Saturday, January 23, 2016

Looking on the bright side: getting back at it after baby

While I was pregnant, I enjoyed being active, for the most part. I didn't enjoy waking up early, but afternoon swims and the occasional lift became the only thing that could consistently get me off the couch in the middle of the summer. I knew all the extra work would help during labor, "they" said, and I was hoping it would help me "bounce back" quicker after Lilly was born.

It didn't. Or, maybe it did and I was just more of a hot mess than I realized. After Lilly was born, not only was I exhausted, still trying to make it to class on time, and trying to figure out this whole exclusive pumping thing, but it hurt to do anything. My core was a mess. Even after four weeks, I could hold a plank for about ten seconds, and anything more involved than a bird dog plank felt like all the stitches were coming apart again. After getting a thumbs up from my midwife at my six week checkup, I started slowly making my way back to the gym, and committed to running a 5K on Thanksgiving,

For the first month or so, I focused on getting my endurance back up, going for timed run/walks on the treadmill, and building back strength. I committed to more core work, which slowly started to come back. My first race back I felt like I had a good first mile, and then my form started to fall apart a little bit. I always knew a strong core is important for running, but it wasn't until after I had a baby that I realized what it feels like to try to run with minimal core support!

Now that Lilly is almost five months old, I finally feel like an athlete again. I'm getting at least six hours of sleep a night, I have a good pumping and hydration system down, and I'm starting to really push myself again. I am by no means back to where I was before, but I definitely picked up a few good habits! Here's some of the bright side of getting back to the gym after a baby:

- When you have less time, every workout can become a HIIT workout. I used to dilly dally at the gym, making sure my music was on, my earbuds were untangled, my grip was just right on the bar, my shoes were tied correctly.....these days, I usually have maybe 45 minutes to workout in between classes or before it gets too dark to walk home. I'm still not a big fan of waking up early, and having to wake up at 6 anyway to feed Lilly doesn't make it easier to get my butt out the door to the gym. As a result, running to the gym is usually my warm up, I focus on higher weight, lower rep exercises like deadlifts and barbell squats, then run my butt off. I was never a big fan of speedwork, and as long as HGTV was on I was fine doing 8 miles on the treadmill, but just yesterday I did 3 miles of intervals and ended my workout feeling like I had given more than an 8 miler used to demand. The faster paces are feeling easier, and the longer distances are feeling shorter, so I guess I must be doing something right!

- Every race is a new chance to PR. I've only done one race, a 5K turkey trot, but it's the best 5K time I've had since I had a baby! Next month I'm doing a 10K and a half marathon, and I'm 100% sre I'll get my new post-baby PR at both of those too!

- New workout clothes. OK, so maybe I am starting to fit back into last season's tri shorts with less bulges. And t shirts don't exactly stop fitting. But I still feel like I deserve new clothes!

- Every workout feels like the first time. Because it's probably the first time you've done those kind of oblique crunches in a while, and the next day, you can feel it. Everywhere. On the one hand, you feel like you're making progress, yay! On the other hand, everything hurts, boo.

- I have the best excuse to skip ever. Some days I just need a little bit of extra sleep (mostly, Thursdays). Some days I just can't leave Lilly at home with Daddy for another hour just so I can lift heavy things. And I don't feel bad about it.

It hasn't been quite as easy as I thought it would be (what was I thinking?) but it also hasn't been half bad (no diastasis recti!). I feel like I have a new start, and I'm excited to start laying down a strong base for an awesome race season!