Returning to running post pregnancy – first race and testing my pelvic floor
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
In the three weeks following, I had my first big post pregnancy goal, my first race.
When I was pregnant and thinking about the running I would to do after my daughter arrived, I set a little goal for myself to do the 10km at Blackmores. I had anticipated having her at the start of July, having six weeks off running, then having about 4 weeks to get fit enough to do the race.
I knew I wouldn’t be running fast, but was curious to see how long it would take me. The only small time goal I had was to try to do it faster than the one 10km I did while I was pregnant (47mins at about 23 weeks pregnant).
The goal posts changed a little bit when she arrived three weeks early and gave me a head start. By the time the race arrived, she would be exactly 3 months old.
With a few extra weeks of running and a couple of hard parkruns under my belt, I did want to see what time I could run if I pushed myself a bit.
My running in the few weeks before Blackmores didn’t change drastically from what I had been doing. I had a lot of help from friends who were willing to sit in the park or walk with Beth while I ran. I extended my longest run to about an hour to make sure I was confident of running the whole 10km.
I also worked with the physio to increase some of the strength work I had been doing, in particular core strength. One exciting thing that happened was being told I was strong enough to plank of my feet instead of my knees (seriously, I was excited!).
The other thing that happened in the lead up to Blackmores was that my pelvic floor was truly tested for the first time since giving birth.
Before I started to increase the running, I did a test that my physio gave me which involved drinking enough water to fill my bladder, waiting until I really needed to go, then doing 20 star jumps. It sounded scary, but I managed it with no issues.
In my last post, I mentioned that I did a parkrun in 21.20. It was definitely my limit at the time and I crossed the finish line feeling like I really needed to pee. My pelvic floor muscles were obviously tired from the increased effort, but luckily being at the finish line and stopping was enough to make the feeling go away.
I decided to take it easier the following week, and did at first, but picked it up towards the end. I was anticipating a similar sensation, and it was there but perhaps not quite as strong.
Blackmores was two weeks later, and knowing I was running twice as far, I was a little bit nervous. I lined up for the portaloos at the start even though I didn’t really feel like I needed to go. Better to be safe than sorry!
It’s not the easiest 10km I’ve ever done. I planned to go out comfortably, about 4.30min/km pace, and did going up the hill over the bridge. Going down the other side, I was suddenly at 4min/km pace. Oops!
The downhill meant I went through 5km faster than any of the parkruns I’ve done (21.18). The good thing was that while my pelvic floor felt like it had reached its limit at the end of those parkruns, it wasn’t even on my radar half way through the 10km.
The not so good thing was that I was pretty spent!
The second half included the usual negotiations with myself about whether or not to walk (I didn’t). I did slow down slightly, mostly up the hills, but I was too tired to take much advantage of momentum on the big downhill to the finish.
That is also where Marty and Beth were waiting and I was determined to stop for a quick hello. When I did, my first thought was that I had made a huge mistake because all of a sudden I needed a bathroom right away! There wasn’t one, and I still had about 400m to run.
I kept going, the whole time expecting an accident, but the finish line saved me again.
Similar to the previous time, I think the muscles were tired because I ran hard for longer than I have in awhile. I was happy with the result, running 43.03.
I am seriously glad that I have stuck to my physio exercises, because I do think that working on my pelvic floor strength almost every day has helped me in these situations (plus an increase in general strength and fitness).
A month ago, 5km hard was my limit in terms of pelvic strength. Now, that distance feels good and comfortable, and 10km is definitely my limit. Hopefully I can keep increasing to build up to a half marathon.
The other thing that is still a factor in the amount of running I can do is breastfeeding. The quest to get my daughter to take a bottle continues! But for this race, my strategy to be able to run and make sure she wouldn’t starve was to wake up, feed, pump, pack a bottle just in case, go to the start, feed again, race!
It was only about 90 minutes at most from when I said goodbye at the start to finding them at the finish. It’s unlikely she would have needed to feed in that time. But I will have to keep persisting if I’m going to increase my distance. That will be something for working towards the next goal!
My next step after this race was adding speed work back into my training. Read about that here.