Return to Running

I found out I was pregnant with our second baby just two weeks after running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. I hadn’t run much since the race and the few times I had gotten out felt exceptionally hard and sluggish. I just chalked it up to still feeling fatigued from the race. In reality, what I was feeling was most likely from those first few weeks of first trimester exhaustion.

My goal was to be able to continue running throughout my pregnancy. I had registered for my fall race before finding out about the baby and it was a race I was really looking forward to. Running isn’t something that comes easily to me and I knew it was going to be exceptionally difficult for me to push through while pregnant, but I was sure going to try!

With our first child I felt great right from the start and had a relatively easy pregnancy . The second time it seemed like I was sick from the minute the test turned positive. I ended up on medication to help control the all-day sickness, but by the time I finally started to feel better my conditioning was gone and starting over at nearly 20 weeks pregnant wasn’t happening. I gave up on my goal to keep running and decided to just pick up again once the baby was born.

3 days before my scheduled c-section

I had a scheduled c-section this time, so I was already anticipating a longer recovery than if I had given birth naturally. My recovery overall was pretty smooth and around the six week mark I was starting to get a little antsy to get moving again. I was cleared by my doctor for physical activity at 8 weeks minus any core work.  I have some ab separation (diastasis recti) that needs to finish healing before I can pick that up again. She gave me the go ahead as long as I promised I would take it slow and not push running if I wasn’t feeling 100%. I started out just doing some work outs that were strength training and some light cardio.  After a few weeks of that I felt ready to give running a try.

I’ve been running again for a while now, and here are a few things that I have learned so far:

Take it slow

My first run was a single mile on the treadmill. I wanted to test how my insision was going to feel and how my body was going to react before I went much farther. It was extremely slow, and I could definitely feel all of the time “off”. The second time I did a mile and a half, and slowly built up from there.

Have reasonable expectations

This has been my biggest hang up so far. My pace has been a few minutes slower per mile than I was running prior to being pregnant. Even though I knew I was going to have to retrain myself, it’s been frustrating to me that my body just isn’t there yet. I noticed early on that if I was pushing too hard that I would have some soreness around my incision the next day. Even though I’m technically recovered, a c-section is a major surgery. With each run my legs are building back up and I know that I’ll eventually get there, it’s just going to take some more time.

Find motivation

To keep myself feeling positive through the frustration, I sat down and picked my first race back. Knowing that I have a training plan to follow, and a race on my calendar helps me when I’m feeling tired, or wanting to ditch a workout. If I hadn’t selected a race, I don’t think I would have pushed myself past a few miles.

The Buffalo Half is my goal race and will be held Memorial Day weekend. I’ll be running the 5k on Saturday in addition to the Half Marathon on Sunday. While I’d ideally like to finish somewhere near my current PR I’ll be happy to just finish the race in an upright position.

Before I started up again I did a lot of research trying to find any information that might make my comeback a little easier. Here are a few articles that I read before I put my running shoes back on:

Running After Pregnancy from Women’s Running

How To Return To Running After Pregnancy from Runner’s World

What’s your favorite way to find motivation?

Have you had to make a comeback after significant time off?

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