As 2021 draws to a close I am looking back and reflecting on how far I have come this year on my postpartum running journey so far - from going right back to basics nine months after Max was born to being ready to start marathon training for spring 2022.
It all started in mid-January, when I started the This Mum Runs Run30 programme after taking well over a year off running. I did every session with Max in the buggy and together we built up from 1 minute run/walk intervals to running 30 minutes nonstop over eight weeks of training. I was so hesitant about starting and wondered how Max would take to our new routine, but I am so glad I went for it - I only wish we’d started a couple of months earlier as I’d had the running buggy since before he was even born!
February was my first month of consistent running approximately 3 times a week and I also managed to run 20 minutes straight with no walking breaks for the first time in such a long time. Although I’ve run much longer times and distances since then I still remember how amazing it felt to hit that milestone - as if I’d finally got back into my running stride and nothing could stop me now!
In March, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day with Max by going for a little plod. It was the perfect way to end my maternity leave, having also finally completed the last session of Run30. I ran 50 miles in total that month and my confidence was really starting to grow.
April quickly arrived and with that came Max’s first birthday. I was so disappointed that we were back in lockdown and unable to have the party I’d imagined but lockdown or not at least we could still keep running together. Just a few days before his birthday I ran my first postpartum 10k and felt over the moon. 10k was another major milestone for me as it has always been my favourite distance to run.
In May we welcomed the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions by exploring a few more local running destinations, including a couple of local trails and running along the seafront. I ran my second 75 mile month in a row and was so pleased to be staying consistent with my running despite my return to work a couple of months earlier.
At the beginning of June I ran my first race of the year, and although it was virtual it was such an amazing morning. I chose a flat and scenic route, took Max and the buggy with me, pinned on my race number and went for it! I exceeded my own expectations of the time I could achieve, finishing the virtual Vitality London 10k in 57:40. It prompted me to believe in myself a bit more and I started to think about what other challenges or races I might attempt before the end of the year.
July was arguably my highest achieving month of the year. I ran 100 miles - my highest monthly mileage to date. In amongst those miles I ran my first postpartum half marathon at Goodwood Motor Circuit - setting a benchmark for future races - and my first ever buggy parkrun. The return of parkrun was something I’d looked forward to for so many months. It was amazing to take Max along and finally involve him in the wider running community.
By August I was halfway through training for my second half marathon of the year, and having only ever run one race of that distance before having Max I was so chuffed to be in a position to train for two within the space of a couple of months. I also celebrated my own birthday with a very hot and sweaty buggy run!
September saw my second half marathon this year in Southampton, and although I was gutted not to have managed a PB, I loved meeting up with an 'instarunner' friend in real life and running and chatting together. It was the first race I’d taken part in since the pandemic began where there was a real atmosphere and sense of community before and during the race. It felt strange standing in such a big crowd at the start but I’m so glad I entered it.
In October I ran two very different 10k races. The first was at Run Bournemouth where I surpassed my own expectations (again!) and smashed a huge postpartum PB in my home town surrounded by a great group of friends. I was also due to run the Portsmouth Race For Life at the end of the month with my wonderful colleague, friend and cancer survivor along with Max in the buggy and a couple of other friends. It was cancelled at the last minute due to bad weather but the five of us (plus Max) still ran our own 10k route in the crazy wind and raised over £1000 for Cancer Research UK.
At the start of November I decided to go for a new postpartum buggy parkrun PB and although I was a few seconds short of my aim I was so pleased at how close I was getting to my pre-baby race times. The rest of the month was spent training for my third and final half marathon of the year, whilst I started to seriously consider whether I could realistically sign up for a spring marathon in 2022.
December came along and with it came another huge PB to finish off the year on a high. I ran Dorney Lake Half Marathon 10 minutes quicker that my first postpartum half marathon attempt on a very similar course with my university friend turned running buddy. I also loved running a Christmas theme parkrun, even though we didn't run on Christmas Day. I am closing out 2021 having run over 800 miles (including over 600 with the buggy). That’s over 800 more miles than 2020 and my highest ever mileage in a year since I started running back in 2017.
This year really has been the year of the running comeback and I feel like I am now in a position to be entering 2022 ready to push myself to run further and faster than ever before. I have now officially started training for Brighton Marathon in April. I can’t wait for more buggy running adventures with Max and hopefully our first ever (non-virtual) buggy race together too!
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