trail run and another 3 months later my 1st 100k race in Hong Kong where I placed 4th.
Then Corona happened and we had to set our own personal goals. In May 2020 I ran my fastest 10k (37:05) on my own, without a race environment.
COVID also helped us with the decision to extend our family and Anzel was born on 5 February 2021. I was fortunate enough to run throughout my pregnancy once again.
The trick was to get back into running after baby nr 2. I had an emergency c-section with Christopher, and had a very speedy recovery, getting back to running only 4 weeks after he was born.
I opted to try for a natural birth again with Anzel and luckily my gynae is one of the few who were open to this. Unfortunately, it seems I am not built to give birth naturally and Anzel was also delivered through an emergency c-section.
However, I have my work cut out this time round, as my recovery has been and is much slower… I had quite severe pain for almost 3 weeks post surgery and getting out of bed at night to feed was so painful. After 3 weeks I started walking/hiking about 3-8km at a time.
I had my 6week check-up with the gynae, who was very pleased with the wound and gave me the green light to start training. As with my first pregnancy, I also went to see Tessa Loftus, a physio who specialises in women’s health. She assessed and helped to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles, which is weakened by pregnancy and childbirth. A strong pelvic floor will provide the best possible chance of success in the years following the surgery. She also confirmed that I did not have “Diastasis recti” (a partial or complete separation of the abdomen, something that is very common during and following pregnancy).
She gave me a daily home exercise routine which has helped immensely with my return to running.
So here is what my running has looked liked :
Week 1: 2 x 3km runs, 4km run, 2 x 6km. Total distance 22km
Week 2: 7km, 6km, 5km, 4km, 18km (supposed to be 10km)
Week 3: 5km, 6km, 8km, 10km, 11km (1000m summit included)
It is very important to note that each person’s program will look very different and over the years I have learned that there are a few key things to take into account:
- Your running history
- Average weekly mileage prior and during pregnancy
- Whether your were able to run throughout your pregnancy
One of the biggest mistakes I have made, is to neglect recovery and maintenance since I started running again. I didn’t stretch, foam roll or focus on post run recovery nutrition and I am already paying the price with unwanted niggles and extra fatigue. Fortunately it is still early days and if I want to continue to run and be stronger, I am going to have to make time for this super important part of a runner’s regime.
Onwards and upwards! Like the saying goes, it can only get better from here…
Ps” You are welcome to send me a personal message if you need further guidance or if I can assist with a personalised coaching program.