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.
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.