One year post-baby and how’s training going? Well, 13 months actually and I’m starting to make progress. Pregnancy was easy, birth was hard and getting back to fitness has come with a great deal of patience and frustration.
I’m not as strong or as fit as I was but I’m not worried about it. The whole process has taken longer than I thought it would. There’s been a few setbacks and injuries and it’s been necessary to make adjustments to expectations along the way. But this has been the best thing for me. Roughly, I’ve lost about 8kg in 8 months and last weekend I ran a 10km event in semi-respectable time. (in January I could barely run 3km without stopping).
I’m turning 38 this year and for the first time in my life I’m aware of it. My body reminds me of it. Or at least it did last year when I tried to do too much, too quickly. At the time I was breast-feeding, lacking decent sleep and trying to train like I always had. I was also hobbling around nursing a sore this and sore that and I knew fairly quickly there was only one way such niggles would go if I didn’t change something.
I should have known better but the truth is, I’ve always been one to push myself at training. This commitment to it is one of my strengths but can also be one of my downfalls. Plus, when you come off 6 months of pregnancy training, you’re kind of busting to get back into some “hard stuff”. Patience also isn’t a strong point.
To be fair, it’s also hard to know exactly how much is too much. It was a trial and error situation for me but I think the most important thing is knowing when to pull back. I knew I was going about things the wrong way when training left me sore, exhausted and often feeling worse not better.
Pre-Francesca I used to train 6 times a week and considerably more than this back in my triathlon days. I would lift heavy weights and push hard in HITT style conditioning sessions. For most of this year I’ve been sticking with 4 sessions per week, only recently kicking this up to 5 or 6 as fitness allowed. This consists of 2 or 3 light cross-training sessions, 2 runs and a yoga class, swim or walk. This fits a little better with the demands of a child and business and doesn’t leave me feeling too tired (or my husband too neglected!).
Cutting back the volume in order to build up slowly gave me the time and motivation to give more attention to my diet. We all know this is how we shed the unwanted kilos. I dedicated the extra couple of hours a week to solid meal planning, shopping, cooking and general food organisation and I feel much more focussed and motivated in this area because if it. This also allowed me to let go of the need to train a little because if you know your diet is spot-on, you don’t have to worry about training to burn off this or that. This is a balance right I really need to get right now more than ever before and I highly recommend it.
Not only have I needed to manage the volume of training I’m doing but I’ve also needed to be careful with intensity. Delayed onset muscle soreness and post-exercise exhaustion sucks and can be unproductive at the best of times but it’s lunacy to do this to yourself if looking after a toddler 24/7. They are very inconsiderate of your needs and generally unsympathetic creatures.
So five months into this year and I have built back some basic strength, just by doing lighter sessions, not by lifting heavy. Many may do it faster, slower or not worry about it altogether – all of which is fine. Whichever way you go just be flexible, ready to adapt, kind to yourself and adjust your expectations to what’s realistic for you. Be prepared to discover a new way of going about things. Doing what you’ve always done may no longer get you what you’ve always gotten.