Hey everyone! Thought it might be fun for all of you to see just how the heck Aliphine came back from pregnancy and got herself ready for a marathon in seven months. And who knows? Maybe there’s a mom or two out there that can glean a couple of helpful nuggets. Disclaimer; every single pregnancy is different and there is no one template for returning to training postpartum.
First, we have to go back to Aliphine’s pregnancy. All things considered it was fairly smooth. She trained pretty normally (normal for a world class athlete I mean) through July of 2020. In fact, she did a number of workouts that month with the team and was hanging with the likes of Steph Bruce and Kellyn Taylor (pretty fast company). On August 1 she ran a 20-miler on “A1” here in Flagstaff, known for its hilly terrain. She crushed it, averaging 6:33 for the entire loop, baby bump and all. I don’t know if it was that particular run but a couple weeks later she felt a little something in her SI joint and we took that as a sign that it was time to shut it down. She took two full weeks off and when she resumed running in September we never did another hard workout the rest of the way–only easy running.
Fortunately, and this isn’t always the case, she was able to run all the way through just about to the end of her pregnancy. Not every day of course. It was really about listening to the body and if it didn’t feel like running then she didn’t run, and vice versa. And the limit for how far she could go got lower and lower as the weeks passed by. Her final run before giving birth was a 3-mile jog on January 4. Aliphine gave birth to Baby Zoe on January 13.
The next eight weeks were all about rehab. No running at all. She worked with pelvic floor specialist Sara Tanza on what seemed like a million exercises designed to help her heal and strengthen her pelvic region for what was to come. She didn’t run seven straight days until the end of March/beginning of April–a 59 mile week in total. Her first workout wasn’t until April 20 and it was simply 10 x 300 meters at 6:00 mile pace. That’s crazy to think about now, seeing as she just ran 15 straight miles at 5:41 pace at 7,000 feet this past Saturday.
Her weekly mileage remained in the 50s and 60s until mid May when she finally broke the 70 barrier. On June 6th, after several weeks of workouts that slowly built up to this, Aliphine ran a 10-mile steady state on the dirt path at Buffalo Park in Flagstaff and averaged 5:59 per mile. That was probably the first session that was approaching the level that would be necessary to compete in Sapporo. We were nine weeks out.
In mid-June we finally started doing more of our hard efforts on pavement to prepare for the pounding of a road marathon. Until then, not all but many of her hard workouts were run on dirt to save her joints which of course were not yet fully healed from labor. They’re still not really. I can’t stress enough that this is a really long process and athletes and coaches have to be patient with it. I sure hope we were. I suppose we’ll find out next Saturday.
On July 4, Aliphine competed in the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, a city that is home to so many great memories for us. I thought she did great, running 32:44 and finishing in sixth place. She was pumped too. She didn’t really think she was going to break 33 minutes. So we were in a good spot five weeks out. The next three weeks would be the big ones. That was always the plan. Get to the Fourth healthy and try to put one really good block together in July.
That block has gone just about as good as we could have ever hoped. Shout out to Allie’s USA teammate Molly Seidel who we partnered up with for sessions on July 7 (15 x 1k) and July 14 (5 x 2 miles). Molly was awesome and was every bit a teammate, encouraging Allie to stay right on her heels during the toughest parts of the workouts. Look out for Molly in Sapporo. She’s in killer shape.
The weekend long runs were what we geared up most for though. On successive Saturdays, Aliphine ran the 10/10 (10 miles moderate, 10 miles at marathon effort), the 26 with a 6-mile push (26 miles running marathon effort from miles 18-24), and the 15-mile Steady State (video at the top of the newsletter). Aliphine nailed every one of these sessions and each one was more impressive than the last. By nailed though, I mean she hit them as prescribed. They weren’t at the same paces she was running before Atlanta in 2020 but not too far off.
So here we are. Aliphine headed off to Japan this morning, with her fiancé Tim and Baby Zoe in tow. She’s happy. She’s fit. She’s ready. Let’s do this!
Hope you enjoyed reading all of that as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am in awe of what Aliphine has done to get here, and I am going to be proud of her no matter what happens in Sapporo. Also- a huge thanks to AJ Gregg, Allie’s strength & conditioning coach/chiropractor (pictured above). He’s been vital in keeping Aliphine healthy and strong. Thanks also to Monica Coplea, her massage therapist, and Shannon Thompson–our team’s mental performance specialist. Thanks to all of our sponsors as well as Aliphine’s individual sponsors. I am not supposed to list them but you guys know. Finally, thanks to Aliphine’s teammates on HOKA NAZ Elite. We said before 2020 began that if one of us makes it we all make it and it sure feels that way. I know they’ll be glued to the screen on August 6, screaming for Aliphine as loud as I’ll be on the streets of Sapporo.
GO ALLIE T!!!!
– Coach Ben
Photo above courtesy of Elliott Portillo