1. Walk first!
I know this is hard for some people. Myself included. If I hadn’t have found Expecting and Empowered you better believe I would have been lacing up the day of my 6-week appointment for a 3-mile loop. And you know what, I probably could have powered through it. Not realizing that my insides needed SO MUCH MORE TIME to heal.
A friend of mine put it this way and it helped me a lot. When the placenta detaches from the uterus it’s the size of a dinner plate. That’s the size of the wound that needs to heal on the inside. Just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Krystle (from E & E) recommends not running until 12 weeks post-partum OR until cleared by your own PT.
Also, its good to check if you have any prolapse before beginning. I was “cleared” at 6-weeks PP from an OB but when I visited my PT she found I did have a slight prolapse of my bladder and uterus (aka they had descended from where they should have been). If I had jumped back into running right away there is a high chance I would have caused it to worsen.
2. Retrain your brain and core how to breathe/ contract.
My PT is not a runner (she’s a cute little former gymnast with baby bangs and Austin flare), but she asked me, “do you breathe in rhythm when you run?”. I had to think, “like 3 steps inhale, 3 steps exhale? Only when I’m running fast enough to need to.” Well, time to start! I started practicing without running,
“Inhale– relax the pelvic floor. Exhale-contract the pelvic floor”.
This took some work, honestly. Then I had to translate it to my running stride. Wow, I’ve been running for how long without this type of core engagement?! It takes a lot of concentration. Aka, I haven’t listened to a podcast since restarting…but I think my upper body form has improved.
You know I’m a little type-A. I love plans, check-lists, marking things off. I think my PT could tell. “I’m going to give you a return-to-running plan to follow” Aka… “I know its going to be hard for you to go slow but if you have a list of how to progress, I know it will be easier for you.”
1 min run / 5 min walk… 5 cycles
1 min run / 4 min walk…5 cycles
1 min run / 3 min walk…5 cycles
You get the idea. Until I could complete the “workout” without peeing my pants at all, I couldn’t move on. If I started to leak during the workout, I had to finish with walking. It’s been slow. Sometimes I would try to jump ahead (yes, guilty), only to find I would sabotage the rest of the workout. I finally worked up to one mile straight, then two miles. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve run three miles without walk breaks. Add the stroller dynamic and I have to cut back down to my run /walk cycles…because it takes away from my core contracting and my concentration. Yes, it really takes me a lot of concentration!
4. Find ways to work your cardiovascular system without then running.
During this slow progression, I have missed that feeling or working hard (heart-pumping kinda feeling)! So, I’ve had to find other outlets! Hill intervals on the treadmill and swimming laps have been my go – to. Also, super-setting (doing two exercises back to back 3-4 times though) my strength training gets my heart rate up quite a bit without having to do any jumping or plyometrics.
Here are some other cardio workouts Krystle put together.
5. Don’t give up!
I’ve had to tell myself this a lot. I know, it’s only been five months. But sometimes I feel like saying, “forget it, I like strength training well enough and I’ll probably never get back to where I was.” This is when I bring in external motivation.
- I found a 5k to participate in. Road races are SO FUN. If you have never done one, just try it. There is a reason people get addicted to having a participation medal placed around their neck! I needed a goal, a small goal even, to keep me moving forward.
- I started going with friends. I found a few gals to stroller run with and the change of scenery once a week can totally change my mood about running.
- I watched the Boston Marathon. Even though it was hard for me in some ways (insert jealously emoji)… I knew it would inspire me. It did.
Final thoughts…and a few more helpful tips!
1. Don’t skip strength training.
2. Get a good pair of shoes.
3. Recruit a cheerleader 📣!
2 thoughts on “5 Steps – A Return to Running Postpartum”
I’ve really enjoy your article, thank you for sharing all of this information, I think it’s was exactly what I was needing ❤️ Thank you xxx
So glad to hear!! ♥️ Congrats on being a new mama!!