PostPartum Running

Posted by Filed Under: Running Tips, Women's Running

A lot of people ask me what it’s like to start running again after having a baby. My son was born one year ago, and these last twelve months have been the usual whirlwind of finding a new balance between my family, work, and time for myself. It hasn’t always been pretty, but here we are, relatively unscathed and eager to raise a glass and toast ourselves on surviving this year!
Four weeks after my son was born, I was itching to get back out there and start building my mileage. I thought it was super fun gaining 60 pounds and getting high blood pressure and missing the window for an epidural, but I was ready to reclaim my body and running was the ultimate prize in my mind. My plan for getting back to running, post partum, involved the following:

  • Run for 30 minutes, 4 times per week;
  • Use the treadmill because I couldn’t leave the house with a newborn;
  • Start at 5.0 mph on the treadmill; increase by .1 mph every 4 runs (weekly);
  • Buy a bulletproof bra.

Simple, Easy!
It sounds so simple, and really, it was. Simple, however, is not the same as easy.

It was so much harder than I ever would have imagined! I often had to run at 10 o’clock at night, because it was literally the only time I could. Someday, I will write a book about finding the perfect running bra for a nursing mother. I tried everything, including wearing two bras and a running shirt that has built-in support ~ all at the same time. I ordered three different bras, by recommendation, over the internet. Like Goldilocks, I was desperately searching for the fit that was not too tight, not too loose, but just right. For me, it never happened. I suffered through skin blisters and thanked the running gods that I never had clogged milk ducts–even though everybody swore I would. It all paid off when I officially ran a 5k in 34 minutes last October, 10 weeks after my son was born.

The happy ending is not that I returned to running with a vengeance after pregnancy. The fact is that I’ve had to return to my simple plan, and re-start running, no fewer than five times this year. Every time I think I have some momentum going, I let some little thing or another (like postpartum depression or a need for sleep) derail me and the next thing I know, I’m starting from scratch.

In fact, I’m starting from scratch as we speak. Last night, as I went in for my seventh lap of twelve around the local track, at the pace equivalent of an arthritic octogenarian, I started thinking about what it’s like to start running again after pregnancy. It’s like that movie, Groundhog Day. Every day, Bill Murray’s character wakes up, trapped in the same day, and he stays there until he gets it right. Every day, I make the decision to get out there and run, and I’m going to keep doing that until I get it right.

  1. beverly on August 21st at 8:49 pm

    The magic in your writing, Mia, is that you write with a voice that could be any Runner/Mom/Reader’s. Groundhog day is the perfect analogy!

  2. Jack on August 21st at 9:28 pm

    Bev’s got it right, your flavor of writing is refreshing.

  3. Dawn - Pink chick on August 22nd at 6:29 am

    Awesome stuff. Heck for me running is often like “Groundhog day” and my baby is 28 yrs old.

  4. Laura Lohr on August 23rd at 5:38 pm

    My baby is 9 1/2 months old and I have shared almost identical experiences. After almost 10 months, still no clogged ducts.

    It is good to know I am not alone ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Kathi on August 24th at 10:30 am

    Running is the ultimate post-partum exercise. I too struggled after my children were born to even just get on the treadmill, walking at first, not even running! Now, all the baby weight is gone (and then some), I’m running faster than my husband on our long runs and my treadmill is collecting dust! Moms everywhere should turn to running.

  6. brit on August 24th at 6:50 pm

    dude, you hit the nail on the head. it’s like groundhog day..only worse. Because in your mind…you know you can do the distance…but your body and your boobs are all “hold on sister friend, we are in recovery”.

    BTW how cool is this new site?

  7. Working Blue on June 9th at 9:09 am

    […] running brings a runner. The first jump back into the running life isn’t going to be easy. Anyone can tell you that postpartum running has its own ups-n-downs. I’ll have to start by walking, […]

  8. physically challenged on March 11th at 6:51 pm

    Pre-pregnancy I used to run atleast 1 hour a day and up to 3.5 hours 1-2 times a week…I’d never skip a day. I had to stop running at week 8 of my pregnancy b/c I’d feel exhausted after 30 minutes and found that very frustrating. I resorted to doing the elliptical and swimming daily. In other words I did my darndest to keep my cardio up right up until I delivered. Unfortunately I ended up with a 4th degree tear during my delivery…however I was raring to go post-delivery. I returned to the gym a week after giving birth and started with 30 min on the elliptical b/c everyone told me to take it easy. I tried running 2 weeks after giving birth but only lasted 30 minutes. Aside from feeling very jiggly all over, my big problem was bowel control. I religiously did Kegal’s. I’m now 9 months post and still have slight problems down there, although it’s getting much better. I am finally able to run 7.25 miles in 1 hour, 5 days a week. I’m frustrated b/c I can’t seem to find much info on the internet about the physical challenges of running post-delivery. Is there anyone out there who had a similar experience or knows where I might find some info? There seems to be a lot of info re exercising during pregnancy but not about the post-pregnancy challenges.

  9. tanya jones on July 13th at 2:21 pm

    I had my baby boy ten days ago, and i am wanting to escape into the world of running. Feeling frustrated that i cannot find a website that can give your the guidelines to when it is okay for you to start runing.

  10. mommieIAm on November 14th at 12:03 am

    Yah Tanya, I couldn’t find a website that told me when I could start running again either! I had a C-section 4 weeks ago, and I have already started SLOWLY running. I’m sure it isn’t recommended, OR that my doctor would say it is okay. But I feel fine and it has really helped my sanity with a newborn.

  11. Ashley on December 7th at 8:42 pm

    To the “physically challenged on March 11th Mom”…I had the same issues “down there” with running as well. I didn’t realize it until I was about 3 miles away from home on a jogging path, in soaking wet sweat pants. Horribly embarrassing. I resorted to buying a treadmill and running at home to avoid embarrassing accidents. That really worked for me. Eventually, I was able to make it to the gym, put my child in the nursery and run on their treadmills with no worries. That took almost a year and a half though. I never did my kegals, so I chalk it up to continuous build-up on the treadmill at home.

  12. Women's Bras on April 16th at 1:34 pm

    From a mom who was size J during and after pregnancy I totally can connect with the “just right fit”

  13. Jessica on July 13th at 12:12 pm

    I’m glad there are other momma’s out there who can’t wait to get running again. I was running up to ten miles at a time when I got pregnant with identical twin girls. The drs immediately told me running would be a ” no no” during pregnancy and I found myself a little depressed missing the running. Had my girls at 30 weeks after a difficult pregnancy & the girls are still in NICU & will be for some time. I don’t know about any one else but running has been my therapy. Tried running 4 days postpartum…stupid idea, got sick & lots of bleeding. Tried again 2 weeks after, again lots of bleeding. Going to try to take it easy & use some self control. Thinking of trying again at four weeks. It’s hard to realize that your body needs the healing time even when you feel like you can do it. Also as I am pumping (every two hours for 20 minutes) & giving it to girls at hospital, I found that the boob problem is rather difficult while running. Had to literally hold them last time. Anyone know of any good sports bras that work for nursing mama’s?

  14. R U Cereal? on August 18th at 7:10 pm

    I went back to softball exactly 6 weeks post – I think sports bras were all I could wear afterwards (went from B to DD while nursing)
    The Danskin bras were the most comfy for me. I still use them for running.
    Still looking for my pre-pregnancy body, hope to find it while running ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. ุงุบุงู†ูŠ ุนุฑุงู‚ูŠู‡ on October 8th at 5:23 am

    I went back to softball exactly 6 weeks post โ€“ I think sports bras were all I could wear afterwards (went from B to DD while nursing)
    The Danskin bras were the most comfy for me. I still use them for running.
    Still looking for my pre-pregnancy body, hope to find it while running