You’ve had a baby. Six weeks pass and you’re ready to get back into running.
Not so fast.
Going for a run is no longer as simple as chucking on your running shoes, grabbing your Suunto, putting in the earphones and heading out the door. Nope, sorry, there’s a process to get through first.
Even a quick 15 minute run requires some planning. After all you can’t leave your newborn at home on his own. Taking them in a pram isn’t an option until they’re at least four or five months. And your breasts, ouch, ouch, ouch.
To make running as comfortable and enjoyable as possible, here are a few things you can do.
1. Find a time that works for you and your partner. You need him or her to be willing to either (a) stay at home with baby while you go out for a run, or (b) take baby for a walk when you run and then you can meet up and walk together as a cool down. We choose option B.
2. Schedule your run after you breastfeed. Running with full breasts is not pleasant. It hurts. A lot. Breastfeed your little one directly before your run so your breasts are empty and it’s more comfortable to run. Wear a supportive bra. You need one regardless of your bust size. It’s an investment, don’t skimp on any old one.
3. Warm up. Your joints, muscles and tendons are not what they were before you fell pregnant and had a baby. Your body needs a little bit longer to get back into it.
4. Take it nice and slow. It’s not a race to see how quickly you can get back to marathon training postpartum although some might think it is. It isn’t. You’ve just spent nine months with a growing human in your belly. If you stopped running and exercise early in your pregnancy you need more time to ease back into it compared to someone who was training right up to the end of their pregnancy.
5. Listen to your body.
6. Stay hydrated. If you’re breastfeeding you need more water. If you’re running and breastfeeding (not at the same time of course), you need to drink even more water. Keep a bottle with you at all times. Even at night when you wake up to feed your baby. In the first few weeks I was going through a litre of water during the night and another two during the day.
7. Enjoy it. Running is meant to make you happy. Lower your stress levels. Give you some ‘you’ time.
8. Stretch afterwards. Gently. Your muscles will thank you for it.
9. Rest days are vital. When you first start getting back into it start of with a couple days a week with a few days of rest in between. Then build up to 2-3 times, then 3-4 times per week.
10. Take advantage of going slow by working on your form. Improving your running form will help prevent injuries and make you a stronger runner.
Did you start running soon after giving birth? How did you feel? Would you do anything differently the second time around?