Running Postpartum

Good morning! I hope your week is going well so far. Today I wanted to focus on something particularly relevant to my life right now…running after baby. Keep in mind that I am just sharing my experience and what I have learned as a first time mom.

Let’s back up to 1 year ago. I was training for my first half marathon. I was following a loose plan that was primarily based on Hal Higdon’s half marathon plan. I had made it up to 10 miles and was so close to my goal. Then I found out I was pregnant. After speaking with my OB, we decided that I should be able to continue training as long as I didn’t push myself too hard. Well, fatigue and morning sickness set in quick and it was all I could do to eat, much less run. I decided to put my training on hold until after the baby was born.

Fast forward to January. I had remained active throughout my pregnancy and was given the green light to exercise after my 3 week appointment. I decided to take it slow with weekly yoga classes and some strength training mixed with incline walking. After a few weeks, I decided to give running a go and started really slow. It felt like my insides were going to fall out. So I gave it another week and tried again. This time, my insides felt ok for the most part, but I had a very sharp pain in my stomach. So I waited yet another week. Finally, running started to feel normal again. However, the second I tried to increase my intensity, I got a very sharp pain in my stomach again and ended up having to stop. It was very discouraging. Then I reminded myself that I had just had a baby! Just because some women can jump right back into 30+mile weeks immediately doesn’t mean that I can. Now, 3 months post-partum, running feels good again. I’m not breaking any records here or even going at the same maximum intensity I did before, but I am running again. I know with time, I will be back to my pre-baby fitness level and maybe even have some PRs (here’s hoping!).

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Through my experience, I have learned some things about running after having a baby. I thought I would share what I learned with you.

Recover first and then start slow

Let’s not forget that you just brought a human into the world. You deserve some time to rest and recover from this very physically demanding event. When you are given the go ahead by your doctor, don’t start at maximal intensity. Take some time to build back up. Even if you remained active or ran your entire pregnancy, you need to keep in mind what your body just went through. I mean, if you had just run a marathon, clearly you would be capable of running right after, but don’t you think you would deserve some rest and recovery? Maybe you don’t, but I definitely do!

Make a Plan

If you have children then you understand that time is precious. Having a schedule helps you know how much time you need for any given day/run. It also helps you to stay on track with your fitness goals. Going into a run blind (i.e. no goal in mind) can lead to a frustrating experience. I’m not saying you have to have exact details planned out but at least know approximately how long/far you want to go and what speed you hope to maintain. Sometimes these things really don’t matter and once you start they kind of just get figured out along the way. Most of the time though, a plan is helpful.

Throw away the guilt

I am notorious for not taking any “me-time” because I feel guilty if I’m not in mom mode 24/7. Recently, I found that I am a much better parent (and spouse) after I have taken some time to do something I enjoy (a.k.a. running/working out). I am less stressed, more patient and oddly enough, more energized. Taking that hour allows me to rejuvenate and to be a much better mom in the long run.

Questions:

Mom runners, what are some things you learned when you started running again?

Does anyone else feel guilty after taking some time for yourself?

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