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Athlete Moms: The Top Ten Things I've Learned...10 Weeks In

Baby Nell at 10 Weeks10 weeks after having a baby and things are rocking and rolling...It's definitely not easy, but we're inching back to some sort of normalcy around here, and I'm close to hitting my stride, so to speak, with a running routine. As I reflect on the past 10 weeks, here are 10 lessons I've picked up along the comeback trail. --Sarah

1.Pace Isn't Essential

Sooner than later (I hope), I'll go back to basing all of my workouts on time, but right now, I'm just plain running. The most important thing is that I'm out there doing it...not how fast I'm going.

2. ...And Neither is the Garmin.

That means that I've halted the search for my Garmin, which I misplaced during our move. There was a point when I couldn't fathom stepping foot out the door without that behemoth strapped to my wrist. Now? I just start up my Nike Running app so I can at least know how far I've gone. The Garmin and I will reunite some day...

3. Have a Little Fun.

When I'm in heavy training mode, I tend to just run, run, run, without allotting any time for “fun” ways of working out, like classes or even the elliptical. In the past month or so, I've joined a bootcamp class and bounced around on different cardio machines. It's fun to mix it up as I ease back into a routine, and it's the best way (for me) to avoid the inevitable boredom.

4. Find a Friend.

It's amazing what the commitment of a running date can do to your motivation. Since connecting with my new running buddy, Becky, I've not only started three out of the last four Saturdays with an 8 a.m. date, but I've also logged my longest run since last May...10.5 miles. Definitely would not have done either without her.

5. Get Things on the Calendar.

I figure once I finish the half-marathon next month, I'll be eager to keep up the whole racing thing. So I'm hoping to continue to momentum by joining other events this summer. I've already registered for a mud run in July (Lord help me!) and am now seeking some 5Ks and 10Ks. I may not be setting any records, but at least I can keep chiseling away at my post-baby PRs.

6. Get Away.

Back to my dates with Becky, what's so lovely about them isn't just that I get to chat with a new friend for over an hour. They also serve as an escape from the hustle-and-bustle mornings around here. Not to say I need to “escape” from my family, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with a little “me” time, either.

7. I'm Not Superwoman.

A few weeks after having Nell, I read a blog by a woman who not only ran a half-marathon six weeks after having a baby, but also PR'd in said race. Immediately I felt like a loser. There I was, barely able to run a mile, and there were women out there RACING with babies younger than mine. In lieu of giving myself a mental beatdown, I reminded myself that yes, while some people possess superhuman strength, I do not. And there's nothing wrong with that. Right?

8. Treat Yourself.

But just because I'm not running marathons minutes after giving birth doesn't mean I don't deserve a treat (or 20) for far-less ambitious accomplishments. I'm talking about a 20-minute jaunt on the elliptical. A 3-mile run. Heck, even managing to take a shower after the gym. All worthy of a glass of wine, a pint of Blue Moon, or an extra topping at the fro-yo place. Whatever makes mama happy!

9. Take a Breather.

And I mean beyond just going outside to get some fresh air. Whether it's sequestering myself in the quiet of the baby's nursery while E & N are running through the house like wild animals or stepping off the treadmill when I'm really not feeling a workout, I've learned to alter my environment whenever I need a minute to myself (or risk going insane). Which is more often than not.

10. Take Care of ME.

Here's a lesson I'm still working on: While trying to work, shushing a fussy baby, putting out toddler fires (not literally!), and trying to maintain some sense of order in this house, I'm totally guilty of ignoring the little things that can be key to maintaining my health as a runner. Like, I pay no attention to my hydration/nutrition for long runs (bad move). I am long overdue a new pair of shoes. And I probably should stretch and foam roll a heck of a lot longer than I'm doing right now. At least I'm aware of these things I'm doing wrong...after all, admission is the first step to recovery. Now let's just see if I can get my act together by, say, 2015...

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