Friday, February 15, 2013

The Road Back to Running

Before we were discharged from the hospital Dr. N came to talk to us.  Knowing I was a runner, he talked to me about getting back into running.  He suggested once I felt really good walking to add a little bit of running into my walks.  Up until that point I’m not really sure what I had been thinking as far as running goes.  I knew I would have to wait awhile, probably 4-6 weeks, but I hadn’t really thought of where to start when I was ready.  Looking back on it now, I probably would have started off with 2 miles (normally the mileage I start off with after extended time off) and go from there.  All I can say is thank goodness for his advice because that would have been a disaster!  

Four days after Carter was born, our 2nd full day home, we went on our first walk.  My mom and I put Carter in the stroller and off we went.  I was stiff and sore, but it felt so good to get out in the fresh air and move around.  We walked one mile which became my standard distance and then I started adding a quarter mile at a time to my walks. 
My mom ready to take Carter on a walk with me.  It was 70 degrees (for those of you who noticed Carter isn't bundled up!) but we did cover him with a blanket.
I know not everyone can start with walking as early as I did.  I was very lucky that I felt so good so soon after delivery.  It definitely helped that my mom stayed with us and the first day back home she told me to really take it easy. Like don’t even make the bed, that kind of easy.  So I mainly just sat around, enjoyed Carter, and recovered.  She cleaned house and helped me out in any way possible.  Ty was also home and helping, it was glorious!

I worked up to a 3 mile walk (which took me 3 weeks) and decided I was ready to add in some running.  It wasn’t premeditated.  I wasn’t even wearing a sports bra.  I just started to walk and then decided I wanted to do some running that day.  I walked a half-mile warm up and then started segments where I ran for one minute, walked for 2 and repeated for 2 miles and then did a half mile cool down walk.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good I felt.  My hips and pelvis were still sore, but I didn’t have any pain.  I had figured I’d do a couple run segments and have to stop. 

I was surprised that I was still running the same pace I had been at 36 weeks pregnant.  I guess I was thinking Carter would be born and voila I’d be faster, not necessarily back to my regular pace, but like 9 minute miles.  So not the case, I was still running 10:30 pace!  I also had a hint of that out of control marionette puppet feeling.  I kept thinking, hey look at me, I’m RUNNING (in a Forrest Gump voice).  As I ran by other people on the trail I wondered if they could tell what a momentous occasion this was for me.  No belly, no waddle, just me, a stroller, and good old fashioned running! 

After that I started run/walking one day and then just walking the next, run/walking every other day for a total of 2 run/walks the first week and then 3 the next, slowly phasing out my just walks all together.   

At 4 weeks postpartum I had worked up to running quarter mile segments.  I did 5 quarter mile run/quarter mile walk segments.  Then I added in a half-mile jog for one of my running segments.  I continued to increase my running segments by a quarter mile and decrease my walk length until I was running an entire mile without any walk breaks.  I reached that point at 6 weeks postpartum.  I added a quarter mile to my run each day until I worked up to 3 miles.  I started off running about 10-10:30 minute pace and slowly worked back down to 9:30.  I really listened to my body and backed off if I was feeling too sore or achy.  I didn’t add to my run every day.  Some days I would drop back down to rest my body.

I’m now 8 weeks postpartum and up to 3 miles.  My daily runs tend to be 2 or 2.5 miles with 3 miles being a long run for me right now.  My pace is about 9:15 with a really good day under 9 minute pace.  I’m pretty happy with that since my pre-pregnancy pace was 8-8:30, I’m not far off!!!  Granted I’d run 8 miles at that pace and now it’s just 2 or 3 miles, but I’ll take what I can get!  I have a feeling it’s going to take quite a while to get back there and I may not even get back down to that pace since I’m running with a stroller now, we’ll see.
My adorable running buddy!
I know having a baby will forever change my running and I’m okay with that.  I still consider running an important part of my life.  Not just for the physical health benefits, but the mental health benefits.  The first few weeks home Carter was eating every hour day and night, which meant I wasn’t getting much sleep at all!  Getting out and exercising kept me from losing my mind.  I felt refreshed and energized afterward and I seemed to sleep better in the small segments that I was sleeping.

You may not be able to start getting back into running as quickly as I did. You may be able to get back into it sooner.  Everyone is different and everyone’s body reacts differently.  Things may be totally different for me next time around, who knows!  I probably could have started off running quarter miles at a time and increased mileage quicker, but I wanted to play it safe and I’m so glad I did.  I think the most important thing about running after having a baby is to really play it safe and listen to your body.  There is no sense in rushing it and ending up having to take more time off to recover.
My biggest fear when I started running again was tearing or my stitches ripping out.  I was also worried that I would leak milk while running.  I’m happy to report that neither of these things happened!
What did/do you worry about when getting back into your workout routine?

1 comment:

  1. Yay for you! I found you on the hop and am your newest follower. I was kinda maybe sorta hopin' that you'd pop on by my blog, stay a while, and follow me back!

    Have a great day,