Thinking about having a baby?
My good friend, let’s call her Susie, shared her thoughts following the completion of her first race seven weeks after becoming a mom. “The four-mile Thanksgiving race is a family tradition. I started not knowing my plan, but ended up feeling great and running the whole course,” she said. A little over two weeks later, she won her age group in a 5k race.
Susie has been running for as long as she can remember, often to stay in shape for other sports. When offered college scholarships in cross country, basketball and soccer, she chose cross country and participated on a division one cross country and track team for four years. She qualified for Boston in her first marathon in 2006 and won the Water to Wine Half Marathon in Sonoma, California in 2013.
An engineer by training, she married at 26 and always knew she wanted a family. Four years later, following a summer of hard training and “pre-baby fun,” she and her husband agreed they were ready. Their son was born last October.
During the first four months of pregnancy, Susie ran comfortably, keeping her heart rate under 140 bpm. “During months five and six, it got harder. I felt I needed to keep running to stay sane, but eventually my body told me it was time to stop.” She began taking long daily walks.
“My running friends swear that running made their deliveries easier. I don’t know, but I think it helped with focus and ‘getting down to business,’” she said.
A day or two after Susie came home from the hospital, she resumed walking. With her son strapped into a front pack, she gradually added time to her walks and within a week was up to an hour. Her first post partum run after five weeks consisted of ¼-mile run/walk intervals for three miles, a regime she adjusted as she became stronger. Her runs have been on a treadmill unless her husband is home and she can run outside, a welcome alone time.
Now nearing the end of a 12-week hiatus from her job, Susie will soon have to balance parenthood, work and running. She hopes to run at lunch, “because when I get home, I want to hang out with my little dude.”
She says there’s advice everywhere about running while pregnant but not much about getting back into shape after delivery. She did quote one runner’s blog that suggested exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor, and wearing pads under your running bra and black shorts or tights. Otherwise, she’s been on her own.
Her advice is to keep your sessions, whether running or walking, enjoyable. “Don’t overdo it and get hurt.”
Current goals, in addition to getting back into her clothes, include running for enjoyment. She hasn’t yet set her sights on any major races yet, but she’s admits to a competitive streak that will have her choosing an event to shoot for soon. “First I need to see how going back to my job and training are going to work out.”
As for parenthood, she and her husband plan at least one more child. “I’m loving it,” she said. “There’s nothing like parenthood.”