Postpartum Part #2: The Fire isn’t out yet
This blog was written by rabbitPRO Lauren Totten, an accomplished 2:33 marathoner. Lauren and her husband Seth Totten, a fellow rabbitPRO athlete had their first child in January of 2020. Lauren shares her experience of the return back to competitive running postpartum. We are so excited to continue to follow Lauren's incredible journey.
My alarm would go off, and I would mosey upstairs, make coffee & toast, then enjoy breakfast, reading my Bible, and journaling. Even being an early riser, mornings would start slowly. Following breakfast, I would take my time to foam roll and do activation exercises. When I lived and trained in Mammoth Lakes, my professional team would meet at 8:00am. Following our run or workout, often I would swing by the local coffee shop to grab breakfast and sit outside, or head home to foam roll and stretch and cook. The morning would fly by and soon it would be time for lunch and a nap. Napping has never been my favorite thing, but I did it to become the best athlete and marathoner I could become. Once afternoon came, I would lace up my shoes again for a shuffle around town, running another 4 to 6 miles. I would come home, foam roll and stretch again or do a gym session with my team, then make dinner and go to bed early. I slept 10-11 hours a night. Most days looked the same, except for Sundays, which were our long run day. When I lived and trained in Mammoth Lakes, preparing for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, I logged 90-120 mile weeks at 8000 feet. Tiredness was something I embraced, but I also thrived training at altitude. It’s still something I miss.
Seth and I got married in 2017 and moved to Santa Barbara, CA. We met the second day I moved to Mammoth Lakes, CA, and he won my heart pretty quickly. As we grew in our marriage, we also wanted to start a family. Born January 7, 2020, 9 days early and under 6 lbs. of cuteness, Lachlan joined our little family and grew it to three. Running came back naturally since I was cleared to run at 5 weeks and ran up until the day I gave birth. However, just as I anticipated, it has had it’s share of ups and downs. Motherhood has brought a lot of joy, but also a lot of shifts in my priorities. I still get up early, but now at 5am with our early riser. Lachlan loves to sleep, but sleeping in is not his greatest trait. He’s like his mom; he wants to get outside and start the day. Most mornings include a very early 6:15am walk. Seth and I typically trade off runs. It’s important to me that I nurse Lachlan first thing in the morning. I’ve always wanted to be at home when he wakes, so scooting out the door for an early workout never happens before he is up. Thankfully, with the support of Seth, I can feed Lachlan and then leave for a workout after. Lachlan joins us on family runs, as well as me when I have him in the morning. He does great in the KidRunner or Thule, but it’s also more tiring for mom and dad to push or pull a growing little boy! We try to balance out family runs, one-on-one runs with Lachlan, and runs on our own.
Much different from living in Mammoth, each day looks different. My running often lines up with Lachlan’s sleeping. Often, I choose to rest or take it easy after a night of not-enough-sleep, because, as a mom, getting sleep is also important to my mental and physical health. I’ve learned to set small goals like running 5-6 days a week or get in one workout and one long run. These days, it’s an accomplishment to run 50 miles a week. It hasn’t felt right yet to push beyond that. Still, I am seeing my fitness come back in a healthy way for me, and that has been encouraging. Running has become something I do not just to become a faster marathoner, but also to be the best mom and wife I can be. Running is a part of who I am, not just something I do. So, if it ebs and flows and looks different on a daily basis, that feels really healthy for me, even if it’s not always the linear progress I would love to see. Becoming a mom has been such a refining process. Running has helped my mental health as a new mom and recovering postpartum. I’ve found a lot of joy in discovering running in a new sense and enjoying exploring with my son or meeting up with friends when we can collaborate our schedules.
Recovery also looks very different. I do the best I can to stay healthy and stay on top of nutrition for nursing. But, foam rolling and activation stretching doesn’t happen as often as I would like. Most times, if I don’t run with Lachlan, it’s a mad rush to shower and drink a smoothie before he is up from his morning nap. Then, we might go for a 3-4 mile walk around our bike paths, read books in the living room, or play. Kicking my feet up really doesn’t happen until I finally get in bed. But, I have found so much joy in spending my days watching him grow. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world to have the life I have with Lachlan and Seth. 2020 has been the best year of my life: I became a mom. In a hard year for so many, I feel really overwhelmed with gratitude. In fact, having a fuller life has been so incredibly fulfilling in so many ways. Lachlan provides us so much happy and joy.
I will be honest: I can’t wait until Lachlan can watch his mom and dad compete in a race with spectators and fans, where he can see our hard work put into fruition, but until then, we are chipping away. I met with our local elite group, where we currently live near Sacramento, CA, just the other day for the first time, and it was pretty great to do a workout again and run faster than I have in almost 2 years. I felt a little bit of the fire come back that has slowed a little bit, but the flame isn’t out. I am still convinced, as a mom, that racing will be more special than ever, and when I get on the race line once again, I will have so much more in my back pocket. I can’t wait to show Lachlan who is mom is an athlete, who works hard and is resilient and brave, all the things I want him to see he has in him too.
In fact, I think motherhood has been the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
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