Baby, I'm Coming Back is a series during which we follow Train Like a Mother Coach MK Fleming as she returns to running shape from having her fourth kid in six years.
Weeks 10-14: Integrate the pelvic floor into some three moves that build overall strength and muscular coordination; they are demonstrated in this video and explained in this PDF you can reference anytime.
Find Weeks 0-6 here; Weeks 6-10 here; and look for weeks 15-20 in about four weeks!
Grab the PDF of the video for easy access.
We last spoke when I was six weeks postpartum and was all about the pelvic floor. (And guess what? I still am.)
I'm so excited to tell you what happened during this four-week stretch, but before we get there, let's review a bit:
- Week 3: I dislocate my left shoulder and start seeing Alex twice per week. He tells me I am the most extreme case of hypermobility he has ever seen. That isn't a compliment; it's a warning.
- Week 6: I am released by my OBGYN and immediately seek the care of a pelvic floor PT twice per week I also resume my routine of (heavily modified!) reformer pilates classes 5 days per week, which I performed throughout my pregnancy. I also start walking, aiming for 45 minutes every other day. I have to wear my bondage gear (SI belt, shoulder sling and Squeem) because I am still intensely hypermobile.
-Week 8: Alex tells me to ask my pelvic floor PT if I can start doing targeted core work yet; she says no. Strengthening the TVA is a priority but it is next on the list. Starting too soon can undo gains in the pelvic floor, so we need that stabilized before we do anything else. Walking is going well; I'm now at 23 miles per week.
-Week 10: My pelvic floor PT clears me to run and reduces me to weekly visits. She rarely clears people before 16 weeks post-partum but says my diligence with the exercises has paid off. She also says I have no signs of diastisis and clears me to perform core work. I'm walking 30 miles per week.
-Week 11: My milk dries up, my joints stabilize seemingly overnight, and I no longer need the bondage gear to go for my walks. My shoulder is healing nicely and I only have pain in certain, avoidable, positions. My SI is totally stable and no longer painful. I'm maxing out at walking 30 miles per week because it is a HUGE time-suck and I've started slowly coming back to AMR and TLAM work. I haven't lost a pound since I came home from the hospital, then lost 6 pounds in my first week of working with Ellie Kempton of Nourished Like a Mother.
That brings us to week 12, when Alex said that he wants me to be careful, but we can introduce some running. I nearly cried, I was so happy.
Let me pause here to tell you that as a runner, THE most important tool in my kit isn't my coach or my training plan. It's my PT. I started working with Alex in 2013 after I moved to Colorado and right before I gave birth to my second child. He has treated me pretty consistently, at least once per month, ever since. During hard training cycles I make standing weekly appointments.
This is why I beg my run clients to see a PT at the beginning of a training cycle. Establish care so your provider can establish a solid baseline. When things go wrong, your provider has a frame of reference for the distance between 'baseline' and 'broken'. They can also identify your weak spots and make you harder to break.
He asked me if I planned to keep the 140 HR cap I have my athletes use in Heart Rate 101 and my heart rate race programs; I said of course I do!
I know my joints can't yet take the impact fast running will generate. I want to run more than anything, but we both know my next best steps involve general strength so I can generate power and run efficiently (or just stop huffing and puffing each time I climb stairs). He asked what pace I would be aiming for; I said in my last training cycle my recovery pace would usually shake out around 12:30, so that's probably as good a speed limit as I can ask for. He told me to start with 4 sets of 2 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking, aiming for 12:30 on the run portion.
I drove directly to the park, did Silly Toes for my first time in a year, walked my ten-minute warm up, then proceeded to nail my 4 intervals. I felt stronger than I expected to, and the intervals felt really consistent. I was SO PROUD of myself for holding back, you guys! I couldn't wait to sync my Polar and see that run on Strava.
My intervals were 8:30, 9:50, 10:45 and 9:52. Don't ask where my heart rate was. I overshot just.a.little.
Muscles have memory, but they start to break down after 3 days of unuse. I spent 7 months of this pregnancy in bed. Pilates was a great way to support my changing frame and retain some muscle tone, but my muscles aren't generating much power yet.
My runs--and my insight into my pace--since then have improved.... somewhat. Intervals on my last run were 9:51, 9:52, 9:50, and 10:15. This was my 140 pace right before this pregnancy; thank you muscle memory and neuropatterning.
The next few weeks will be devoted to more pilates, all of the strength work Alex Lanton gave me, Ellie's nutrition plan, and the search for 12:30. Pacing is both art and science, and it gets MUCH easier as you get stronger.
I—and you— have nowhere to go but up! See you in four weeks!