I am 8 weeks post unplanned c section. I got the all clear at 6 weeks to work out and even start running. I was very active during my pregnancy doing HITT work outs, swimming and yoga (all with modifications). Then during my 6 weeks after surgery I was able to walk a lot, thanks to living in an amazing city. I got up to walking 90 minute stretches by the end. I’ve worked my way up to running 3-3.5 miles these past two weeks but they are slow (11 minute mile pace) and I’m holding steady there. I run about 3 times a week. Any advice on adding more miles and going a bit faster. I’m trying not to be in a rush but would love advice on a running plan and what realistically makes sense. Running right now is my chance to get out of the house by myself and have a bit of freedom. 



Returning back to running after some time off, regardless of the reason, can always feel challenging and I’ve been there a few times myself so I know how frustrating it can be when you are not running even close to the distance or speed that you were once accustomed to. Some coaches may prescribe you distances and paces to follow to get you back on track but I’m really not a numbers girl, which has never prevented me from being successful, so I’m going to tell you what has worked for me.  

For the next 6 weeks I just want you to run, and each time you go out I want you to try and run a little bit further, even if it is just to the next street light or corner. Keep your watch at home and simply tell yourself you are going to run from point A to B and then do it. If you need to walk, take a break and walk, just as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Have a goal where in 6 weeks you will be running a certain distance and then once you reach that distance you can start working on running it faster. I want you to do this because you need to build your aerobic capacity back up to where it was before you stopped running. If you skip that step you will have a much more difficult time getting back to where you were.

So how do you start to run faster once you hit your goal? Start running faster! At this point running 3 or 4 days a week at the same speed and for the same distance will get boring really fast. Instead, keep one longer and slower weekly run, continuing to add to the distance each week (no more than 10% a week), and then take your other 2 or 3 weekly runs and start to play around with them.

Have one be a bit shorter and push yourself harder on the run. An easy way to do that is give yourself a slow warm up and cool down and for the middle of the run pick your pace up. A good way to monitor how fast and far you are running is with a running app (like Strava or the Nike Run Club) or use a GPS watch.

Another run should be an interval session. Go to a track or somewhere that you can run the same distance with the same elevation (maybe a set route around a city block) and work on running each lap faster, with some recovery in it. Play around with what you do but here are some examples to help you start.  

Track Workout 
Holding the same pace for each interval (which should be at a pace that feels easy to start then by the end it is hard work to maintain) run 200m, 400m, 600m, 800m, 1000m, 800m, 600m, 400m, 200m. However long it takes you to run each interval allow for half of that time to recover (by walking or jogging slowly).

Neighbourhood Workout
This is a favourite go to workout of mine. Start with a 10 minute warmup then run 5 minutes easy, 5 minutes at 70% effort, 4 minutes easy, 4 minutes at 75% effort, 3 minutes easy, 3 minutes at 80%, 2 minutes easy, 2 minutes at 85% effort, 1 minute easy, and 1 minute at 90%. You can do this 1 time through or if you’re up to it, work up to doing it twice through.

You can also do both of these workouts on a treadmill.

Another tip is the days where your runs are shorter you can add in some HIIT after the workout. I love doing tabata style workouts at the park when I finish a hard run. Try picking 5 exercises (i.e. - squats, pushups, jumping lunges, mountain climbers, and burpees) and do 8 sets of 20 seconds of each exercise with a 10 second break. Or, when you are at the gym doing your HIIT sessions, add in 3-5 minute speed sessions on the treadmill. 

This may seem like a lot of information to take in so I’ll sum it up for you. Start working towards increasing how far you run, until you are back running close to the distance you were pre-pregnancy. No time goals and no expectations. Just get the distance in. Once you reach that goal, start pushing the speed. Hard short runs and intervals are key. And enjoy the journey of getting back to the runner you once were!