Planning for Postpartum Running

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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. 

A plan, but not a plan-plan

While I am working on creating my postpartum running plan, I want to preface that with it’s not a training plan. I’m planning to make sure I can get runs in if I want to, not to run this or that many miles or workouts. As for when I start to run again, how fast, or how far, that all remains to be seen and will depend on my physical state after labor and delivery, my baby’s needs, my attitude about running, and how much time I have to work with. But, when baby and I are ready, I want to be able to literally hit the ground running.

The Postpartum Running Insurance Plan

Besides physical recovery, the biggest hurdle to most new parents getting out for a run is finding the time. Upon becoming a parent a runner can no longer throw her shoes on and run out the door on a whim. But, with a little planning, you can make it more likely you can get some miles in when you’re ready and have some time.

Get a Running Stroller

This is probably the first thing most people think of as a resource for getting runs in after having a baby. For everything you could ever want to know about choosing a running stroller, read Parsley’s Guide to Choosing a Running Stroller.

Consider a Treadmill

As running moms like Salty, Pimento, Pumpkin, and most recently Parsley have discovered, having a treadmill at home can help you squeeze in miles when you otherwise might not be able to. Jasmine wrote a decent treadmill buyer’s guide with some good tips on what to look for when shopping for a treadmill.

Also Consider a Gym Membership

Why a gym membership? I’m not talking about any old gym membership, I mean one that offers childcare. This might not be something you’ll use right away, but could come in handy as your baby grows. The first gym to consider for this? Your local YMCA if you have one, because not only might you be able to get a run or strength workout, but your dues could go towards Gym and Swim and other classes for your child too!

postpartum running planTalk to Your Partner

Getting out for a run at your favorite park with your best running friends or alone in the peace and quiet, can be quite a luxury for a runner parent, but assuming your partner is going to be down with this every time you want to go might lead to a few arguments. My partner isn’t a runner, but he has things he’d like to do too. I know that expecting to pass off the little lady to him as soon as he gets home from work every day so I can go get in a run probably isn’t realistic.

Becoming parents is an exciting time, but it also impacts both parents and sometimes it seems there’s never enough time to go around to suit all family members’ needs. And this means that sometimes parents argue about who’s going to watch the kid when. These are good conversations to have ahead of time so you are on the same page about expectations and responsibilities.

Line up the Sitters

Getting a run in can be really easy, when you have family and friends that are begging for time with the little one! Take them up on it once you feel comfortable. It’s good for baby to get to know the other people in her life, and I don’t need to tell you that it’s great for you to get some me-time out on the roads or trails.

Besides grandma, and aunts and uncles, consider sitter-pooling with your friends. Some running parent friends have a group run and play-date, where half the adults go run for the first hour and then the other half go the second hours, as they switch off who watches the babies play. When it comes to other running parent friends, scratch each others backs and everyone gets a run in with kiddos well cared for!

Think about Your Schedule

If you will be returning to work after maternity leave, it can help to think about what your running time options will be: dark o’clock before work, lunch run, a quickie straight from the office before daycare pick-up? Think about what makes the most sense, and to the extent you can, arrange for that as soon as possible to give you a little peace of mind.

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Sure, not all of these things are necessary to keep running after baby. Some of them won’t be worth the expense or practical for you. But, they are all options to consider when thinking about returning to running after becoming a parent.

What did you do to ensure you could run after having a baby?

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A new mom and Upstate, NY resident who loves the marathon, a good beer, and all of the numbers/nerdy things. I write about my journey to a sub-3:00 marathon, training tweaks for improvement, and finding that “running/life balance” unicorn. On tap Next: Maneuvering through motherhood and postpartum running!

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13 comments

  1. My running stoller(s) have been lifesavers many times over. Not just for me having the ability to run, but also as someone else mentioned, getting baby to sleep sometimes.
    When I still worked full time, I tried to maximize my running around working, mostly on my lunch break. That helped alleviate any “mom guilt” because as soon as I walked in the door, I didn’t want to leave my little baby. I also usually ran with her every morning before work. Even though that meant waking us both up early, it allowed me to spend extra time with her and start the day off right.
    I’ve yet to hire a babysitter for a run- I just can’t justify the cost! But I like your idea of having a run-pool with running friends!

    1. I could totally see myself leaning more towards morning/lunch runs so that way when i get home at night..I’m home. As a lover of post-work runs..I don’t see that lasting or being the case once she is here…because I’m going to be more tired from less sleep by end of day and also having something else amazing to come home to (Brian doesn’t usually get home until about 60-90 minutes after me so it’s always worked so well to run during that time). But now, I can come home to both him and her..and enjoy it.

  2. I wish I had this post when I was pregnant, too! Second the stroller and treadmill. And the principle that you do what you can when you can. If that’s 2 miles at lunch, so be it!

  3. You’ve done such good thinking! I think having a conversation with your partner about both of your expectations around child care is sooooo important – not just for running! One of my best friend’s has a hubby who was a competitive squash player. He tried to keep up his daily after work playing when their first was born (after all…baby was breastfed and only wanted mom – how much could he really help, right? *yikes!) and it led to major resentment and issues for them.

    Even personally, I had these visions that I would get up and run each morning before my husband left for work while I was on maternity leave, but by the time I nursed baby and got out the door, it was making him late for work, so that led to issues. Having a conversation is important and knowing it will evolve!

    I run more now that I have kids – but things have changed. I race way less because I can’t justify the big chunks of time away on a precious weekend morning – I’d rather save those for long training runs. Up until the past few weeks, all my during the week running has been by myself so I can schedule it around just my family, rather than training partners, and my long run with a buddy are done super earl on Saturday so we get back in time for kid activities.

    I was fortunate to have a year of maternity leave and my mother was semi-retired. She had a standing Friday morning date with each of my babies, and that’s when I did my long runs for the first while. I loved the solo time each week and she loved the scheduled time with her grandkids.

    1. “I race way less because I can’t justify the big chunks of time away on a precious weekend morning – I’d rather save those for long training runs.” – amen to this!! It’s absolutely a personal/ family decision, but as a working mom I feel like I spend enough time away from kiddo as it is, I can’t sacrifice too many weekend mornings. I have to decide what my absolute priority races are and just do those!

      1. I concur! I also can’t justify marathon-training for the same reason. Being gone for 2 hours is long enough. More than that feels insane with all that we have going on every weekend!

        1. Love that you all say that, I can definitely see racing and being more picky about such coming into play. Making the most of the time I get…and using it wisely!

  4. First – SO excited for you! Stroller and treadmill were lifesavers for me when I had my kids. The stroller was an adjustment, and seemed like a pain in the butt at first, but then I realized it was making me stronger (bonus!). My son was a crappy napper and slept well in the stroller when I was running, so it was a win-win. Treadmill offered a ton of benefits, even as the kids got a bit older – snow? Treadmill! Hurricane winds and rain? Treadmill! I am also a planner, and went through the same approach. We live in the country and I work from home, so a gym with childcare wasn’t really feasible, or else I would have liked that option too!

    1. Thank you!!!!! I can honestly see the treadmill being the biggest one for me, though could be wrong! We also registered for a stroller so that will obviously come in handy. But in general I think with Upstate NY weather, treadmill will be huge. We bought a cheapo one on Craigslist this winter, which will do just fine for a while until I need to upgrade and get back into marathon training-whenever that may be.

  5. This is awesome!! I can vouch for the expectations/reality differential when it comes to your partner being on board with you leaving to run as soon as he gets home. And all those things have been really helpful to me at some point or other. The treadmill in my basement was a huge plus during winters with infants and toddlers. The running stroller seems like a hassle at first, but I grew to love stroller running. The Y is amazing. My kids love it there and have grown up there. I wish I had this post when I was pregnant the first time :)

      1. I never got a jogging stroller because babies are too small to use them during the early months (my maternity leave), and now that I’m back at work, I run too early to take a kiddo along. Once surprise “benefit” of the early sleep deprivation is the fact that once baby is sleeping, waking up super early is totally doable because you’re already getting way more sleep than you were before– I know this sounds crazy, but now I have a hard time sleeping in.

        1. NSU- I have actually heard that from other friends! As someone who is not a morning person, maybe there is hope for me that being a morning running in the future could be feasible!