Running After Having a Baby – An Exercise in Adjusting Expectations
Have a baby, run a marathon…easy, right? I was 8 ½ months pregnant when I signed up for the 2014 Twin Cities Marathon. I had run marathons before and I had also stayed pretty active throughout pregnancy, so I thought training for TCM after I had the baby would make sense for me. It was two months after I had my daughter (and I got the ok by the doctor) that I started training.
After about a month of barely making it three miles each run, I realized that running a marathon was going to take a lot more training, time, and energy than my body was able to give. It was late summer when I made the executive decision not to run the marathon.
I was disappointed, and felt slightly like a running failure.
Making Necessary Adjustments
Shortly after I made the decision to not run TCM, I signed up for a half marathon with a friend of mine. I was hesitant to sign up for another race, but it was worth a try.
The training runs for me involved one weekday after work pushing the baby in the running stroller, and early Saturday morning runs with friends. It was bare-bones training. There were no speed work outs, no cross-training (unless you count going up and down stairs several times a day while holding a baby, which I do!), but with a new baby, and working full-time, running two-maybe three times a week was all I had time for (and still have time for) in my new routine of life.
I was slower, I was sore, and I couldn’t run as far. I felt like a beginner. I had to adjust my expectations about everything I knew about running… and realized it was OK to give myself permission to do so.
Running after Baby
Running has changed for me since having a baby. It’s no longer a competition where I feel I have to PR every race or meet a weekly running quota because the training schedule says so. It’s time with friends, time with my new daughter (when weather permits here in Minnesota of course), and alone time for me.
In addition to adjusting my goals and expectations, here are three quick/easy tips that helped me get back into running after my baby.
- Sign up for a race (a reasonable distance for yourself) so you have a goal to work toward. You may have to adjust down the road (like I did), but at least you have something on the calendar.
- Recruit a friend. It’s helpful and more motivating to have someone with you on those training runs. Below is my friend Becky who was kind enough to run the half marathon with me.
- Don’t give up! It can feel harder than the first time you ever laced up those shoes, but it does get easier.
The half-marathon I ran in October was great. I was definitely ready to be done at 13.1 and couldn’t imagine running any further. It wasn’t my fastest race, but I know for me at this time in my life, it was quite an accomplishment.
Maybe there will be another marathon in my future, but for now, I’ll just enjoy running where I am at in this season of my life.
If you have had a baby, what was it like “learning” to run again? Share in the comments below.