Yesterday, Sunday May 29, I ran the Ottawa half marathon along with over 40 000 other people running various distances.
Now, I have run this distance before but this year brought with it a new challenge…It was my first race after giving birth.
Baby Samantha was born at the beginning of October and I decided that by January I would be ready to begin my training. 3 months recovery sounded great in theory but reality is a whole different ball of wax.
Lets talk about what really happens when you try to use your body the same way after giving birth…
Disclaimer -*This is where men who are squeamish or women who want to continue believing that their boobs will never sag and that they won’t pee their pants until they are 90 years old should discontinue reading*
Giving birth is a beautiful and liberating experience, in no way am I trying to diminish that with what I am going to talk about. I just wish someone had filled me in on the things to consider before my training began. Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned in my first weeks back to training.
1) Everything about you is now bigger and most of it jiggles.
Feet, legs tummy, breasts everything is bigger it wont be for long but in the beginning it is. So be prepared, don’t try to fit into last training season’s clothes. Instead, splurge on something comfortable and (why not?) stylish to begin. Most times foot size increases during pregnancy sometimes due to swelling so they quickly return to normal post partum and sometimes due to actual growth, up to one size larger is common. Make sure your shoes are comfortable and fit properly.
Hips, legs and bellies are definitely shaking around at this point. Don’t deny it, firm it up. It hurts to run for 30 minutes with everything shaking. My favorite product for this was Spanx . I wore the shorts it kept my belly and butt tame. Again, I am not telling you this because of esthetics, this is about comfort. Speaking of tame the Ta Ta Tamer is a Lululemon sports bra and it is definitely designed to keep the girls where they are supposed to be. Do not underestimate the importance of this piece of equipment.
Remember you are still healing so skin is shrinking muscles are returning to proper orientation, short distances can seem challenging at first don’t be discouraged.
2) Run preparation is more intense.
The days of throwing on your sneakers and a sports bra to get a quick speed workout in are long gone. Going for a run on your own (sans bebe) takes planning and effort.
Finding someone to look after baby is a must. (Alternatively, you can push a running stroller) Making sure you have breast fed just before leaving (there is nothing more distracting then running with full breasts) is an important consideration.
Also, don’t forget to pee. I don’t care how many kegels you did pre-pregnancy you are going to pee your pants if you have a full bladder, and sometimes even if you don’t. Some Kleenex or tissue in your pocket can make this incident a little less uncomfortable. Be encouraged, this too shall pass.
3) Motivation and mindset have changed.
Priorities shift a little when there is a small person in your life. Sleep is different and by different I mean minimal. So, having run time to yourself can be an important moment of sanity, clarity and lets be real…independence.
For the most part running your PB doesn’t seem so important, at least in the beginning. Challenging your body in away you haven’t for 10 or 12 months is accomplishment enough.
Do not compare your distance, time or fitness level to where you were pre baby.
This is an important time to celebrate the success of purely running, the fact that you got into your run gear and got organized enough to hit the pavement.
You will be astounded at how rewarding this is and eventually how strong and empowered you feel. Do not take this accomplishment lightly your newest addition will definitely sense that their mama is not an average lady.
Dr. Cynthia van Hellemond is a new mom and a Chiropractor. She has completed a dozen half marathons and two marathons. She finished Ironman USA in 2008. She has cycled from Vancouver, British Columbia to Montreal, Quebec. She currently practices at Village Chiropractic
in Orangeville, Ontario.
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