What is the best way to ease back into running after you have a baby? It is a good idea to sign up for a race shortly after you deliver? Read these tips from fit mom, Joanna. Joanna Murnan is a healthy lifestyle blogger at Makingmine.com. She lives in Omaha, NE with her husband Jeff, their three month old daughter Eleanor, and Westie pup Ruby. Joanna posts about motherhood, fitness, and her many baking and crafting endeavors. You can connect with Joanna on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
This weekend I took the plunge and completed my first postpartum 5k. It was my slowest finish ever, but my most rewarding race to date.
Three months ago, my beautiful baby girl Eleanor arrived. Her birth was wonderful, but it wasn’t without consequence. A fast labor and delivery left me incredibly sore with a great deal of healing to do. While I happily adjusted to life as a mom (3 am feedings, and messy diapers included), I desperately wanted to regain the normalcy of exercise. And perhaps selfishly, I wanted my pre-baby body back sooner rather than later.
At 6 weeks postpartum, I tied up my laces and went out for my first run. It was much more painful than I could have ever anticipated. Determined not to give up, I continued taking runs for the next two weeks. With no progress or relief in sight, I began to feel defeated and scared that the pain would be a permanent result of childbirth.
I gave up, quit running, and built up mental barrier against exercise. Luckily (and somewhat foolishly) I had registered for a 10k weeks previously. Not wanting to bail on my commitment, I changed my registration to the 5k distance in hope that it would be more manageable. I went to bed the night before the race telling myself that it would be ok if I decided not to show up in the morning.
At 5:00am my alarm went off and I began having an internal conversation with myself. “You don’t really have to go.” “Nobody would know the difference.” “You haven’t run in weeks, what if you can’t even finish?” “What if the pain resurfaces?”
Then I rolled over and saw my daughter sleeping soundly in her bed. What would I tell her? What example do I want to set? What would I say if she asked for my advice in the same situation? With a much needed push from my baby girl, I got up, pumped her a bottle, and headed out to my first postpartum 5k.
In the end, I’m so happy that I showed up to that starting line. It was the first race I’ve ever done alone, and it allowed me time to reflect on my life as a mom – one mile for each month of my baby girl’s life! During those three miles, I realized three truths for finding success in fitness:
1. Be flexible
I knew where I wanted to be: running just as fast, far and comfortably as I had pre-pregnancy. What I didn’t know was the best way to get there. I needed to be willing to be flexible with my plan, back off, and let my body tell me what was right.
2. Find the grey
Life isn’t black and white. I was viewing fitness as an all or nothing endeavor. Either I ran the 10k, or I stayed home on the couch. Seeing the middle ground of a 5k helped me find joy and a sense of success!
3. Take your own advice
I find that I’m much more honest with others than I am with myself. Seeing Eleanor that morning made me think of what advice I would give her. I want my daughter to honor her commitments. Given the same situation, I would ask her “what’s the worst that could happen?” If I had to end up walking the entire 5k, then so be it! It’s more than I did yesterday and a step in the right direction.
I finished the race with my worst time, but the biggest smile. I don’t expect my fitness journey to be easy, but with my 5k barrier broken, I know I’m off to a great start!
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