Postpartum Running

Let’s get this out there first thing: I never, ever thought I would be able to write about postpartum running. I would call myself an avid runner before pregnancy. I ran several smaller races, 2 half marathons, 1 full marathon and then ran 5-6 miles for fun a few days a week. I loved running. I even ran up until I was 34 weeks pregnant. I knew I wanted to run after I delivered Archie so I had a goal to run my first half marathon in April 2013, six months after delivering, so I knew it was up to me to become the postpartum runner I desired to be.

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I went on tons of walks within my first 6 week period with Archie but grew more and more nervous about running again. I recruited my best friend, Allie, to start running with me in November when I got the all clear from my doctor, and believe me, that first run back was not so hot. I bundled Archie up in the stroller and I made it my goal to run half mile increments to build back. The next week, I wanted to run in mile increments with breaks in between. This worked considerably well building up to 3-4 miles non-stop but it was hard. I was breathing heavy, felt like I was glued to the pavement and just had a hard time but it got better each run.

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January rolled around, I registered for the half marathon in April and sat down for coffee with Allie and to map out our training schedule. We set a goal to run a sub 2 marathon, hoping for 1:58:00-2:00:00 to be our finish time, which was a 9:09 minute/mile pace for 13.1 miles.

My previous two half marathon times were 2:08 (April 2011) and 2:02 (Nov. 2011). I wanted to prove to myself that I was faster and stronger after having a baby than I was before.

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We decided to train 3 days a week, one tempo run, one track workout and one long run. Our other friend, Kate, got dragged into our little plan as well so two mornings a week at 6 a.m., we would bundle up in 20-40 degree weather and go run. Then we would hit up our long run on a weekend day, usually on a Sunday. I did take Archie on a couple of training runs when I absolutely had to, but for the most part he was either still snoozing in the mornings or daddy was home on that weekend day to watch him, which helped a ton with training properly.

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{Following a 9 mile, long training run with the stroller. Baby bear was not mad; just didn’t like looking into the sun for this picture. He slept the majority of the run. Rough life.}

We tried to strictly follow the rules of training from the book, Run Less Run Faster. Our track repeats varied each week but basically we would do a mile warm up, then a series of sprints with .25 mile walk period in between and a mile cool down for a total of usually 5-7 miles.

Our tempo run day was always a 5 mile run with 8:29 minute miles. We sometimes did these at night if we didn’t have a free morning and always stuck close to the pace. I loved those runs! They always went by so quickly and gave us a boost of confidence when we could sustain that pace for that long.

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Our long run days slowly built up starting at 5 miles and we’d increase it by a mile each week until we topped out at 11 miles before tapering. We always ran it a 9:29 minute/mile pace like the book advised and finished our long runs proudly.

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Race day came and we were nervous, excited, scared, etc. We actually stayed pretty quiet during the race except for me calling out our splits or pointing out random things we saw. Towards the end we had to start pushing ourselves to maintain pace and not slow. We had only hit 2 miles over a 9 minute pace so I knew we’d meet our goal but I wanted to push a little harder.

We crossed the finish line in 1:56:57. An average pace of 8:56 minute/mile. We three were thrilled! Just thrilled! We not only met our goal but surpassed it! And I PR’ed by over 5 minutes which was huge for me and my running mindset being postpartum.

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I think it was key for me to start back slow and build back up like I did right when I got back into it. If I would’ve started out hard and fast, I feel like I would’ve given up in the beginning. It was hard running those first several runs after not running for a while and running not carrying a human in my belly. I had to learn to have a different posture, breathe differently and allow myself some grace to take my time building back up. And I couldn’t have done it without these gals beside me the whole way.

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Now that it’s all said and done and I’m back in the groove and awaiting my next half marathon next spring, I can honestly say I feel stronger after having a baby. If my body can carry a human, deliver a baby and then make milk to sustain its life, then it’s strong enough to let me push it a little more when I run.

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I realize I didn’t talk about breastfeeding and how I juggled that while running. Is this something you want a post about?

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Are you a runner? Have you had kiddos yet? If so, how do you feel differently running now then you did before you had kids?

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13 thoughts on “Postpartum Running

  1. Kate

    YESSS!!! Gosh, you were a boss Lauren. I’ll never forget some of those long runs with the stroller. You were incredible. Some of my favorite memories!!

    Reply
  2. Andrea

    Archie is adorable!! I have a 2 year old son, and I still don’t really feel like I’ve gotten my running fitness back. I had my son in August, and ran a half marathon the following June…but oh my gersh, it was awful. You described it perfectly as “glued to the pavement”! Amazing job with the PR though!! I really need to try tempo runs…every runner I know swears by them…now, to find the motivation πŸ˜‰

    -Andrea

    Reply
  3. Allie

    I agree with Kate!!! Training is so much better with great friends beside you. Or in front of you, as Lauren usually was πŸ™‚ Seeing these pictures kind of makes me shudder… I can’t imagine doing those long runs right now!!!

    Reply
    1. Lauren @ The Highlands Life Post author

      Girl, you are too funny! You make it seem like I was flying like the wind. πŸ™‚ I couldn’t imagine running these long distances this summer but now that it’s cooling down, it makes me sort of have the itch again. You and Kate up for it?!

      Reply
  4. Gabrielle

    I would love a post about breastfeeding and running! I have a four month old and am exclusively breastfeeding. I want to start running again, but I don’t want it to interfere with my milk supply.

    Reply
  5. Katie

    My sister-n-law and I both ran a half marathon in December after having babies in June and August!! It was very very different running after having these babies! I agree “glued to the pavement” is the perfect description! We both exclusively breastfeed during the training too. Our supply did drop slightly so I would LOVE to hear how you did it Lauren!! We both did continue to build our supply back up and nursed to 1+ years and cut back our running once we realized our supply was down- id love to hear your thoughts/recommendations though πŸ™‚

    Reply
  6. Kristen

    Woohoo! Half marathon… never will that be used with my name in the same sentence. I just did a post about a 5k today. Now, that’s an accomplishment for this full time working momma!!

    Reply
  7. Elsabe

    I tried forever to run before I had babies but never got past feeling “glued to the ground.”(loved that analogy btw) But since babies, I have a ton more flexibility and stamina. I’m just starting back to running almost 18 mo postpartum (way behind but better late than never!) I’m doing couch to 5K and my hubs is doing it too so I’m not alone and today I reaizes while running with the rabbits in the pre-dawn light: I. Am. A. Runner!! And I’m enjoying it! How awesome!
    Ps- you are kick-ass sister. Way to go!!

    Reply

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