March 21st 2017 I stopped running.
At the time, I had no idea if I would ever start again. On that day, I was prepared to say bye to running for good. I had to commit to it, otherwise it would be too easy to beat myself up, let myself slip into old habits, allow toxic thoughts to come in.
When I made the decision that I was going to stop running, after a week of deliberation, I had to be prepared to step away from the sport knowing that what I had accomplished was enough.
I didn’t know if I would ever get that desire to run back again, and to be successful at getting your period back, the biggest thing I learned, above all else, is that you have to let go of expectations of when things are going to happen.
You cannot say to yourself that it will be back on a certain date, you don’t know that, it will happen when YOUR body is ready.
You cannot say to yourself that it will be back when you reach a certain weight, you don’t know that either. It will happen when YOUR body feels safe and secure.
You cannot say to yourself that you will stop exercise for so many days because by then it will be back, you don’t know that, it will happen when YOUR body feels that the energy balance is matched (or even slightly in abundance).
So I did.
You know the rest.
A few days after I fell pregnant, I did start to run again, incredibly cautious with it, and I felt TERRIBLE.
After 10 weeks of no running, the only exercise I did was strength training with Drew (speaking of which, our strength plan is available for pre-sale now!), and even that was carefully controlled to not push my body as it was working so hard on creating a human life.
I ran throughout the rest of my pregnancy, all the way through to the end…other than the few days before as it was icy outside and I did not want to risk it.
But I felt awful, the entire way.
Some days in the second trimester I would have a good day, and I would feel somewhat like myself, but those were few and far between, and I was still very scared of pushing my body. After all, the priority here was health for my baby, I did not want to do anything more than just be in good health.
So I took it day by day, but slowly allowed myself to think about my postpartum journey. In interviews I went from saying, “I don’t know if I will ever run competitive again” to, “well, I probably will, but just have no idea when”. I hoped that I would feel better than this. I knew that consistent training would bring back my fitness, and I knew that there were plenty of other inspiring mother runners out there who had run faster than ever after baby, and I could be one of them.
But I didn’t know if I had it in me to want to actually train again.
During pregnancy I was just running, a few times a week, taking days off if I didn’t feel like it.
Could I commit to actually having a structure with it? Having races on the calendar? Pushing myself in hard workouts?
All I had done was so easy you could have a conversation…other than maybe those final few months of pregnancy, it didn’t matter how slow I went, I was exhausted from start to finish.
I didn’t know the answer to that question, I do now.
I do want to return to competitive running. I do want to see what this new and evolved Tina is. The Tina who has been through an all natural childbirth. The Tina who is learning to be flexible and unstructured (well, less structured). The Tina who has a new reason to run that is more inspiring than anything has been in many years.
I do not want to put a time or date on this. By now if you know me, you know I am all about running by effort, running without looking at paces (#nowatchme), and listening to your body as much as possible.
I want my return to running to be all about enjoying it and doing what feels right. Putting a race on the calendar may have been motivating in the past, but I have a child now, and things may happen. I want to put her first, get my running in as best I can, and see when my body tells me it is ready to give a race a try.
Yes, that means I will probably be staying mostly local with any races I decide to jump in, but it means I can just decide on the day, allow running to stay fun and lighthearted, which my running has never really been.
Ever since I was 14 and decided I wanted to commit to running, I have always been training to get fit to race, and now, I am looking forward to this time with no pressure, no expectation, and no requirements.
We all know that the more relaxed you are, the better you run, so who knows what will happen.
Someday I intend to get back to full training, where I am really seeing what I am made of. I DO want a postpartum Great Britain jersey, to show them that I was not just a one (okay, two) and done. I DO want to run around 2:30 in the marathon, and I DO want to break 16:00 in the 5k, but when and where it happens, only time will tell.
In the meantime, I just plan on running mostly what I feel on the day, enjoying being able to run a little faster (relative term, I am actually running slower overall, I just mean easy run pace fast) on regular runs, and experimenting a bit with the time and opportunities I am presented with.
A Disney race will be on the cards, that I want to make happen for sure, the ultimate race to enjoy and have fun, but otherwise, I will be free styling it.
Let the postpartum journey begin…
Oh, and one more thing:
This time I am NOT losing my period! Whatever weight my body chooses. Whatever mileage my body decides enough. Whatever I have to eat to keep it there. A loss of period means one thing for me; my body is not happy, time to make a change.