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Birth to base training

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

I’ve had a few chats recently about how I moved from walking to running when starting back after the birth of my baby.

In a previous post, I gave an overview of the approach I took, which was:

  1. Walking – from week one

  2. Adding run/walk intervals – from week 6

  3. Extending to run time and reducing the walk time, up to 15 minutes of running – from week 7-8

  4. Adding extra time to each run, up to half an hour three days a week – from week 9-10

  5. Adding a fourth run – from week 11

  6. Adding a fifth run – from week 13

  7. First race – week 14

  8. Extending my long run distances – from week 15

  9. Reintroducing speed training – from week 16

  10. Adding a sixth run – from week 16

I have put my progression in a table below to show how I built up to base training, which is about 70km a week for me, after my daughter was born. It is what worked for me, some people might get there faster, others might take longer. But it shows how I moved from walking to running to faster running.

There are a few things I learnt along the way. I tried to get into a routine as much as possible, because I like making my running habitual. It’s been hard to achieve at times though, and I’ve changed things around more than once.

Week 15 – I introduced a Monday run for the first time as a recovery following my race on the Sunday. It was a slightly longer recovery than I probably would have usually done, but anytime I had someone to mind Beth, I wanted to make the most of it. The following week, I went back to doing parkrun on Saturday and a recovery on Sunday. Monday became a walking day again for a few more weeks, until I was ready to add another run.

Week 16 – I had a big jump in my running kilometres because I did a double session on the Thursday. I had plans to walk in the morning, and when they fell through, I took Beth to the crèche for the first time and did a treadmill run. I had tentatively discussed doing intervals that night, but I ran in the morning in case it didn’t happen. I ended up doing both, which would have been fine at my normal fitness level, but was too much for where I was at. I had lighter weeks for the next two weeks until I was more comfortable with the volume.

Adding speed – my first two speed sessions back were on Thursday nights, which I used to do before I was pregnant. I found myself feeling a bit heavy in the days that followed, probably because it had been so long since I’d done speed. With Saturday being my parkrun and long run day, I felt like I needed more time between that and the speed session. I moved the speed work to Wednesday lunch, which worked a lot better. This will probably change again because Wednesday lunch is getting too hot for speed, but it worked well for getting back into it.

Treadmill running – each time I added a new running day to my routine, I started by including a run in the middle of a walk. As I got fitter, those days became a walk to the start of the run loop, a run, then a walk home. When I started to run on the treadmill, my walking dropped off a lot, mostly because the gym I go to most frequently is so close to home that I don’t have to walk very far to get there. I would usually still go out with Beth in the pram in the afternoon, a short trip to the shops or to run a few errands. It didn’t feel like my earlier walks where I was getting my heart rate up or trying to walk up hills for fitness, so I stopped recording them.

Routine – this was probably in equal parts for me and for Beth. After a few weeks of going to the gym on Monday and Tuesday mornings, it felt like we developed a bit of a routine where I would feed her, then she fell asleep in the pram on the way to the gym. Then when we didn’t go out on Wednesday mornings, we were all out of whack. I felt like I was ready to try the double run again, so by the last week on my list below, we went to the gym on the Wednesday for an easy run before my speed session. Beth slept in the pram like she did the two days prior and more or less stayed in her same sleep routine for the rest of the day.

Running every day – in week 19 and 20, I ran every day. I’ve done this in the past when I’ve been marathon training, and had the opportunity because friends offered to mind Beth. I didn’t think too much of it, but the physio told me when I mentioned it that it might be a bit too much. She said that ultimately it was my decision, as I know my body, but I should monitor how I’m going in case of potential injury and make sure I stick to the strength work. I did cut back to six days again after we had that chat, but my overall distance still went up as I was progressively increasing my long runs. I think I will be running seven days again soon, but it was a good reminder that I am rebuilding and need to make sure that I do so incrementally.

This ended up being a longer post than I had planned, which I thought at first would probably just be the table below! But given that there were a few important things I learnt along the way, it was probably worth giving a bit of explanation with it. Like I said earlier, this isn’t a program that will work for everyone coming back from having a baby. It likely won’t even be what I do if I was to get pregnant again. But it might be useful as a guide to show I transitioned from walking to running, and increased the running.

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