This past weekend was my first post-baby race. As I already stated, it wasn’t an all-out race for me – but truth be told, I did push myself. My lungs were burning and legs were hurting at various points during the 6.2 miles.
My pace for those short miles was slower than the pace I’ve run marathons in.
I’m certainly not complaining about where I am at physically right now. At 5 weeks postpartum I know that I am blessed to have had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy (with the exception of gestational diabetes and posterior pelvic pain) and an easy labor and delivery. Both of those allowed me to return to running very soon after my son was born and I know a lot of females are not as lucky.
But it’s been extremely humbling so far. My body seems to have forgotten what certain paces feel like. I’m a big fan of not running with a Garmin all the time and have gotten pretty good with judging my pace based on perceived effort. But right now, I have no clue what pace my body is moving at. I think (and feel like) I’m running a certain pace and then I look down at my Garmin (or treadmill screen) and see a totally different number – typically about a minute slower than I think I’m running.
Paces that used to be easy for me are now hard. After months of running easy and not doing speedwork, my pace is NO WHERE near where it was even 5-6 months ago, let alone prior to pregnancy.
Back in January (when I was 4 weeks pregnant), I did a 10-mile run on the treadmill in 1:11 (7:05 pace).
A week before, I ran a 10k on the treadmill in 41:40 (6:43 pace).
In June, I ran the NYRR Mini-10k in 48:43 (7:51 pace). I was 25 weeks pregnant at the time and didn’t go all-out for the race.
Where am I right now? On Saturday, I ran the Runner’s World Festival 10k in 48:20 (7:47 pace).
I ran 23 seconds faster this past weekend than I did in June (-> that’s only FOUR seconds per mile) and I was 5+ months pregnant in June. Ouch. (Note: I am not saying that this pace is slow…just that it’s slow for me given the times I am used to running)
It’s a tough reality to deal with – especially since in my mind I am still capable of running these paces. It’s just that my body doesn’t agree right now.
When I sit here at the computer at night, it’s easy to tell myself to be patient. That my pace WILL return. That it takes time. That I should be happy with how I am running so far.
And then I wake up the next day and forget the conversation I had with myself or my husband or ____ (fill in the blank) and I expect to be running my usual pace. I fully expect to wake up and be running a heck of a lot faster than I am right now.
I am trying to stay positive. Unfortunately, we are smack in the middle of fall marathon season. And as amazing as it is being immersed in a running community via twitter, facebook, and blogs, it’s also my achilles heal. I read and hear about amazing long runs, paces, goals, PRs. I want that.
And I hate that I’m jealous. Hate that I feel like I’m starting from square one. Hate that I have such a long road ahead of me to just get back to where I was a year ago, let alone make any improvements.
I know I need to be patient. But honestly, it’s a lot easier said than done at the moment.
Have you had to return from pregnancy or injury? How did you deal with the return?