This is sort of a continuation of yesterday’s post about running while pregnant, only now we’re moving on to the next phase: postpartum running. I’ll preface it by saying that I’ve never consulted anybody who would know about these kinds of things (you know: doctors, nurses, personal trainers, other runners, other mothers, etc.) before embarking on my get-back-to-running “plan.” I just kind of did it.
After I spent all that effort trying to stay in shape during my pregnancies, it seemed a shame to take much time off after the boys were born and lose that fitness anyway. I wanted to see how my body had held up and what “assess the damage” fairly early on. I think I first went out running at 2 or 3 weeks postpartum. I had stitches with both of them, and by that point I didn’t have any pain and could walk and sit normally. I thought that those were the key indicators that my body was getting back to normal. But the stitches were just one part of my body that needed to heal and get back to normal. I found that out on my first run after Squish was born.
I think it was a Saturday afternoon. It would have been early November. I nursed Squish and handed him over to Micah, then ran out the door to test my legs. I think I half expected to just cruise down the street since I was no longer carrying so much extra weight. Not so, my friends, not so. I was sluggish. And my insides will felt like they were sloshing around. I wondered if my organs were still in the right places. But I kept running anyway. I told myself I’d just go to this landmark or that street and then I’d turn around and go home. By the time I got to the “turnaround point” I felt like I could go a little farther, so I’d give myself another turnaround point, and then another, until it was too late to turn around because I was halfway through my normal route and on my way home anyway.
And then I got home and dry-heaved into the toilet. Actually, that was my second postpartum run, which felt great until 15 minutes after I got home and had a cold drink of water. Go figure. But by the third run my body was feeling tighter and more together and I didn’t feel like I might toss my cookies, either.
Looking back on it, I think that maybe I didn’t need to just pick up right where I left off and bang out 5 miles my first time out. I could have taken it slower. I could have eased into it a little bit more. I could have taken stock of my body with 3 or even 2 miles. But on the other hand, it didn’t hurt me to go out early. At least not that I know of. My body wasn’t completely healed, but if I had waited longer, I would have regressed in other ways and had to regain that strength later.
And mentally it was important for me to get out soon after Squish’s birth. I just needed to know that my body could still run.