Thursday, June 15, 2017

6 Thoughts on Running after Pregnancy

Now that my baby is six months old, I have six thoughts to share on running after pregnancy.

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I have been a casual runner for years, as mentioned numerous times on this blog. "Casual" meaning I run for fun and for the health benefits, not to win - it's nice to see improvements and increased speed, but I choose not to make it a priority. My relationship with running has changed over the past year, before and after baby C joined our family. I keep hearing comments from people like this: "Oh I hear running is terrible after pregnancy" and "Running is never going to be the same again." Running is definitely not quite the same but it's not terrible! Caveat: Everyone has a different pregnancy experience. Talk to your doctor before beginning any workout routine.

1: The run itself won't be as hard as expected.

This may not be true for everyone, but it was true for me. I took a clean break from running for 7 months. I expected to be the person that ran straight through, but running became quite uncomfortable just a few months in and I was pregnant during the {hot} summer. Besides general discomfort, I also worried about getting overheated and decided walking would be a better use of my time. When I had my first run in January of this year, I expected it to be awful. I ran 3 miles and while I took a few breaks, overall it felt good.

2: The pace will be slower.

Even though running feels pretty good post-baby, I am taking it a lot slower. I'm already not the fastest runner - the quickest race time I have had is around a 9:25/minute mile. I have lost at least 1.5 - 2 minutes per mile at this point and I am absolutely okay with this. I know it will come back with time and effort and for now, I'm just happy to get out there when I can.

3: Early morning races are easier {once your baby sleeps through the night}.

Hear me out on this one - I have always been an early riser and never one to sleep in. Having a baby has made me an even earlier riser most days, especially on nights when baby C sleeps right through. His sleeping habits are very good at this point {knock on wood}. He typically wakes up once in the night.

Before I went back to work in May, I read a lot about being a working mom and one of the suggestions was to wake up an hour before your family for the "golden hour." For me, the golden hour means time to have my first cup of coffee, take a shower, and work on this blog before work begins, if I have extra time. For race days, using the golden hour to get ready and wake up has worked very well. I have run three races this spring, and for each of them had no problem feeling awake and ready to drink my early coffee before heading out the door.

4: Getting out the door takes extra time.

Even with the golden hour, getting outdoors for a run or for a race is not a fast process. For me, it requires feeding the baby and pumping before getting myself ready, which combined can take 30 minutes or longer. I occasionally try to multi-task by having my coffee and/or breakfast at the same time.

5: Expect to take breaks.

Despite the positive comments so far on running after pregnancy, it has been quite a challenge. The hardest part is not the act of running - it's letting go of the "mom guilt" and finding time to get out there since I have gone back to work. I have only run a handful of times in the past 6 weeks since I started working again, even though I work from my home office the majority of the week. My goal for the summer is to figure this out - I want to have a routine where I'm able to run twice a week, with a third workout of weights, yoga, barre, etc.

6: Make plans to incorporate your baby.

To resolve the issue of taking long breaks, I'm looking forward to incorporating baby C into my runs and making it a family affair with K when possible. I was gifted a jogging stroller but haven't actually used it for "jogging" yet - based on what I have read, the recommended age for using a jogging stroller is between 6-8 months. The age to start using it may also depend on your baby and/or the stroller you purchase. I have the J is for Jeep All-Terrain Jogging Stroller. For city living and running, I have heard great reviews of the BOB Revolution FLEX Stroller.

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