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Returning to Running After C Section

Running after C Section can be a slow and difficult process, but it can be done! Running after pregnancy may feel a little different, but I’m sharing my tips for easing back into it. 

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).

And today, we’re talking mostly to females as usual lol. 

The weeks after pregnancy and giving birth are a complete blur. You may be recovering from your birth and still comprehending your birth story

Also, you’re learning your newborn. You are very sleep deprived. Most likely, you’re hungry all the time (if you’re breastfeeding). Balancing running and breastfeeding is a learning curve on its own!

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.

You may have milk stains all over yourself and be a ball of emotions. 

It’s overwhelming to think about keeping the baby alive!

Exercise can be a great thing to balance your stress and anxiety, but how do you know when you’re ready to run? Especially if you had abdominal surgery or a C Section?

Running After C Section 

Exercise wasn’t even at the forefront of my mind after delivery and abdominal surgery. Plus, adjusting to life with a newborn.

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!

Returning to exercise after pregnancy

Six weeks away from complete exercise of any knid 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.

Postpartum Running Text | Bucket List Tummy

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.

My Postpartum Exercise Routine Tips

I’m still very “new” into transitioning into exercise. Obviously, I suggest taking it very slowly.

You don’t want to risk injury and your pelvic floor is sensitive. I saw a pelvic floor specialist and highly recommend doing so if you feel nervous or have questions. If you can’t see a specialist, even investing in a postnatal pelvic floor program can do wonders. 

Around 12 weeks postpartum is when I started to really get back into running, which is what is recommended by the newest postpartum research done by physiologists

Don’t Compare Yourself

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.

Ease in slower and lighter than you think you need to

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. Reminding myself to practice self care for exercise. 

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!

Running on treadmill after C Section

Don’t Focus on Pace

This one seems obvious, right? Focus on how you feel instead. 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 little depressing to compare to my normal
  • 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 elliptical-ing feels good.

This was a reminder that I shouldn’t rush into anything before I was mentally and physically ready.

Girl on running trail with dog


Acknowledge Your Stamina May 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.

Running stroller on trail for running after C Section | Bucket List Tummy

Hills still get me pretty out of breath, but it’s nice to have something to work towards.

Ask Yourself, “Where is the pressure coming from?”

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 from pre-baby.

Honestly, I’m still accepting that AND THAT IS OK. It will take me some time to accept it but every time I look at Camryn, I wholeheartedly feel better.

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.

Make Sure You’re Eating Enough

Think about all the energy your body is expending and needs to recover from a huge surgery. Running adds additional energy to that. 

Our Nail Your Nutrition course goes into depth about meeting your nutrition needs for running and training!

Other Running Posts you May Enjoy

Tips for running in the third trimester

Running, life lessons and motherhood

How I Trained for My First Half Marathon Post Partum 

Differences between my first and second pregnancies

Have you ever taken a long break from running/exercise? How did your return go?

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  1. I really appreciate how cautious you are especially as a really good runner who loves to run. It’s really neat that you’re feeling good now, and you’re learning about running by feel. 🙂 It’s so cool to me how God heals the body and how even though it takes time, it does happen. You just have to be patient.

  2. I love your perspective! I think I learned a little bit of this when I was injured from running a few years ago and had to go a couple of months without it. It was TOUGH (with no cute baby as a consolation haha!), but I really did learn how I could indeed function well without running in my life, even though it’s something I really love, and it made me appreciate my typical healthy body so much more!

  3. What a wonderful lesson in learning to focus on “how do I feel?” Its amazing you are being given this opportunity to really tune in – maybe even more than ever – to your body’s messages; to how it feels; and to the reasons why you love to move and exercise. Almost like a gift, I’d say. A bit of a re-start, yes, but I think this new shift in perspective is going to aid you, and your connection to the physical part of your life, so much more fully in all your years to come. I think so many people get into such a routine with running or exercise that we tune off those messages of how our body is truly feeling. You go mama.

  4. ALL great tips about easing back, and doing things based on how they feel rather than what you (or others) may think they are supposed to feel. Like Jessie mentioned, I also had an unexpected running sabbatical…a year ago I had emergency surgery and had to take a 3-month break from running while the nasty suture seam healed. I was able to maintain most of my endurance (I had just done a marathon a couple weeks prior to the surgery), but I had to take things easy when my surgeon finally gave me the green light.It’s great to hear your perspective as a new mom…congrats on your baby!

  5. Congratulations, Mama! Priorities do shift…and that is perfectly OK. I’m impressed that you are making time for regular exercise. That in itself is tricky with an infant. I predict the baby will be enjoying some stroller running time with Mom in no time! Thanks for linking.

  6. I think the hardest part about getting back to running after giving birth was my impatience! I like your advice about easing back into it. Easier said than done–but like anything, if you do too much, you’re just inviting injury.

  7. Helpful post about your return! It doesn’t sound all that different than my present situation, which is a return to running after a traumatic tib/fib break in February. All great tips for me to hear as well 🙂

    Best of luck!