I managed two more little runs at the weekend – a 2.5-miler and a 3-miler, both very local to where we live so I could stagger home if it all got too much. It’s very early days, but I feel better with each run – both psychologically and physically.
So here are my top tips for getting back into running after having a baby. Bear in mind, I’m no elite athlete; I didn’t run marathons while I was pregnant. I ran (slowly) for as long as I could during my pregnancy; walked a lot; and put away a serious amount of cake.
- Walk before you run. This wasn’t too difficult for me, since I could actually barely walk to start with (quite how Kate Middleton managed to bounce down the steps of the Lindo Wing 24 hours after giving birth to Prince George is beyond me, but everyone’s different!) It took me several days just to pigeon-step to the bottom of the garden. My first “walk” was a slow shuffle to the paper shop, but I built that up to walking about five miles in a single day before I even thought about going for a run.
- Build up your core strength. See last blog post. I’m no doctor, physio or trainer, but I would guess that core strength is fundamental to staying injury-free after some time out of your running shoes, whether because of injury or pregnancy.
- Batten down the milking machines. Seriously, get a good bra – in fact, get two and wear both together. Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, your boobs will probably be a different size compared to pre-pregnancy. And if you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will go up and down like a yo-yo on a daily basis…sometimes the left at a completely different rate to the right. Buying a bra that fits correctly all of the time is therefore impossible. The only solution I’ve found to this is to strap them as close to my ribcage as possible. I’m wearing a Shock Absorber RUN bra (which I bought when I was pregnant, a cup size up from my pre-pregnancy one, but still two sizes down from my nursing bras). I’m also wearing a Nike over-the-head crop top for added strappage. This seems to ensure minimal bounce.
- Go shopping. While we’re on the subject of kit, treat yourself to some stuff that fits. You probably won’t fit into your pre-pregnancy kit; and if you do, it might not look as good as it once did. But drowning yourself in a big square cotton race t-shirt isn’t necessarily a recipe for making you feel good either. Sweatshop seems to have a permanent sale on, and for those in Herts, the Nike outlet shop in Hatfield’s Galleria is a good place for bargains.
- Ditch the gadgetry. So far I haven’t been out with a watch, phone or other GPS device. I don’t really want to know how slow I’m running. I know roughly what mileage I’m doing based on previous experience but I’m not a slave to it. While you’re at it, tone down your music. I’ve binned my usual power tracks and settled on something with an easier tempo. My album of choice at the moment is Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories – destined to forever remind me of Baby’s first few weeks.
- Don’t feel guilty. A few of my Mummy buddies have said they’d feel guilty for having time to themselves and leaving their little ones with other people. I have to say, I don’t. I figure exercise helps my state of mind as well as my physical wellbeing, and that can only benefit the little one.
- If it hurts, STOP! You’re not training for a marathon. There’s no need to push through the pain barrier. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Remember you’ve made a little human being! And your body has gone through one of the biggest ordeals it will ever face. Above all, enjoy it.