The Casual Runner

I didn’t head into pregnancy in peak physical condition.  I spent the last 9 months before pregnancy as a strictly casual runner.

What, exactly, is the casual runner?  The casual runner enjoys running, but doesn’t train.  Running is done for entertainment purposes – relaxation, socialization, or competition.  Each runner’s casual pace varies, based on their fitness, frequency of casual runs, or just how fast they feel like running.

Dating back to the beginning of 2011, I hesitated to commit to any races or make any long-term training plans.  Because I was totally going to be pregnant immediately (duh) and didn’t want to commit to something I might not be able to honor.

Partway through the year, I realized that it doesn’t make much sense to base one’s plans on something that is clearly uncertain.  But instead of hitting the road or signing up for a fall race, I threw my energy into finishing my MBA as quickly as possible, making actual training impossible.

My 2011 casual pace?  Somewhere in the vicinity of 7:30 miles for a 5K race (for a 23:15 finish) or 9:00 miles for a long run (or roughly 2:00 for a half marathon).

My last race of 2011 was the Kade Meyer Celebration Run on September 24.  I was, in fact, three weeks pregnant (although completely unaware, since that’s not how it works.)  I turned in a very predictable performance of 23:16 for 5K (results here) which serves as a perfect benchmark.

But how will I get there from here? I’m not expecting too much – only to be as fast as I was last year when I wasn’t really running.  Is that too much to ask?

With the burdens and responsibilities of a soon-to-be working mom, I don’t know that my schedule will allow for dedicated training.  The problem with casual running, though, is that it’s difficult-if-not-impossible to get any faster without putting in the work.

I’d love to hear stories of working women who have gotten back into shape in the first year of baby’s life.  How’d you do it?


About stillarunner

I used to run. Some days, I even ran fast. Then I got a job. And met a boy. And bought a house. And rescued a dog. And rescued another dog. And went back to school. And created human life. I might not run every day, or even every week. There’s a good possibility that I will never be fast again. But I’m still a runner.
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3 Responses to The Casual Runner

  1. Louise says:

    Ha, I can really relate to your bio! Well, except for the ‘fast’ bit. I actually ran quite a bit with my husband up until the birth of our son in 2010. Going back has been hard. Not from a physical perspective but from a time perspective. It’s so easy for running to be the first thing to go when you’re pressed for time. I’ve found choosing an event and training for it the best way to lock in time. Then I’m committed and I *have* to train. In hindsight, I would have bought a jogging stroller too. Learn from my mistake!

  2. moonlightsewing says:

    I ran my fastest 1/2 marathon when Sierra was 11 months old. Granted, the race conditions were “stars aligned perfect”: 50 degrees, partly cloudy, super flat course, but still, I dropped 7 minutes from my previous best, clocking a 1:32:32. I haven’t come close to that again, but I did run a 1:37:xx last May.

    Sarah, I did this on 3 running days per week, on the good weeks. Here were the keys to success, I think: 1. I always got my long run in, which I ran by time, not miles. I increased by 5 minutes a week or so until I got to around 2 hours 3 weeks before the race. Jason was really good about making sure I could get that long run in on the weekends. 2. I was lifting weights twice a week, and not much, only about 20-30 minutes, but it was enough. 3. One of my other two running days was something fast like a tempo run or track workout or hill repeats. Sometimes, each of my other two runs in the week were one of those.

    Sometimes, I only ran twice a week (long run + one other run). I didn’t really do a lot of “easy” or recovery miles because I simply didn’t have time. If I was going to actually train, all of my miles had to be quality miles. Recovery days were walks with the baby, usually in a mei tai.

    When Libby gets big enough for a jog stroller, she can go with you on one of your weekly runs. I did a lot faster than normal steady state or tempo runs with a jog stroller. Just make sure you are running by effort and not time because pushing the stroller definitely changes the game. Let me know if I can help in any way.


  3. Pingback: I’d Rather Be Fast Than Skinny | Still A Runner

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