8/15/2014

How to get back to running after pregnancy

Getting back to running after pregnancy might be easy. It might be not. Some moms run a marathon within months after giving birth. Others don't. But, at least in my opinion - and after consulting a PT, there are some guidelines to follow. 

1. Start whenever you feel ready and start slowly

This might be right after giving birth. This might be after a couple of weeks. This might be after several months. Golden rule is not to push it. My PT warned me about getting back in full-on training mode too early, and noticing the negative effects of this on your pelvic floor after several years. 

Start with shorter distances and work from there. Listen to your body and don't try to push limits you shouldn't.

2. Try to ignore public opinion and pressure

We have al heard them. The 'so and so was back to running after just a few weeks, and ran a marathon within a couple of months' and 'well, you should at least be back in pre pregnancy shape within 3 months' and 'wait, what? you haven't lost all the pregnancy weight yet? It's already been 2 months!'. Well, the truth is, every body is different, every mom is different, every pregnancy is different and every family is different. Try not to judge. But since it is in the nature of people to judge, you might feel bad about yourself from time to time, because others (runners or not) expect you to do things that aren't realistic and/or your body isn't ready for. Try not to compare you to others. It does not make you weak if you're back to running full on weeks/months/or even a year later than other moms. 

In my case, I do consider myself a seasoned runner. I have several marathons and ultras under my belt, managed to run a 3 1/2 hour marathon (which isn't fast, I know, but at least it got my a qualification to run the Boston Marathon, which was something I really wanted), and averaged 10-16 hour training weeks. I had every intention to run through my pregnancy, but reality was I was on bed rest from 16 weeks on (starting with semi, and on full after a while). After giving birth I had pelvic floor issues (and yes, I did have a rock solid pelvic floor pre pregnancy, did my exercises during and after, but - as my PT explained - you can tick all the boxes and still have leakage (yes, I said it ;)) and pain after running for a longer period of time). It happens, and it is not something that should make you feel like less of a runner. You are still a runner. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. 

And then there is the 'time for running' issue. I'm a single mom, and need to juggle running around my little boy's schedule. There is not significant other I can ask to watch baby Q, to give me some time to run. No complaining here. But, juggling in runs is a bit more challenging. Luckily, I do have a baby jogger. And yes, a 2 hour baby jogger run, feels like at least 3 hours without a stroller. And you have to work harder to keep the same pace. Hello, muscular arms. ;)

Plus, reality is, there are quite some times when you want to cuddle with your baby, you're just too tired or just want to chill out on the couch with a book. Nothing to feel guilty about.

Most of the time your running buddies will understand, but sometimes they won't. And might even make you - unintentionally - feel bad. Seeing your running buddies run in front of you with others, because you can't keep up yet, is just not a fun thing.

3. Down size your Twitter / Instagram / Facebook time

Reading about everyone else's accomplishments might make you feel bad. Even though you know you just gave birth, this won't stop that little voice in the back of your head, that is telling you that you are slacking. 

4. Cross train

It might be easier to do core work outs/strength training/a stationary bike session with the baby sleeping next to you. It will give you that 'I worked out' rush and it helps your running. 

5. Watch that pelvic floor

My PT pointed out that this is a big one. Most new moms seem to forget about this, and end up in pain years after giving birth. By paying attention now, doing your exercises, and not rushing back into running/exercising, you can do everything to prevent this. 

6. Set a reasonable goal

Don't make yourself run a marathon PR months after giving birth. Pick a race that has a high fun factor for you (for me this was running one of the Swiss Alpine Marathon distances - the half marathon with quite some altitude gain- 4 months after having my son), and set yourself a goal of not finishing last. In my case I did not finish last, but was much slower than pre pregnancy, and in pretty much yucky pelvic pain from the half way point on, but I did have a lot of fun and a great experience. 

Do you have any other tips that might be helpful for new moms?

1 comment:

Paul Rodman said...

Young lady, you are fast.

If you have qualified for Boston you are fast in my book.

if you run 10-16 hour training weeks you are TRAINING A TON and are probably fast too.

Just FYI...Cheers,

paul