At this moment i’m 11 ½ months postpartum. In the sleep department any new moms out there know where I am. I’ve experienced the sleepless nights but i’ve also felt the beauty of a full night’s sleep return, now making those middle of the night wake ups perhaps that much more brutal.
I returned to running, cautiously, 8 weeks after having my baby girl and after a few set backs i’m finally able to say i’m strong, pain / injury free, and gearing up to run my first postpartum race in 2 weeks at the Runner’s World Festival.
I’m running arguably stronger than I ever have before, training smarter, and really looking forward to putting it all out there.
My goal, like many runners, is to PR this upcoming half. It would be a victorious PR that has taken a lot of patience and time to return to, and would happen exactly one year minus one week from delivering my babe.
In The Thick of the Training
I’m coming up on week 14 of training. It has been a solid and strong 3 months. But I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I just finally came up out of what felt like a deep dark hole of the cycle, in which I had moments where I started to hate the runs, hate the way my body was feeling, and have general constant exhaustion. I was traveling consecutive weeks for work, battling daycare viruses (in me and babe) and life just felt a little heavier.
Now that i’m on the other side of it – healthy, strong, motivated – i’m realizing that it was just one of those times when the sleepless nights and sickness combined with the stress of work, a baby and training for a race culminates into a massive feeling of exhaustion. You know, that type of exhaustion where you want to crawl under the covers of your bed and maybe never emerge?
But I definitely had a few moments where I felt overtrained. Had I peaked to soon? Was the postpartum-working-mom-life combined with the running too much for me to handle? I ultimately backed off on both my intensity of my mileage and really rested to kick these nasty colds (the root of what was getting me down, I believe) but it got me thinking about what it means to be overtrained and what to do about it.
Signs You’re Overtrained
Running, Crossfit-ting or just dedicated gym-going, here are a few of the signs that your body may be telling you to take a step back for a few days:
Mild to moderate lingering muscle soreness, general aches and pains
Drop in performance & drop in desire to perform
Elevated resting heart rate
Feeling like everyday tasks (grocery shopping, prepping the kids dinners, etc.) feel like huge feats
Finding the Other Side
For a week or 2 acknowledge the way your body and mind are feeling and allow yourself to cut back. Build in more ‘easy’ run days and add an additional rest day and give yourself a short break from high intensity workouts and long runs.
Whenever you can, choose sleep. Opt to sleep more and fit your run into a time later in the day or evening, go to bed (or just get in bed) earlier.
Beyond trying to get more shut eye try and just give yourself more downtime. Lay in bed earlier with a good book, log a few more couch minutes in the evening, take a restorative yoga class or a good steamy bubble bath.
Eating the right foods at the right time can increase the speed of your recovery. Work to eat both protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing your run (can be a small snack) to stop your body from breaking down muscle and to start the repair process.
As you attempt to recover (immediately and long term over your training cycle), increase lean or plant-based protein sources, carbohydrates from whole foods (such as whole grains, starches and fruits) and increase overall calorie intake, all of which will support your body’s repair efforts.
It’s possible that you’re not actually overtrained but instead just having a tough week or two of workouts due to other life stressors – it happens. But if signs of fatigue, slow recovery or more are creeping in evaluate where you are and allow yourself to back off. Backing off for just a day or a few days could mean the difference in a PR or sitting on the sidelines due to injury or illness come race morning or for the next 2+ weeks of planned fitness.
Kim is on a mission to help educate and empower mama’s to get back their pre-babe nutrition and fitness goals, all while keeping things raw and realistic. She supports women through nutrition coaching and is on a quest to educate parents on how to better feed their babes. Connect with Kim on social – @betterbitesforbabe & @foodierunnergrl or work with her!