How to Incorporate Running into Your Life as a New Mom
You’ve just arrived home with your new bundle of joy and you’re slowly but surely settling into a routine of feedings, diaper changes and naps. And although your inner runner is itching to get out and go for a run, you’re lucky if you have enough time and energy to get yourself showered before 1:00 pm. Life with a newborn is both physically and emotionally taxing, and for a runner mom the prospect of getting back her running fitness or simply just getting out of the house for a quick sanity shuffle may, at times, seem unthinkable. But take heart: It is possible. Here’s how to fit running into your life as a new mom.
1. Get the go-ahead
The most important thing to do before making a postpartum running comeback, is to get the go-ahead from your physician. Your body has been through a lot during both pregnancy and childbirth and not allowing it sufficient time to heal and recover may lead to injury and delay your comeback even further. Most women get the go-ahead to ease into a training program six to eight weeks after giving birth, but this is just a very general guideline. Make sure to check with your caregiver what is safest for you.
2. Ease back into it
Returning to running after childbirth often feels like you’ve never run a single step in your entire life. But be patient. Expecting to perform at pre-pregnancy fitness and speed levels right after giving birth is not only unrealistic, but it is also sure to lead to frustration and possibly even injury. Find a conservative “couch to 5k” program that incorporates the run/walk method and stick to it. Taking walk breaks may seem discouraging at first, but will safely get you to running a 5k non-stop before you know it. Then build it up from there.
3. Get help
It’s okay to want and need some me-time from time to time. And you’ll soon discover that taking me-time benefits not only you, but your entire family. So don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make a weekly date with grandma/your bestie/your partner and take a quick hour to go for a run/walk as well as an undisturbed shower afterwards. The combination of fresh air, sunshine, alone-time and endorphins will leave you refreshed and ready to tackle the next round of pajama drilling with new vigour.
4. Take baby with
If your support structure isn’t able to help you work running/training breaks into your schedule, then don’t despair. Invest in a good jogging stroller and take baby with you on your runs! After getting the thumbs up from your pediatrician, usually when baby is six months old, you can take him/her with you in the jogging stroller. Not only are stroller runs with your little one a great way of spending quality time together, but it also doubles up as a challenging, full body workout. It will soon become the highlight of your week!
5. Listen to your body
Making exercise a regular part of your life as a new mom takes determination and commitment, but can be hugely beneficial on so many levels. It’s important, though, to make sure that you use running as a tool to benefit you through this chapter. Don’t let it become an additional stressor.
Now is not the time to chase a new PB or tackle that bucket-list Iron Man event. Listen to your body and let it guide you as to how much it can handle. If you simply feel blue and overwhelmed (we’ve all been there!), chances are that a quick run/shuffle around the block will help you clear your head and make you feel 100% better. But there will also be days with zero sleep, bouts of colic or the onset of teething when you and your body simply can’t handle additional physical activity. And that’s okay. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with opting for a nap instead of a run when your body really calls for it.
6. Keep sight of the bigger picture
And lastly, perhaps the most important thing to do, is keep sight of the bigger picture. Sure, not being able to run at your desired speed/frequency/duration straight away may be frustrating, but this too shall pass. Don’t let the joys of this new chapter pass you by. Focus on the good things and do what you can do. You’ll be back to your old running self before you know it!