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First step to getting back to running after baby is to give yourself some grace. Remember, you haven’t run in two or three months (at least), and running is a sport that you need to maintain to keep your gains. Here are five tips to help you get back to running after baby arrives.
TIP #1 Choose your timing wisely
If you are nursing, wait until after a feeding or pump session to go on a run. There are a few reasons for this. One, it will make sure baby is taken care of while you take time to care for yourself. Two, running when you are ‘full’ can be very uncomfortable – I always felt as if I was sloshing about though I know that was in my head. And finally, running can impact your supply in the moments after a run – so it will make sure that you are maintaining a healthy milk supply while also getting back to your running routine.
TIP #2 Include baby on your runs
It can be hard both mentally and physically to leave your baby, even if it is just for 30 minutes, in the first few months postpartum. Make sure to invest in a good running stroller and bring baby with you on your runs. I have loved both my single and double Bob strollers. It was able to hold my two boys comfortably up to about a 7:30 pace. I do find that any faster than that and you will experience a bumpier ride. It will be good for them to get outside, and good for you since you will be right there in case they need something. That being said – make sure you bring supplies with you (like a bottle and extra blanket) just in case you need to make a pit spot to soothe baby.
TIP #3 Don’t time your runs
Now is not the time to try to PR. Your goal is just to get out and running again, even if it is just for a mile or two to start. Don’t worry about how fast you are going. Focus on putting one foot in front of the other and pay attention to how your body feels. Be ok with walking up steep hills or turning around after ten minutes. It will take time to build your mileage back up and that is ok! Getting back out is the first, and hardest, step.
TIP #4 Wait for your doctors green light
I know, six weeks can feel like a long time, and you may feel like you are up for it, but wait. Running is a full body exercise, and uses your abdominal muscles and pelvic floor – both of which are still recovering from trauma. Make sure to get your doctor’s okay to start running again. Ask them to check your abdominal muscles to make sure your body is ready to start running again.
TIP #5 Check your shoes
Your feet may have grown a bit during pregnancy – and your shoes are the most important piece of equipment for runners. Make sure that your running shoes still fit properly before you start to run significant mileage again. Remember, improper foot wear causes the majority of running injuries and you don’t want to get shin splints your first week back! I wear Allbirds running shoes, and have for years, but these work great for my narrow feet. After baby number one I wore New Balance for awhile until my feet were back to their normal pre-pregnancy size. Find a shoe that works for you and keep two in stock (so wet shoes don't slow down your progress).
Take your time getting back to running after baby – it will likely take a year to really get back into your pre-pregnancy condition, and that is okay! It can be discouraging to lose gains you made with previous training – trust me, it was hard for me to go from a 6:45 marathon pace to a 12 minute pace post baby, but eventually I was able to run a seven minute mile again (with my two year old telling me to go faster mommy!).