First off I’d like to congratulate Chrissy and her family on their new addition. It’s such a privilege to be a guest here today while she takes time off to care for her new baby.
In 2005 I became a mother for the fist time. We brought home our son unsure of what to expect, but with our hearts full of love and hope. Those first few months were tough. My baby cried all of the time, he wouldn’t nurse, and, as the weeks slipped by, I became very tired and depressed. We later found out that he a form of epilepsy and some birth defects that caused him a great deal of discomfort. It was then that things turned around because we were able to help him.
Then, two short years later, we were blessed with our twins. We had a 2 year old and newborn twins. I’m not going to lie, it was overwhelming. I share this with you not to scare you or to give you some sad story, I tell you this because I think no matter who you are, no matter how great your baby is, it’s not easy.
Your life will change. Babies are all consuming, and your “me” time becomes very limited. In those early years, I was very busy and I needed to run to escape some of the stress of having three children in diapers. I wanted to go for my run, but sometimes felt so overwhelmed that it was also difficult to leave. Here’s why: if I was barely making it through an hour, how could I expect someone else to make it?
I was sleep deprived and wasn’t thinking straight. Of course someone could take care of them, they would be well rested and fresh, when I was going on a few hours of sleep a night.
With the help of my family, I came to understand how important going for a 45 minute run a few times a week was for me and for everyone around me as well. We made a plan to have a baby sitter come in so that I could get a break. If I had to do it all over again, I would have started with this plan earlier. I do understand that not everyone will have such a demanding schedule when they bring their baby home, and I hope and pray that those of you reading have healthy, happy babies. I think no matter what your situation, getting back into your running routine is not only good for you, but also for those around you.
I’ve put together some tips to help you get back after it:
Getting Back To Running After A Baby
1.Take some time – What I mean by this is to take the time YOUR body needs. The doctors will give you a guideline, but the best thing you can do is to listen to your body. Some will go back sooner and some later, but go back when you are ready. We are all different, and each person heals at various rates. If something is hurting or doesn’t feel right, it isn’t, plain and simple. The opposite is also true, if you feel good, then try slowly getting back out there.
2. Tune out the naysayers – I’m not sure what it is about having a baby but everyone from Aunt Suzy to the next door neighbor will be passing out unsolicited advice. People who don’t run, really do not understand our sport. Many people had their babies 40 years ago – back when Katherine Switzer was being pulled of the course at the Boston Marathon. For some people, the thought of running is foreign to them, and then you throw in the fact that you have a new baby, and this sends them over the edge. Then comes the lecture on why you shouldn’t be running. It’s best to tune some of this out, and try not to take it personal.
3. Run early – When you have a newborn at home, it can sometimes be stressful to leave them with others, even if it’s their Dad. I found that if you schedule your runs early in the morning or during their naps you may be more relaxed and able to enjoy the run knowing they are sleeping and not needing you. I have run with multiple Moms and we all agree, that this works.
4. Find a tribe – Many running groups do their long runs between 7-9am. This can be too late (see number 3). Find another mother or two that wants to run early to be able to get back to their baby and enjoy the day with their family. Gone are the days of spending half a day running on the weekends. You’re more apt to get it done if you wake up at dark o’clock. Mother runners unite!
5. Lower your expectations – You’ve been pregnant for 9 months, your body has been taken over by another human life. You’ve been stretched, pulled, and morphed. You may be overly excited and ready to get your body back and running, however, it’s best to take it slow. Avoid things like speed work and long runs for a while. Refrain from races for at least 6 weeks and maybe longer for some (see number 1). Everyone is different, but if you’re not sure, best to use caution. Build your miles slowly.
6. Enjoy – It’s amazing how a 10 pound human being can completely kick your butt. You might be tired and overwhelmed by being the sole source of food for your baby, so getting outside helps. An hour to yourself can be sacred. Step out that door, try and disconnect, take in the sights and sounds, breath in the fresh air, and enjoy every sweaty step. There might be a few days where you are too exhausted to go, but most of the time you’ll come home feeling energized and more ready to go than if you forgo the run. The first step is always the hardest.
I hope that all of the new Runner Mothers out there find some time each week to step outside and get some miles in. I know that if you were running before baby, you may be super motivated to hit the pavement again. Take some time with your baby, and before you know it, they will in the jogging stroller. Then, you’ll be chasing them on their bikes, and, in a flash they’ll be all grown. As they say, long days and short years, and that is what I wrote about on my blog today– The post is called “Breaking Away” so come and check it out on RunWiki.org.
I want to thank Chrissy once again for having me here today. Congratulations to all the new Runner Mother’s out there.
Lisa McClellan blogs at Runwiki.org, a place for a fitness enthusiasts to explore the spiritual heart of our sport. Runners come from all walks of life – some are slow, and some are fast – Runwiki touches the common thread that binds them. Lisa is a 4 time Boston Marathon qualifier, 2013 Boston finisher, Ultra Marathoner, RRCA Certified Running Coach, Wife to a retired US Navy Diver, and Mom to three kids.
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