After having Baby O in February and being off running for nearly 6 months, I was dreading returning to running as much as I was looking forward to it. I knew I would be starting slow, essentially from scratch to try and build my endurance back up. My first runs back were tough and there were days when I really had to tough it out and tell myself that I would get back to where I was before getting pregnant but that it would be a lot of hard work on my part.
Now, 6 months after starting back, I’m just over one week away from running a half marathon. I feel good, I feel strong and I feel prepared to tackle this race and leave it all on the pavement.
I would be lying if I said that it’s been a smooth transition to get where I am now. Truth is, I’m tired and a bit burnt out from the training. When I signed up for this race, I assumed (very naively) that baby O would be on a decent schedule and sleeping by now. I was very wrong. He is still up at night, doesn’t nap well during the day and when he does, Fit Boy is usually awake so I’ve been doing what I can, when I can on less than optimal sleep.
Here are some of the tips I have to offer on how to get back to running after you’ve had a baby. Keep in mind, these are tips that worked for me in my situation and aren’t necessarily going to work for you.
1. Take it one minute at a time: The first couple of weeks, I didn’t and couldn’t run more than one minute at a time before being out of breath. It was a good 2 months before I could run a 10 minute stretch (I always run 10, walk 1. More on why that method works for me another day) before walking and even then, I was very near barfing at the end of a 3 mile “long” run. Now I can run my 10 minute lap with relative ease. Meet your body where it is today, not where it was 9 months ago. It’s done some pretty amazing stuff since then and it takes time for everything to go back to where it was before.
2. Listen to your body: If you get nothing else from anything I’ve ever said, please, please, PLEASE take this to heart. Train smart and pay attention to the cues your body is giving you. Don’t ignore the aches and pains and if you’re exhausted, then your body is telling you to take it easy and take a nap instead of going for a run. It’s ok to challenge yourself and push yourself but do so mindfully. Don’t mistake exhaustion for laziness, there is a huge difference.
3. Eat and hydrate well: Also very important. My biggest challenge was making sure I was drinking enough water to hydrate my body to run/recover and to breastfeed. This means drinking a ton of the clear stuff each and every day. Eating properly was also essential, not just as good fuel but for the energy boost it would give me to play and cuddle my kids, run and then play and cuddle my kids some more.
What was the biggest challenge for you (mentally and/or physically) when you first started running again after having a baby?