“Free to a good home,” I typed on my Facebook home page. “One BOB running stroller. Well-loved.” I sniffled a little as I thought about that BOB, and the miles my girls and I had put in it together. Although I spent a lot of time excited for the days I could run without it, now I’d do anything for my kids to be small enough for just one more lap around the block with the BOB.
With new babies from Tea, Barley and me and Turmeric about to join us, it seems like there’s a Salty baby boom going on! For those pregnant, it’s both an exciting and an unnerving time. All first time moms wonder how their lives are going to change with the arrival of a baby, but most don’t think too much about how their athletic lives will change. But it’s different for us runners. Now a seasoned mother of three, I’d like to share what I lost and gained in running after becoming a mom. Read more >>
Returning to running after baby can be tricky. In an earlier post, I wrote about my experience with an injury while marathon training a few months after I gave birth to my second child. That injury taught me a lot of things, and was quite frankly the slap in the face that I needed if I was going to take my running more seriously. One of the most important lessons I learned from the injury was that recovery is just as important as running. Your body needs a break and time to repair itself. If you want your body to work with you, you need to treat it right.
Here is a bit more more about the lessons I learned and the practices I apply to my recovery and running strategies today!
I’ve run the Boston Marathon twice, once in 2014 and then again in 2016. Both times, I ran my qualifying race a few days before finding out I was pregnant. And both times, with the amount of time between qualifiers and Marathon Monday, I went to Boston while breastfeeding an infant. (I got smart this year and opted for the BAA 5k, just in case!)
It was a blessing and a curse, I tell you! One blessing was that I learned a lot about breastfeeding and racing Boston. In addition to planning out my fueling and hydration stops, I had to consider how I’d deal with the certain engorgement caused by the hours I’d be separated from my baby while waiting in Athlete’s Village and running the race.
I experimented a little and approached how I tended to my boobs at each Boston differently. If you find yourself lactating in Boston, let me offer up some tips, fun facts, and things I learned about breastfeeding and the Boston Marathon. We’ll call it the secrets of the lactating mother runner.
While pregnancy is often what calls attention to pelvic floor muscles, it’s important for all runners to understand this muscle group. Basically, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissue that attach to the pelvis. Together, they act as a sling, or hammock, to support the internal organs of the lower part of the abdomen, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum.
But for runners who have had children or plan to some day, it’s also important to understand how pregnancy affects this part of our anatomy, and the implications of those effects on our running. In addition to supporting our organs the muscles of the pelvic floor are involved with continence, the ability to voluntarily hold in your bodily fluids (read: make it to the bathroom without peeing your shorts).
So let’s explore this muscle system in further detail and learn how it affects your running.
While my number one priority right now is nurturing a healthy and happy baby, I’ve reached the point in pregnancy where I’m starting to think more about postpartum running. Even though I haven’t been running much throughout this pregnancy, I knew at some point my dreams of running further and faster in the future would come back to the forefront of my mind. As a goal-oriented, competitive spirit, it was only a matter of time.
Besides being type-A, I’m also a planner; I like to make lists and charts and set my life up to help myself reach all my goals. I’ve done that for my pregnancy, as I’ve planned and plotted and prepared for everything from labor and delivery to fixing up the baby’s room for her arrival. When it comes to postpartum running, now it’s time to start planning how I’ll get runs in with a baby when she and I are ready to go. Read more >>
Sure babies are cute, but they do some ugly things to our runner bodies. As I explained in my intro post, I didn’t train for a marathon until after I had my second child. Like many eager new running moms, I fell victim to “too much, too fast, too soon” after giving birth. I thought at seven months postpartum I was well past any potential injury related to labor and delivery, but I was wrong.
The bright side? I gained an increased awareness and understanding about what my body needed to stay strong and support a heavy training load. I especially learned a lot about my core and pelvic floor, which were perhaps the parts of my body most impacted by pregnancy and childbirth and, perhaps worse, the parts I most neglected.
I gave birth three and a half months ago and I ran a marathon. Say what? A marathon? Yes, you read that right. All that talk about easing back into it after having a baby, and not rushing anything to avoid injury? I really did mean it. And I have been following my own advice. But I did just somewhat randomly run the Hilton Head Island Marathon, three and a half months postpartum. And, spoiler alert, I randomly won.
Let me explain.
I am of the age where many-many-many women in my life are having babies. I think I have had a friend, family member, or acquaintance give birth every month for the last two years. My little spit-fire, Alora is four already and I will say I am very, very-very-very-VERY, content she is past the infant stage.
Since her birth, I have trained consistently, avoided injury, and included my daughter in my running routine. I have also PR’ed at the 10k, half-marathon, and full marathon since her birth.
In four years, I’ve experienced a lot, made mistakes, did some things right, and learned a lot about running, motherhood, and myself. Read more >>
Contrary to Shalane Flanagan’s cookbook title, my advice for women returning to running after having a baby is to Eat Fast and Run Slow.
Multiple Salty moms have given advice about returning to running after having a baby. I’d like to offer an additional perspective, framed in the context of a loose training plan. Loose because after having a baby your body will literally be loose! But, more seriously, loose, because as with all aspects of running and postpartum recovering, there is no one-size-fits-all plan.
The thing with us is, that while we know we have to be flexible during the postpartum period in consideration of both our body’s and family’s demands, many of us crave the structure that brings along the hope that we’ll be as fit as we once were. That’s the purpose of my Eat Fast/ Run Slow plan: to provide a general framework for developing your own training strategy, while maintaining the flexibility postpartum life demands. Read more >>
Which is harder: going through labor or racing a marathon? Why is this an age-old question? Maybe people compare them because they seem like similar events. Both require dedication, as well as physical and mental stamina. They take months of preparation and are an accomplishment to finish. Now that I have run over a dozen marathons and given birth to three kids, I realize there’s no comparison!
Birth is a pretty common occurrence and apparently, we humans were born to run. Billions of women around the world have delivered throughout time, it can’t be that hard, can it? My sister, who is not an athlete, delivered three large babies without pain medication. My dad, who has obviously never had a baby, is running ultras in his 70s. Both advised me labor wouldn’t be an issue compared to my running experiences.
Not everyone can run a marathon, and certainly not everyone can run a fast marathon. So that must be the harder physical event, right? Oh, I was so wrong! Read more >>
After taking 2 weeks completely off to recover and do nothing except nest in baby mode, I was ready to start running again. I started at 2 weeks with both my other children, and looked forward to starting the process of slowly getting back into shape. I’ll emphasize that my main goal at this point is just to fit in what I can, taking things slow and building back gradually to avoid overdoing it or ending up with an injury down the road.
Saturday: 2 mile loop. Felt surprisingly good! Although my stomach isn’t close to back to normal, it’s getting there, and it didn’t feel too jiggly while running! Although having boobs was the worst part of the run!
Sunday: 2 mile loop w/ baby in stroller
Monday: 3 miles Reservoir Park. This run made me realize how incredibly weak my core is. It felt hard to lift my legs on the uneven surface, and even though I was running slow, felt very weak and like I had no power.
Friday: 2 mile loop.
Decided I need to make a dedicated effort to do core/strength work. I never fixed my diastasis recti from last pregnancy, so can only imagine how bad it is now. I’ll do what I can now, and when I go in for my 6 week checkup, will ask about getting to a PT.
Tuesday: 1 mile run/walk w/ my 4 y/o while pushing the double stroller to/from the playground. At the playground, did 30+ minutes of core/strength exercises, like lunges, planks, dips, etc.
Wednesday: Amazingly sore from my strength exercises yesterday! Not surprising since I haven’t done anything except run over the last 10 months, and even took time off from that. Ran 30 minutes on the treadmill at 10 minute pace.
Thursday: 30 minutes on a hilly loop.
Saturday: 4 miles pushing baby in stroller, 10 minutes of light core/strength work (finally getting over my soreness from Tuesday!
I came on board Salty Running late last year to share my experiences with returning to running after recovering from a Cesarian birth. I shared my first few training logs and three posts about running and C-section recovery:
Now that it’s been a year, I wanted to share my experience with racing after a C-section too. I ran three marathons during my daughter’s first year: a half and two full marathons. Before I had my daughter, I managed to get my marathon best down to 2:57. My running goal after having her was to get back as close to that time as I could, if not exceeding it! Read more >>
A friend of mine told me that every day after a c-section you feel 100% better than the day before. Well, I have a lot of “100%’s” to go until I feel decent again, but she was right. Every day is 100% better than the day before… UNLESS I overdid it the day before, in which case I take one step forward and a half step back.
I’ve had a lot of improvement this week though. The best part was realizing that I can stationary bike at the gym without feeling pain in my incision. The trick is to set the bike with just enough resistance that I can pedal solely using the power of my leg muscles, hence sparing my core. I also found that if I kept my pedal rate about 70 RPMs, that was just about right (any faster and I could feel my core starting to engage, which is what I was trying to avoid). Read more >>
With cesarean deliveries accounting for about one in every 3 births, many of us soon-to-be or new running moms will find ourselves facing a return to running after a c-section. It is my goal to help you make your running comebacks as soon as and as smoothly as possible!
Last week, I questioned the standard c-section recovery recommendations, which require 6-8 weeks off running. I believe it is acceptable to at least question this advice if you are a seasoned runner and have an uncomplicated c-section.
This week, I want to discuss how other factors about your c-section may affect your return to running.
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