Ran my first 5K since delivering C last weekend. Managed to snag a 26:09, which secured a 1st place finish in the 25-29 female division, and while I was thrilled with my accomplishment, (and even more excited to bring my pretty gold medal home to C!), I learned that any training for any event from here on out will be a trial of wills.
Finding time to bang out runs that are even a small semblance of what is dictated in the various training plans that I have hanging around on Pinterest is hard enough; finding the ENERGY to complete the runs is the true challenge! C was diagnosed with reflux and the pediatrician thinks she has a "touch of colic", so essentially the last 3 weeks sleep has been a luxury, feeling rested a distant memory. To top it off, C is DEFINITELY a breast-fed baby, like, hard-core. As in, refuses a bottle/pacifier, preferring instead to scream and wail her little head off until either I give in, (which is all too often), and hike up my shirt, or cry until she's so exhausted and hungry she has no other choice but to take the bottle. Couple that with acid reflux, some colic, and her own 7 week old lack of patience and the result are some long, sleepless, mentally and emotionally draining nights that stretch into even longer days. Luckily, my husband is wonderful and does great with her, which allows me some free time to try to throw down a run or a brief episode of cross-training, and I'm very lucky that my mother-in-law loves spending time with C, so that has helped, but nothing...and I mean NOTHING can take the place of a good nights' sleep when training for ANY distance!
My husband is of course still working while I'm still on maternity leave, and while we are seriously considering me switching to part-time work, teaching at the local community college and working in the Nursing Skills Lab, that still doesn't change the fact that I, she with the milk bags, is the primary source of midnight comfort for C. My husband does get up with her when he doesn't have to work the next day, or if he is going in a little later, so that helps. But nothing changes the fact that there is marked deficit in sleep when one sleeps very little and very broken the other 5 nights a week.
What does this mean for training? Well...I am now convinced that I could be an instructor for the USMC in the art of functioning at optimal performance under the duress of sleep deprivation. Do I have advice? Nope...because NOTHING out there prepares you for the all-encompassing exhaustion that comes with motherhood, therefore I wouldn't even dare try to give any sort of advice. Just my personal experiences and how I cope.
1) Being flexible. In the past, I would've check-marked off EACH and EVERY SINGLE work-out in the training plan to make sure that I was the most prepared I could've ever been. Now that it's me and C training together, (she for the Breastmilk Consumption Marathon), I've learned that on nights like tonight, after almost 3 long consecutive sleepless night, to try an even CONSIDER banging out that tempo 3 miles would be more detrimental than sitting on my ass eating beef roast and potatoes and taking a nap. The work-out can wait until tomorrow. And as for "Morning or evening exerciser"?Yeah, now I just get my work-outs whenever the hell I can!
2) Pump! Yes, pump. Or make sure that I time my work-out slot close enough to C's next meal so that way my boobs aren't spraying during the work-out. Learned that one the hard way...
3) Pee right before you start, and then pee again for good measure. C's delivery has since destroyed my pelvic floor muscles. And if you read my previous entries then you are more than aware of how I learned this lesson.
4) If all else fails, text my mother-in-law, chug some Diet Coke and suck it up. There have been more of these kinds of days than I could ever count. And this requires no explanation. Sometimes, the work-out just needs to get done. If not for fitness, but even for my own sanity.
5) Even though training for ANY event right now is 100x's more complicated than ever, the complexities, the logistics, and of course the relief of being able to go be "me" for an hour trumps any fatigue or difficulty. This is my lifestyle, and while it is a little, (okay, A LOT!) harder to maintain this part of me, I don't allow myself to feel guilty that I'm taking time for myself. It's a relief to get to walk away from the endless diapers, bathtimes, Zantac and Mylicon doses that never seem to stay down, the lack of sleep and socialization, and all the extras that come with being a new mom. That hour is my time, and that makes me a better mom.
Someday, when C is walking, talking and much more independent, I'm going to look back on all this and remember wistfully her chubby little cheeks, her smiling at me during nursing, her satisfied little smacking as she sucks greedily, and the colic, the crying, the exhaustion, the tears of my own frustration and sadness that I can't make it better will all be gone. Already I'm struggling with the fact that she's growing out of all her little baby clothes so fast. Training helps me cope, and helps me appreciate all the beauty of being C's mommy. And training lets me win her pretty medals that I take her picture wearing to place on the display that will hold all my race bibs and medals that I won running during my pregnancy and her first year.
Training for any event before having a baby is difficult in and of itself. But when you add motherhood and all the challenges and lack of sleep on top of that, you truly find out what you're made of.