Honest Thoughts on Postpartum Marathon Training
One year ago, I made a commitment to myself to train and run a marathon. One year ago, I was just about to have my son, Benaiah. I was running through my pregnancy, but just around 1-2 miles at a time. It felt comfortable for me then and I was happy with that amount of mileage. However, inwardly, the marathon dream was alive and well and I knew that once I had my son, I wanted to train for my marathon dream.
Fast forward, a year later, and here I am, running 40 mile weeks, clocking 18 mile runs, and my now ‘short run’ is 5 miles. But, the journey to get where I am now has been full of different emotions, sacrifices, confidence, and doubt. And as I reflect on my training, thus far, I’m realizing a couple of things.
First, I’m realizing that the human body which God has so amazingly designed is capable of extraordinary things. I learned this lesson once through pregnancy/childbirth and I am relearning this through watching my body adapt and stretch and become stronger in training season. Honestly, after having Benaiah, six weeks following birth my average run was about 1.5-2 miles and those miles felt long. I remember the first 3 mile run after having Benaiah and I felt like I conquered the world.
After that 3 miler, I struggled with some hip flexor issues, which eventually resolved. But, over months of consistency, dedication, and lots of effort, those 3 mile ‘long runs’ turned into short runs, which turned into 5 miles which then turned into 10+ miles. Through this training, I am convinced that if we, as runners, and people follow plans, stick with it, and never give up, we can achieve our goals!
Secondly, I’ve learned that if you have big dreams, it takes a lot of work. Honestly, I think I underestimated a little bit at just how much time marathon training takes. If I am not running in the morning, I am planning my morning run. If I am not planning my morning run, I am foam rolling or stretching or icing, etc. And as much as I LOVE IT, it does take a lot of time to get ready for a marathon! I can tell why some runners only run one or two per year.
Lastly, I’ve learned to give myself grace and adjust expectations. My postpartum running pace per mile is a little slower than I used to be, and that is okay. At first, I wanted to really get my pace back down, but instead of trying to build mileage and work on speed, I decided to focus on distance and work on speed in the fall (post-marathon). As a mother, it is not always possible to get my run in as early as I want. Some days, I am pushing the stroller at 11 am and though not ideal, it is totally worth it. Motherhood means sacrifice, it means some times a run will have to happen at night, and it is okay. Training for this marathon, in a season of being ‘postpartum’ has revealed to me my own ability to conquer what I didn’t know if I could conquer and also the ability to prioritize what is most important in my life (Jesus, my husband, and Benaiah.) I never want running or marathon training to take any of their rightful places in my life.
I think there is something beautiful in chasing down big goals and dreaming big dreams and I think that is why I’ve fallen in love with this marathon journey. It’s not really solely about the race, but about the journey getting there. It’s about the early morning training runs, and the really hard stroller miles, and the strength training sessions, and the missed sleep, and the really, really long Saturday morning group runs. The marathon is simply a celebration of all the training put into this thing and I am humbled to be where I am at now.
I think I’ve decided the beauty of the marathon training isn’t in the glory of the long runs, but it’s found in those moments when you are running simply for the sheer joy of running. It’s the moment when I realize I finished something that wondered was possible for me. It’s those moments that make everything so, so worth it.
Questions of the Day
- Are you training for anything specific? If so, what is it?
- Finish the sentence: The best part of my Tuesday will be ________
- Are you a goal chaser? Do you have a long bucket list?