Returning to running post pregnancy – reintroducing speed
Updated: Jul 30, 2020
After my run at the Sydney Running Festival, I started to think about what the next step was for rebuilding my running post pregnancy. There wasn’t another race that I was set on in the immediate future, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try to keep increasing the distance and look at a half marathon, or try to get faster over the shorter distances.
I was hoping to run a sub 20 parkrun before the end of the year, but also know I am ultimately aiming to build up to a marathon.
This is how my post pregnancy running increased from when my baby was born until she was three months old on Blackmores day:
walking every day – from week one
adding run/walk intervals on some days – from week 5-6
extending to run time and reducing the walk time (up to 15 minutes of running) – from week 7-8
adding extra time to each run (up to half an hour) – from week 9-10
swapping other walk days for run days – from week 10
From there, the next thing to do was to keep increasing the distance or add some speed work.
I spoke to the physio about what was next, and she said she thought I could actually do both. She suggested I go up to 16-18km for a long run and try an speed session.
The longest I had run at that point 12km so I added a bit to that each week, and ran 14km, 16km, 17km and 19km for my next four long runs. I did them on Saturdays with parkrun in the middle so my husband and I can alternate long run days. He walked parkrun with our daughter while I ran.
But the bit I was most excited about was including a speed session. I had been looking forward to it for most of the year.
I’ve now done three since I had that chat with the physio, they were:
6min, 5,4,3,2,1 with half the time recovery between each rep
6 x 3min, 90 second recovery
8 x 400m(ish) off 3mins
I did one per week for the last three weeks, replacing a steady run. I threw myself in the deep end a bit with the first one. We went to my club session to do it because I didn’t want to run alone and we can bring the baby with us. It was a long session for a first one back.
I aimed for a pace I thought I could maintain throughout, which was 4min pace. I managed to hold it and even increase a little bit for the shorter reps at the end. The recoveries is where I felt my fitness being down on what it was. I started out running them, but by the end was walking some of them.
The 3min session was a hard one, I did it solo on a path near my house. I planned to do 7 reps, but was pretty spent by about 4, so cut it back to 6. I also don’t really know what my pace was because the GPS didn’t work, I’d guess about 4min average again. The recovery was standing for these ones.
The 400m session was easily the best one I’ve done so far. I had the benefit of running it with my husband while a friend looked after our baby. It’s always easier for me to do speed work with someone. We got up to about 3.30/km pace which was a huge confidence boost. The recovery was standing for the remainder of the 3 minutes after we finished the rep.
My best parkrun time before I added in the speed was 20.54. The three following were 20.33, 20.07 and 19.46. I definitely think it made a difference, and it was great to tick of goal number 2.
I have noticed though since adding the speed and increasing my distance, that I have been sorer after some of the runs. I think the important thing here for me is to keep up the strength work. I have always found it harder to fit in when I have a pretty full running schedule. But since I’m rebuilding from almost no running, it’s going to be important for injury prevention.
My last parkrun also felt like a test for my pelvic floor, which I think is going to happen as I increase my limits. I’ve done a separate post on the strength and pelvic floor work I’ve been doing.
For now, I’m off to do speed session number 4 post baby, which will be the 400s again. I feel like it’s best for me at the moment because it’s short and sharp so not too tiring and gives and opportunity to run quite fast.
Wet parkrun in 20.07