I hope you had a great weekend! And happy father’s day to the wonderful dads out there (though from what I know, my male readership is very minimal).
The weeks after pregnancy are a complete blur. You’re learning your newborn. You are very sleep deprived. Most likely, you’re hungry all the time (if you’re breastfeeding). You may be cranky with moments of excitement and aww (like HOW in the world did I create this magical little human), but the next minute, be in tears about fear you’re not doing anything right. It’s overwhelming to think about keeping the baby alive!
Exercise wasn’t even at the forefront of my mind. Plus, recovering from a C-Section is a whole new ballgame. You can’t do stairs, and you are very tender at the incision. I was happy to just relax and take a break from exercise for weeks (even months). After about a week, I started with some slow walking around the neighborhood. It just felt good to move, after sitting and laying the majority of the time, and bending over.
Remember, your body goes through a lot with pregnancy, birth and recovery. I smile when I look back at how my body looked just a few months ago!
Six weeks away from exercise is the longest I’ve ever gone – from running, and from anything. After the first week or so, I tried to walk about every day (getting out of the house is necessary). But, nothing strenuous or vigorous. And honestly, I learned alot about myself during that time. I learned to appreciate exercise for how it makes me feel, when it was something I didn’t do for so long. I learned that the world doesn’t end if I don’t “move” everyday, and there are much more important things in life. Priorities really do take over. I learned that showers are overrated – if I didn’t do anything, I felt no need to shower.
Now, I’m a 2-3 weeks into a somewhat regular exercise routine. I say somewhat because I don’t know what regular will even look like for a few years, probably. But, I’m getting a few runs in a week, doing some weight stuff at home and starting to feel kind of like my self.
I’m still very “new” into transitioning into exercise. Obviously, I’m taking it very slowly. I don’t want to risk injury or anything. Plus, I still have a small infant who needs my constant attention. Without childcare at this point, even finding the time and energy to do a workout on my own is very difficult.
I want to reiterate that every body is different. Just because this is my journey to exercise doesn’t mean yours will look the same. I don’t write this as something to compare to, but just as my journey for those of you who are interested.
The best advice I can give is to listen to your body if/when you are trying to add exercise back in. But, here’s what I’ve learned and focused on in adding exercise back in.
Start slower and lighter than you think
I remember all the feels for my first “run.” I just felt a little off in my own body. Robotic, almost. Very tight and discombobulated. Now, I feel much more “normal” but I’m still taking things light and slow. To ease back into running, I started consistently running 20 seconds, walking 40 seconds. Slowly, I built up to jogging for a minute straight, alternated by a minute walking. Within a few weeks, I did a mile straight without stopping.
Last week, I did a 3 mile and 4 mile run, both without stopping. And they even felt somewhat good! I’m not oblivious to knowing that this is still very early on, and I’m going to play it safe!
I’m not interested in paces/records
I’m sure I’ll get there. But even just getting out and doing something feels good. I’m not even looking at my watch or worrying about pace because that doesn’t matter right now. What matters is feeling ok and stable on my feet, and slowly building back up.
I’ve realized that focusing on pace is…
a) a little depressing to compare to my normal, and
b) just not important right now.
This has been a good lesson in running by feel.
Remember that movement should feel good
This is one of the principles of HAES, and it’s something I talk to clients about. Pick a form of movement you LIKE and that feels good. I didn’t want to force myself to run before I was ready. I got to the point where I missed running. And I felt ready. But maybe for you, walking or ellipticalling feels good.
This was a reminder that I shouldn’t rush into anything before I was mentally and physically ready.
Your stamina will probably be low
Though you are a rockstar for giving birth in the first place (giving birth is way harder than running a marathon in my opinion), this is different. Your muscles have atrophied a little bit, rightfully so. Your body has been focused on MUCH MORE IMPORTANT things.
At first, I got tired after running on my feet for 2 minutes. Then, it slowly increased to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes. Right now, I’m tired at about the 25 minute mark. But it’s all worth it. I know as I continue to improve and practice slowly, I’ll be back to what is my new normal. Hills still get me pretty out of breath, but it’s nice to have something to work towards.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”How I returned to #running after #pregnancy #runchat” quote=”How I returned to #running after #pregnancy #runchat”]
Lastly, I would encourage all you mamma’s to take the pressure off. You don’t have to be “as good” as you used to be, or as fast, or as dedicated. I think my post-partum running may be very different. AND THAT IS OK. It took me some time to accept it but every time I look at Camryn, I wholeheartedly accept it.
Running is important to me, and I want it to continue to play a role in my life. But I am not defined by running. Running and exercise are parts of my life that brings me happiness and stress relief, but it’s not my whole life.
Other Running Posts you May Enjoy
Have you ever taken a long break from running/exercise? How did your return go?