I have been so excited to get back in to my normal fitness routine, but I had no idea what it would be like the first couple of days (even weeks) of exercise.
As soon as I got the “all clear” from my doctor to return to exercise I began immediately. I did not jump right into high intensity workouts (and still haven’t), but rather I started slow, real slow.
Like anytime you take time off of exercise for whatever reason, you aren’t going to be as awesome as you were before stopping.
Before becoming pregnant I was in great shape and felt awesome. I knew I would lose my endurance and overall fitness during pregnancy, and I was prepared for that. There are women who can continue to exercise like normal during pregnancy, I was just not one of those women.
The first night I went out for a run I felt awesome. I had a really slow pace, but mentally I felt fantastic. I was just so happy to be moving and sweating!
The next day I went running and I was even slower! The next day, even slower. So then I decided to go to the gym and get on an elliptical instead. Twelve minutes in and I was done! They’ve always been boring to me, but I could usually stick it out for 30 minutes. I didn’t want to just leave after a short 12 minutes, so I did my leg circuit, which did feel awesome.
I tried to go for another run two nights ago and it was dreadful. I do blame part of it on going too soon after eating dinner, and the other part on just not being fully ready to run like I use to.
I walked most of my route, and got to thinking about how other new moms were handling getting back in to running (or any form of exercise). I came up with my own list of helpful tips for running after baby (could also be used for people just getting in to running).
Before I went out for my first run I told myself I had no expectations, and that I just wanted to get outside and run (lets be real, it was more of a very slow jog). Having expectations (especially really high ones) can set you up for failure when you are just getting back into the swing of things. I had people ask me when I would start running, and if I would “just run three miles” at first. Ten months ago I might have said “absolutely, three miles would be great.” Um, but after having a baby and taking six weeks off, 1 mile is great. It isn’t that other people expect you to go run a longer distance, they just are curious, or trying to have a conversation with you (in my opinion and situation). If I had left the house thinking three miles, I would have been sorely let down and frustrated. I was able to run 1.6 miles and I was thrilled with that.
Why is it that you want to get back to running? For me, this is important because I like having a motivating factor for most things I do. I love running, and that is usually motivating enough. However, I cannot wait to get back into racing, so that is my motivation. I want to run a fall marathon next year, and possibly a spring half marathon this year so I am motivated to work towards that.
Goals and motivation really go together. My motivation is also fueled by my goals, and vice versa. I have a goal of running a marathon next year. I also like to set small goals, and I think that is really important, especially when you are getting back into something. A current goal of mine is to run two miles on Saturday morning. Maybe next week my goal will be 2 1/2 miles. Having small goals is great because they are much easier to achieve.
You are not going to be able to run the same speed/pace as you did before (unless you are a superhuman). Your body went through something traumatic, and while six weeks off seems like a long time, it really isn’t. Your body uses a lot of energy to heal, and is most likely still healing. My doctor told me to start slow (no speed work) for the first couple of weeks. It is also important to know it is perfectly acceptable to run/jog/walk at a snails pace. The last time I went out for a jog I looked at my Garmin and the pace was 11:07. That is okay! I know I will eventually get back to a quicker pace, but everything takes time. I would rather start slow and be healthy, versus trying to run fast and hurt myself.
I love running, so for me it is fun (most of the time!). If running is not fun for you, try something different! There is no way I would want to spend time away from Oliver doing something that isn’t fun. Sure, running isn’t quite as fun right now because I can’t run as far or go as fast, but I know I’ll get there. I am constantly hearing people say how they hate exercising and I just think so myself, find something fun to do! Morgan HATES exercise, but enjoys riding his bike or playing tennis (yes, that is exercise), but he looks at it as something fun to do with people.
Those are just a few of my tips for getting back in to running (or any exercise). Best of luck!