Last year at this time I was training for the Boston Marathon. I also had a one month old baby. Basically from the time my son was born via c-section I had 13 weeks until the marathon. Subtract 4 weeks for recovery and that left 9 weeks to train for a marathon. If you are wondering if you can safely train under those conditions I will fill you in… NO!!! It is a complete recipe for DISASTER. Smart runners would know this and either not run Boston at all or decide to walk/ run it. Me? I was planning to run it in under 4 hours, of course.
My training for Boston:
Once I found out (at 27 weeks pregnant) while registering for Boston that I could not defer my entry I had to make the decision on whether or not running it at 13 weeks postpartum (and post c-section) was even a possibility. I didn’t make any final official decision but in my head I was going for it. My “training” was maintaining my running while pregnant. While my running buddies were following their carefully planned training schedules I was plugging along getting bigger every day.
Once my son was born I took off 4 weeks to heal. Then I started up with very good intentions. But you should know that good intentions are no match for a mom who is ready to prove she still has it, 20 pounds to lose and the most prestigious marathon in the world. When I went to see my OB doctor at 6 weeks he gave me the official go ahead to start exercising again. Thanks doc, already up to 8 miles. Running just felt so easy, especially since there wasn’t a “basketball” bouncing on my bladder anymore. I loved the freedom running gave me, as it was my only “alone” time out of the house.
I intended to slowly increase my mileage but I was just so ready to get out there. Plus, I was in a time crunch so I didn’t have time to build a strong base. Never underestimate a strong base. By the time my baby was 7 weeks old I randomly decided to run in the Little Rock Half Marathon. Probably not the smartest move. I admit, it felt incredible to be racing again but my body wasn’t quite caught up with my mind. Sure there were challenges with my condensed training program but I could handle them (or at least I thought I could). By the time my son was ten weeks old I ran the one and only 20 miler in my Boston training cycle.
Below is a handy little graph of my mileage in the year 2011. Note that January has zero mileage. I had a baby via c-section so I had to take a month off from running. I started up again mid February and went CRAZY in March. There is no other way to describe it. Then notice April and May…
Do you know what happens when your mileage sky rockets (like mine did in March)? You get a stress fracture. I was diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture the week before the Boston Marathon. I was forced to stop running and reevaluate my priorities. My health was way more important than any one race. My new baby needed me. I completely rested and took off during the months of April and May and it was not easy mentally to do that. I knew that if I ever wanted to run well again I needed to train the right way and listen to my body.
When I started walking I had to take it slow and build up a base from basically nothing. Walking was a very humbling experience for me. I would see runners go by wishing desperately I could join them. When I finally started jogging I could only do it in short distances. I remember when could actually run farther than I had to walk. Gradually over time I was able to jog the full distance without walking. My body needed time to recover between runs so for the longest time I never ran more than 3 to 4 days a week. Eventually I was able to increase to five and later to six although often my “6th” day is a cross training day.
If you are overcoming an injury of any kind you learn the meaning of the word patience. You learn to cross train whether you like it or not. You learn that there is more to life than running. Once you are able to run you appreciate it more and you are thankful for every day that you get to do what you love. I know I do.
I learned so many lessons during and after my Boston Marathon training last year. It’s been a long road and I am so thankful to be where I am today. I am excited to see where running will take me but I know that I have to be smart about it and listen to my body. I know that one day I will get to run in the Boston Marathon (Lord willing, April of 2013!!!) and I will get there by training the right way.
|Houston Marathon- January 15, 2011|
What are some training errors you have made during a marathon cycle? Were you still able to race? If so, how did it go? If not, how did you cope with taking time off?