Staying active throughout my pregnancy was incredibly important to me. I didn’t have any real expectations to run throughout my entire pregnancy but I ended up feeling well enough to right up until the day before my c-section which was a wonderful surprise. I definitely attribute all that running and yoga to my speedy recovery and what I consider to be a successful re-entry into postpartum running. Here are a few tidbits I picked up along the way as it relates to getting back out there.
As anxious as I was to get moving after having Noe I was incredibly diligent about waiting the recommended six weeks before running again. I knew the healing time upfront would benefit me way more than starting too early. Don’t get me wrong, I had my running shoes on 10 minutes after I got the all clear from my MD but I do think that time allowed my body to fully recover without the added stress of the pavement. Plus, I fell back in love with walking. I started walking within the first few days of having Noe and continued to up my mileage until I was cleared to run.
2.) Accept the slow down.
I see my running speed and distance from day 1 of pregnancy to today as an upside down bell curve (btw, I’m sure there’s a scientific name for that, sorry), slowly getting slower and slower until I bottomed out and had to climb my way back up. Shocker but you don’t just go back to your pre-pregnancy speed after the baby is born. 🙂
Last Memorial Day I ran the Bolder Boulder. That race was the fastest race I’ve run in years at a 7:40 10k pace, 2 weeks later I found out I was pregnant. From there my speed and distance naturally just decreased. In the early months I was able to continue running around an 8 minute/mile pace which slowed to 9, 10 and eventually 11-12 minute/mile by 40 weeks. The slow down was easy to accept while carrying a baby. What I wasn’t prepared for was how slow I’d be afterward. My first postpartum run was still about 11 minutes/mile. In the last 5+ weeks of running I’ve seen that number go back down again but it’s an ongoing process. Currently I’m hovering at about a 9-9:30 pace but did manage to run one mile at 8:09 yesterday, whoo hoo!
3.) Find running buddies.
I’m was never big on running with groups. I like my solo running time but since being on maternity leave I’m craving the interaction. Our neighborhood has a mommies group that includes a group of mom runners. A few weeks ago I made the effort and posted to the group asking if anyone wanted to run. I’ve had several people reach back out to me including one mom whom I’ve set up a standing weekly running date with. It’s great for accountablity but also for speed. She’s a faster runner than I am and has been pushing me to take less breaks and run longer than I would have on my own. Plus, having someone to chat with makes that miles go faster.
4.) Set a goal.
I have my sights set on running the Bolder Boulder again this year. I know I won’t run it as fast but having a race to look forward to fires me up.
5.) Plan ahead.
Running used to consist of me deciding two minutes before I was ready to go. Now it requires making sure that Noe is changed and fed ahead of time, that the stroller is prepped, that I have Eli’s leash, etc. It’s a three ring circus as we head out but I’m slowly learning to plan my runs around feedings and naps. It’s also taken a few trials for Eli to get the hang of running with a stroller, not to mention getting my arms in shape to push 30 extra pounds (also a reason to accept the slowdown). This coordination has taken time and I just now feel like the three of us have found our groove. It’s all worth it though to see this happy face afterward.
6.) Let your body be your guide.
I still take walking breaks. I still slow my pace. I take rest days or go to yoga when I’m not feeling it. Pregnancy taught me more than ever to LISTEN to my body. I’m so incredibly thankful that it allowed me to carry my little girl for 9 months, for healing with relative ease and for allowing me to lace up my running shoes 6 weeks after surgery. The least I can do is listen to what it has to say.
Looking back over these tips, I don’t think they are exclusive to postpartum running. Running should be enjoyable and not something that you have to do. I’m looking so forward to lots of summer of running and racing.
Enjoy and Exhale!