What am I currently training for? Well, actually nothing right now!
I only have one race close on the horizon and that’s the Romsey 5 Mile Beer race which I love. Due to COVID, of course, it hasn’t been on for the past two years so I’m excited to do it again. It’s always a fun day.
But other than that I only have the New Forest Marathon planned for September and then the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December. There aren’t really any marathons nearby that I want to do and to be honest it’s probably a good thing to let me body rest for a bit. Obviously I’ll still be running but the long runs won’t be as long.
Running at the moment is just a way for me to refresh myself. Sleep has been tough going with an ill Isaac (all the nursery bugs…) and it’s been a little bit stressful. Running is my constant though and it helps energise me, chill me out and just blow out any bad moods. So it’s not so much training for any race but rather getting through harder times!
And I love that about running. It isn’t just exercise or trying to get PB’s. It’s just a significant part of my life that helps me be a better human, helps me feel better and keeps me sane.
My current week looks something like this: running Tuesdays and Thursdays (nursery commutes), parkrun on a Saturday and then a long run on Sunday, but probably nothing more than 15 miles. I also try to squeeze in two strength sessions a week and keep Mondays as a day of rest because it’s my day with Isaac.
Recently I got sent some adidas clothes which are both perfect for summer training and also summer resting! I’m a BIG fan of leisurewear and to be honest would wear leggings every day if I could. And a hoodie, you cannot beat a hoodie for relaxing round the house in or popping to the shop in the evening when it’s cooler.
Tho it’s a dangerous colour when you have both a dog and a baby, I love the cream of this hoodie. I normally go for darker colours but as it’s summer I thought I’d branch out to be a bit brighter. Yes it’s summer but you can’t guarantee constant warm weather in the UK!
The hoodie is so soft and slightly oversized, which I love. Perfect for slouching around the house in or throwing on at the end of parkrun when it’s a bit nippy but you don’t want to bring a coat.
I also LOVE these leggings (Loungewear essentials high-waisted logo leggings in Black / Gold Metallic). They’re more loungewear leggings than running leggings but definitely good for the gym. They’re very flattering, don’t slip down and are nicely high-waisted. They’re thick enough to not be see-through as well when you bend over or squat. An essential requirement for leggings!
One thing I’ve been in big need of was another good fitting sports bra. Since having Isaac and breastfeeding my boobs are a lot bigger than they used to be. I never used to have to worry too much about high support while running or HIIT during workouts but now it’s definitely something I have to be wary of.
This sports bra has good support for running and jumping. I feel nice and secure and get no back pain or discomfort. It holds everything down 😉 I like the white colour as well as I only have black heavy support sports bra at the moment but I have a lot of lighter tops. So it blends in perfectly.
I like the cross back as well. It’s a really nice design.
I also have a new summer running top which is super light-weight and airy. Perfect for those hotter runs!
I really like the colour as well (Rose Tone / White). Again normally I veer towards blacks and greys a lot of the time, so it’s a nice change to have a bit more colour in my running wardrobe.
Like I’ve said before, I really do love adidas and their sports clothing. Always good quality and lasts a long time. I’d rather pay a bit more money for items that last years then buy cheaper for things to stretch or rip soon after.
I’m still enjoying being back and I’m getting used to the balance of being a mum and being an employee. I do feel immense amount of guilt when I say this, but I’m really enjoying being back at work and getting that breather from Isaac.
I say “breather” but this doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or constantly wonder what he’s doing, hoping he’s OK and not distressed or unhappy. Of course he’s in good hands and probably hasn’t given me a second thought after he leaves me! But I still worry.
That said, I’m enjoying eating my lunch without rushing or while trying to juggle watching him at the same time. I’m enjoying going for lunchtime walks with Kyle without the pram or carrier and not worry if Isaac isn’t napping or if he’s too hot or too cold.
We’ve been getting into a good routine of what our mornings and week in general look like. I’m enjoying running to nursery on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick him up. It does feel weird though not running in the morning in the week anymore, but I like that I’m killing two birds with one stone. And the time difference with driving to pick him up is minimal. So it makes a lot of sense.
What’s hard at the moment is sleep. We were doing quite well with “just” two wake ups a night (pre-baby Anna would laugh at such a statement as that still doesn’t sound the dream but compared to previously it is). However, for whatever reason, Isaac is now waking up 3+ times a night. It usually goes something like 11.30pm wake up, then 2-3am wake up, then the hellish time of 3-6am when multiple wakeups seem to be happening.
We think it could be because Isaac has picked up a rather persistent cold which has made him very snotty (lovely I know) and then blocks his nose. He’s never had a cold (or even ever been ill) but after going to nursery for the first time he’s picked one up straight away. Standard.
Or potentially it could be his 8th tooth coming (the 7th was a nightmare as well and it’s in the mirror image position). BUT WHO KNOWS. Babies are enigmas and trying to solve them is a headache.
We’ve tried Calpol, baby Nurofen, a nasal spray, cough syrup, Anbesol, raising his mattress higher where his head is… and even tried disposable night nappies in case it was something about the reusable ones that wasn’t working in the night.
But nothing seems to have worked. This leads me to believe it could be a regression (or a “progression”) where Isaac has learnt some new skills and his brain is just processing so much at night.
It’s hard because during maternity leave I had no rush to get up in the morning – of course I was guided by Isaac. I couldn’t lie in if Isaac was awake but equally if we’d had a bad night he would probably sleep a bit later and that wouldn’t be an issue. But now we have childcare for him to get to and of course work. And work itself is so much harder if you haven’t had a good night sleep, obviously.
So this is our problem at the moment. Isaac is almost 10 months and I honestly (stupidly? Naively?) believed we’d have sleep kind of sorted by now. But noooope. Of course though I’m not alone. Kyle is always there to help. Yes I’m still breastfeeding so there are limits to what Kyle can do during the night, but just having someone there to chat to, or someone to help me the next day is so crucially. We’re a team and we’re in this together. That hugely helps. Even just someone to moan with!
The lead-up to the Southampton Marathon was far from ideal.
We’d had a week of poor sleep as poor Isaac had gotten a cold from nursery and I therefore now had a cold too.
I can’t believe how quickly Isaac became ill after literally his first couple of days in nursery! I had been warned that illnesses would crop up quickly after he’d start but I didn’t realise it would literally be the day after. Poor little man was so snotty and had such a cough. We tested negative for COVID so that was good!
We’ve also recently stopped Isaac going to the Nana’s each week overnight. We made this decision because what with him going to nursery twice a week and then seeing both Nanas on the other two days, it felt like our Isaac time had diminished so much. As much as I loved having that night of sleep and lie-in the next day, it felt wrong him going away somewhere else again in the week.
So this all entailed me not feeling particularly fresh. But I had no time goals or great expectations for the marathon so I thought I might as well see what happens.
Kyle drove Isaac and I to Southampton while I ate my three pieces of toast.
We parked and walked over to the race village where we met Kyle’s mum, his sister, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend – the support crew! My parents were sadly suffering from a sickness bug so couldn’t come.
After a quick wee, I headed to the start. It was a bit nippy and windy but otherwise a lovely sunny morning.
It felt very odd to be in such proximity with so many people and someone joked had COVID even happened. This is the first time I’ve been in such a crowd – the other races I’ve done haven’t been quite as busy or packed at the start.
And then we were off! It felt really exciting and I couldn’t help but have a big grin on my face. The crowds of supporters really upped the atmosphere and I felt so buzzed. I let the bustle of runners carry me along and the first mile flew by in a blur. There were loads of people around me and I just remember thinking how much I love a big race, especially a big marathon.
Then we got to Itchen Bridge, the first of the major hills. It’s such a long grind up that bridge but the support along it was great. The wind was against us as well so it was hard going. I decided to take my mind off it by simply counting to 100. Amazingly this really worked! As I got to 100 I’d reached the top and was then heading back down, which was obviously far easier.
From Itchen Bridge you do a little loop down by the water and I saw some of my running club friends which was lovely. And then it was back towards Itchen Bridge again for the 2nd of the four times I’d have to run over it. I counted again as I ran over it and it worked nicely once more.
As I ran down the other side I spotted my lovely supporters and they gave me a big cheer which boosted me along. As I continued on, I knew my next major milestone would be the football stadium so I looked forward to that.
Running through the stadium was fun. It was spongy underfoot as they’d put some kind of turf down to protect the ground and I felt very springy as I ran across. My pace was still quite consistent and I felt pretty good.
Then we were off towards Bitterne. I remembered parts of this from the two times I’d run the half but knew that the route had changed a little. In the back of my mind I was praying that the big hill around mile 11 wouldn’t be there…
We ran along the river and again it was just so lovely how many people were out supporting. Loads of people giving out Jelly Babies, water and even offering to spray you with a hose as we passed houses.
I didn’t feel too hot at this point but I’d started to take on more water. A few sips here and there at each aid station. The drinks were these weird plastic bag things that required a bit of navigation to get to work and you were in danger of being aggressively squirted if you weren’t careful!
Sadly there were more hills to come even before the potential mile 11 hill. As we climbed a particularly long incline I heard a pacer say that there was only one more hill after this one. Ah OK then yes mile 11 hill was likely still to come!
The hills on the course were quite tough, I won’t lie. And mile 11 was no different. I just used my counting technique which helped. It also helped not really minding too much about pace. I would of course slow down going up the hill but I found I made it up on the downhill so it all evened out.
As we got nearer and nearer towards the finish, running along part of the Southampton parkrun, the crowds were getting more excited. They were yelling at us that we were almost there and not long now. Of course this was true for the half marthoners, but not for the marathoners! We still had to do this all again.
A slightly depressing part of the course was that the marathoners had to run literally down the finish line and then right before we went over the line we turned left to go again for another lap. It was a little bit frustrating!
Now we were on to the second lap and I knew exactly what was to come. I quite like this about a two lapper. The first lap is all about taking it all in, and the second lap you’re just ticking off the sights you’ve seen before.
But now the course was far more empty. No more half marathoners crowding the field. The supporters were few and far between now as the bulk of the race was over. It suddenly became a little bit like a ghost town at times.
I saw Kyle and Co. again which was lovely and they peppered me on nicely.
What was nice though was that the supporters and marshals that were there all cheered you on pretty much individually. I got a lot of “Go Anna!” which was really nice and encouraging.
Itchen Bridge the 3rd and 4th time came and went, though a lot harder this time. No longer did my count to 100 get me up the hill, it was more like 160. And now there was limited shade from the wind as the field was so empty.
But do you know what? I was still having a great time. I was far more hot now and each time I went past a water station I grabbed a water and kept it with me so I could sip as I went. I definitely needed it now! I was also so pleased I’d worn my sunglasses.
I got to mile 18 and remember distinctly thinking “ahh I love marathons”. I know that might sound a bit twee but honestly I do love them. Yes they’re so hard, long and boring at times but I was just in my little zone ticking off the miles enjoying myself. I had my headphones with me to listen to some music but I didn’t actually fancy it at all. I was quite happy with my own thoughts and the sounds from outside.
As I got to around three miles to go I decided to push on a little bit harder. I actually caught up with a guy I’ve known for a while and we swapped hellos. Then we just sorted of stayed in step with each other.
We didn’t chat – we were both too tired and in our own little worlds. But when he edged further on I pushed myself to keep up, and likewise for him. So in the end I we were really pushing the pace to the end. Far quicker than I think I would have had I been on my own that’s for certain!
The finish line sprint was amazing. The crowds were really thick here (including my family) and everyone was bashing on the barriers and cheering so the atmosphere was electric and ridiculously loud.
I properly sprinted to the end – faster than I’ve probably done for the majority of my marathons! But I was loving it.
My time was 3:30:08, which I am SO pleased about considering I had no time goals in mind. It was a lot faster than I’d intended.
Am I sad I didn’t dip under 3:30? Of course 😉 But no, seriously, I’m so happy and honestly don’t think I could have given anymore in that sprint.
Then I met up with my family and enjoyed a lovely roast dinner later in the day.
I am honestly so happy with how the Southampton Marathon went and really only have happy memories from the day. I just ran at such a consistent pace and never felt like I was over-reaching (until perhaps the last couple of miles which were definitely a hard push!). it just further reminded me of how much I love a pressure-free marathon.
In short, hilly, hot, windy but thoroughly enjoyable!
And just like that my maternity leave is over. Just over 9 months of being away from work and looking after the little man – it’s gone so quickly!
We’re very fortunate that I’m only going back four days a week and Isaac is only going to nursery for two days. The other two days he’ll be with the Nanas (Wednesdays with my mum and Fridays with Kyle’s). Having help from our family is obviously massively beneficial to us financially because it literally has halved our childcare costs.
Childcare in the UK is quite an expensive thing and I know a lot of mothers can’t afford to even go back to work because the cost of childcare is more than their salary. So yes, we are very very lucky.
It also means Isaac gets to spend time with two people he really loves and feels safe with. I can also easily check in throughout the day to find out how he is and what he’s up to, which is lovely. Both Nanas adore spending time with him and I know they’ve really been looking forward to this time.
Nursery will also be good for him because it will challenge him in a new environment with new faces. The nursery staff will help develop him in ways I wouldn’t have had a clue about. He’ll become more confident and learn what it’s like to be around other babies.
I have mixed feelings about going back to work and childcare, as I’m sure all parents do. I’m going to miss seeing him so much. I’ve literally gone from 24/7 to four days only seeing him in the morning and the evening. It’s a hard adjustment.
At the same time, it’s good for me too. I get some mental and physical space and can focus on things I haven’t been able to while looking after the little man. Working will be a lovely time for me to use my brain and no longer be Anna the Mum. My days with Isaac were solely focused on him and housework so now I get a bit of a breather.
I can eat lunch without rushing or multi-tasking. I can go for a walk without the pram. I can write my blog. It feels very odd. Like something is missing or I keep forgetting something.
Mondays will still be the same as before, which will be nice. I’ll be spending the day with Isaac looking after him. I’m glad I still get this day as just having the weekends feels so hard.
In terms of running, the plan is that Kyle will drop Isaac off to nursery in the morning and then I’ll pick him up later. As the nursery is only 3 miles away we’re planning on using the running buggy to commute him there and back.
Kyle will run him down, leave the buggy there, then run back. Then in the afternoon I’ll run down, pop Isaac in the buggy then run him back. That’s the plan! Who knows how well this will work, we shall see. Also, I’m hoping Isaac will get a cheeky nap in the running buggy on the way back as it’ll be about 25 minutes. That’ll be ideal!
So that’s that’s the current state of play. I’m sure they’ll be lots more change and shifting things about but so far this is the plan. I really hope Isaac thrives going forward and that he’s happy. It’ll be a big change for us all, but mostly for him. So fingers crossed…
I actually cannot believe I have an eight-month-old. And that eight months ago I gave birth. Time has flown so quickly.
What I also can’t believe, and I want to stress that I know I’m very lucky and I’m so grateful, is that my return to running and fitness in general has been so smooth and, dare I say, easy. I use the word “easy” here in terms of experiencing no issues, rather than effort level. There was a lot of effort in getting back to it, as with any comeback.
I took it slow though. I didn’t return to any fitness beyond pelvic floor exercises until six weeks and I didn’t return to running until 12 weeks, after I’d seen a women’s physio for a Mummy MOT. The Mummy MOT was fantastic. She tested my pelvic floor (yes this did involve her examining me while I did the exercises – so it was rather, er, intimate) and doing different body movements. From there she gave me homework of what to improve upon. I cannot recommend having a Mummy MOT enough, runner or not. It’s so beneficial. She taught me how to really tune in to my body and ensured I was doing all the exercises correctly.
I won’t lie, my pelvic floor was definitely weakened from being pregnant and giving birth but doing the exercises literally three times a day massively helped. I felt weak during my first few runs. And when I say I felt “weak” it was like towards the end of the runs I’d feel like I’d need to have a wee, or that I could lose control potentially (thankfully this never actually happened). But like with any training plan, I got stronger and stronger until now I feel back to normal.
I took my comeback slowly. Building the miles gradually. I didn’t attempt any sort of speedier runs at all in the beginning, because that really tested things and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant feeling. However as I got fitter I naturally got faster and my body got stronger and stronger. Now I can comfortably sprint, jump and skip without any risk.
My advice to anyone would be DO THE EXERCISES. I had a reminder three times a day on my phone and basically did the pelvic floor exercises when I was feeding Isaac as I was sat down without much else to do. They take like 5 minutes in total. And don’t push yourself too much too quickly with coming back to “proper” exercises. Take your time. There’s no rush.
My running is back to how it was pre-pregnancy. And if anything, I feel stronger and fitter. I’ve run two marathons since Isaac was born and while I don’t necessarily recommend this as a comeback strategy, for me it’s exactly what I wanted. I love marathons and getting back into marathon training, something I truly enjoy, was exactly the right motivation and drive I needed. I had a focus, I had a rough plan and I had an end goal to reach.
Now I’m regularly running long runs every week, knocking out some faster parkrun times, hitting strength PB’s with my personal training and just feeling good. I could do with some more sleep (as every parent agrees I’m sure) but honestly I’m really enjoying where my fitness is currently. I mean, of course, this is when I’ll get injured but… fingers crossed!!
This isn’t a post to brag about how great I am, but it’s a reminder that pregnancy and having a baby doesn’t mean the end to the things you love. It just takes patience, perseverance, the right advice from educated specialists, and a lot of privilege of course. My situation is that I have a lot of support and patience from loved ones (especially Kyle) who understand my love for running and help me reach my goals. I mean, they adore Isaac so it isn’t too much of a hassle for them 😉
Anyway I was recently sent some incredible kit from adidas as part of their Blogger Community and let me tell you, having some awesome workout gear to wear is another thing that massively motivates me to exercise. There’s nothing better than exercising while feeling confident in clothes that are both flattering and comfortable. adidas for me is one of my absolute favourite brands and they always deliver the quality.
I received a mix of gym clothes and running clothes. For running, I was glad to have tank tops as well as a light weight long sleeve top (the Parley Adizero Long Sleeved Running Tee) – perfect for this transitional period of winter temperatures to spring-like mornings.
It’s slim fitting and really airy so keeps you feeling cool as the run goes on. I also love that it’s made with yarn containing plastic waste (40% in total). What with climate change and excessive plastic consumption, I love brands that are putting in an effort to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable.
To pair with this, I have the Fast Running Shorts which I adore. They’re also made with recycled content so that’s another tick for me. And they have a pocket! Perfect for your parkrun barcode, keys or a gel. They’re quite short but they have inner briefs and they’re really comfortable and don’t ride up – an absolute essential for shorts.
And obviously as a legging loving, I’m so pleased with the lovely green pair of Optime Training 7/8 legggings. They’re super flattering and squat proof (a must!). And again, made from recycled materials. I really like these leggings as they’re high-waisted and give such a nice silhouette.
To pair with the leggings the Badge of Sport Tank Top is perfect for gym and home workout sessions. But I know I’ll also be wearing this when it gets warmer for running. It’s really light-weight and moisture wicking so you know it won’t get heavy or uncomfortable when you start working hard.
I really love the pieces I got and can’t wait for the weather to get warmer to wear the sleeveless tops outside – get that tan going again! Especially the tank top (Parley Adizero Run Tank) version of the Parley Adizero Long Sleeved Running Tee. And I have to say I really love that adidas is doing more recycled materials range. The quality isn’t compromised, which really shows that companies can be making more headway in this direction.
**Full disclaimer: I was sent the adidas products for free in exchange for a blog post. All opinions are my own honest ones.**