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Last week, Women’s Running posted a question on Twitter:
Mom Runners—how long did you wait after the birth of your child to start running again?
My husband and I have recently discussed when we might try for a third child. Postpartum running, as well as all things related to pregnancy, have been at the forefront of my mind.
My first two pregnancies were fairly smooth and complication-free. I was able to run until the last couple of days (Note: I didn’t run for 4-5 weeks during the middle of my second pregnancy due to some lower back pain). Deliveries were also without issue. I was given the green light from my doctor to resume physical activity whenever I felt up to it.
And so, after the birth of both boys, I resumed running VERY soon after delivery—5 to 6 days. I started with minimal mileage (1-2 miles) and worked up to 5-6 miles of easy, comfortable running within the first couple of weeks before beginning to incorporate some speed work into my weekly routine.
The quick return to running was not about losing the baby weight, beginning to train for a race, or wanting to log high mileage. It was a way to get back into the “normal” routine of running and exercising. It was enjoying that my body was 100% my own for the first time in nine months, and that I didn’t have to worry about taking it easy. Running was about seeing how soon I could return to my routine, because the sooner I returned to running, the more hardcore I was, right?
Running during those first few weeks was just kind of average. I can’t really say that I felt great but it didn’t hurt. So in my mind, since I could run, I should run.
But the truth is I know I didn’t honor or respect my body the way I should have. My body had successfully created, carried and delivered a 7+ pound baby. It had gone through major changes for the previous nine months. And even though my body was no longer creating life, it was still undergoing major changes as it began the process to return to pre-pregnancy conditions, something I didn’t really think about at the time.
Looking back (and looking ahead), it wouldn’t have been the worst idea to take another few weeks off (or more) before jumping back into running. Recover more. Rest more. Relax more. Life was only going to get more hectic so why not enjoy the downtime while I could. Waiting longer would not have negatively affected my training for my goal race and actually may have made me stronger when I began.
If and when my family welcomes a third child, I plan to focus more on enjoying the moment and worry less about getting into a routine or starting the “comeback”—I have the rest of my life to train for races.