I don’t know if I consider myself a “real” runner. Then again, I’m not exactly sure what it means to be a “real runner.” Before getting pregnant I was training for a half marathon and running an average of 5-7 miles, 3-4 times a week. I wasn’t super fast; I’m all about the running for enjoyment, not for the time. I don’t own a Garmin, I’ve never timed a run, and the closest I’ve come to keeping track of my distance is playing around on Mapmyrun.com. But I have always loved running. Running is my thinking time, my chance to put on some music, zone out, and just let my body naturally move forward. And then I got pregnant and the running stopped. And yes, I know there are runners out there who impressively run 7 1/2 minute miles with their 9 month pregger belly bouncing along, and really, kudos to them, I’m honestly impressed. But that was not my experience. At about 10 weeks pregnant I stopped running when every time I went out, my morning sickness (AKA all day nausea) left me dry heaving in people’s bushes. Not pretty. And then, once the morning sickness subsided, I attempted to run again only to realize the whole belly bouncing, back aching experience was just not doing it for me. So I took a break. A VERY long break. There are some runner mommy blogs I follow where the crazy ladies give birth and 2 weeks later they’re blogging about their 10 mile runs. (Ok, I exaggerate…barely). These insane moms are an inspiration, but again, that was definitely not my experience. So, with that in mind, here are 5 things I’ve learned while still attempting to get my running mojo back 5 months post birth.
1. Your new post-birth body feels insanely different than your old pre-baby body.
Before I had a baby I seriously had no butt. I’m talking full on saggy pants business. And then I got pregnant and suddenly BAM, I grew a butt. And, as a side note, if I’m honest, I kind of enjoy it. It’s like I suddenly put my jeans on and think “ohhhhh so that’s how my pants are supposed to fit……” But the first time I ran after birth? I seriously thought “What the heck is that thing jiggling behind me and why the heck is it so darn heavy?!” That, paired with my new heavy umm…you knows…and I felt like a big jiggly blob stumbling down the street. Not super attractive. Luckily, this didn’t last forever. 5 months later I’ve grown accustomed to my new “parts” and running is becoming easier everyday.
2. Pump or nurse RIGHT before you run.
I’m talking like moments before you walk out the door, not 30 minutes before your run, not 15 minutes, but IMMEDIATELY before you leave. Nurse, pull down your shirt, lace up your shoes and get your butt out the door. Seriously, you will thank me.
3. Running post baby not only feels different, but it can also be uncomfortable or even down right painful.
This is what I cannot for the life of me understand with those crazy new mom runners who are out running 10 miles immediately after popping out their kid. My first run was exactly 5 1/5 weeks after birth and, let me tell you, that business hurt. I’m talking ovaries jostling about, worrying they may fall out my body, kind of hurt. I think I made it about 500 ft before deciding, “yeah…I think walking’s cool for today.” And it took me awhile before running was comfortable. I don’t know if this is normal, or if it’s just a side effect from my crazy messed up PCOS ovaries, but 5 months later? My ovaries are just now starting to not feel crampy while running.
4. Running with a jogging stroller is awkward.
How the heck do you push this thing?? Do you do the one arm push, one arm swing?? Do you push with both arms and keep your body all stiff?? Do you push with no arms and hope the speedy momentum of your body moves the stroller by itself?? (I wish) It took me quite some time to get into the jogging stroller groove. I tried the whole pushing with both arms deal at first but after my first run my back KILLED for quite some time. I found I was most comfortable pushing the stroller with one arm and doing my normal running swing with my other. In theory I switch arms occasionally, but honestly I basically push the stroller with my right arm the entire way and swing my left. But luckily I live in South Florida where hills are non-existant so the whole pushing a stroller with one arm deal is no biggie. Until a strong headwind hits, and then that stroller wants to take off like a kite.
Another note on pushing a jogging stroller, it’s all about your core strength. My post baby abs were like jello and pushing Leah’s heavy chub for a few miles felt impossible. About a mile and a half in I could feel my arms giving way and my body begin to bend into the stroller. I’ve been doing CrossFit 4 times a week for 2 weeks now and, when I went for a run today, I already felt a CRAZY difference. My core feels 110% stronger and pushing that stroller, while staying upright and strong even with the crazy headwinds, felt like nothing. So go do some CrossFit! Or at least some situps…..
5. Running with a baby is fun.
I am developing a whole new love of running with Leah. Every time I sit her in the jogging stroller she kicks and smiles and is just so excited to get outside. Seeing how happy she is, makes me even more motivated to get outside for a run. And another perk to lugging your chubby baby/toddler on your run? The times you go running and you aren’t pushing them, you feel like you are flying.
So there you have it, my 5 lessons I’ve learned from running 5 months after baby. Now get out there and run.