After having two babies in 16 months, I thought my running days were over. I have previously run over 10 half marathons, one full marathon, and countless smaller races. I knew I wanted to return to running, but just wasn’t sure when I could make it happen. One of my running friends has started up her own coaching business and I reached out for some help returning. We set up a goal, to run a half marathon, and decided the best way to reach it.
In January, I reset all of my previous runs on my Garmin watch so that I was basically a new runner. I tried to clear out all preconceived ideas of how running was before children and just focus on the here and now. *Side note* Since having my two children back to back, I didn’t really get a chance to return to running like I would have liked. When I found out I was pregnant again, I stopped running because I didn’t feel comfortable enough to continue without having a strong base.
So on January 18th, I set out on my first “long run” of this training cycle. It was 4 miles long and I was so nervous about it that my coach recommended I do a run/walk from the very beginning. So, I would run a 5 minute block then walk a minute, so on and so forth. I finished the run feeling SO accomplished and great, but wondering will I ever be able to run that far again?? Fast forward a month of consistent running and February 17th I ran 7 miles at a minute per mile faster than the previous month. Then on May 18th, I cruised through the finish line of my first half marathon postpartum. There are so many things I feel make a difference in running postpartum, so this is just a basic list. I will dive much more in depth with this category in the coming weeks/months.
Find a support system.
Running partners, child care, running coach. Anyone who is willing to help you meet your goal is crucial. Personally these are the three people who helped me. One of my best friends is a strong runner so her and her husband would meet me almost every Saturday and push me to finish my longest runs. It was crucial to finishing the race. I also ran with my husband who is my biggest supporter. He was also huge in the childcare department as he would take both kids Saturday mornings and weekdays so I could run. A running coach helped me bounce back from bad runs, scheduling issues, and life in general!
Have grace with yourself
I cannot cannot cannot stress this one enough. I think this is one of the biggest changes in my running before kids and after kids. Before, if I would have missed a run I would beat myself up about it and feel so guilty. Not, I very rarely DONT miss a run during any given week. Something always pops up, life gets hectic, and I just have to roll with it. I knew going into this race I was not doing anything for time or speed so just having the distance under my belt was great. During a harder training cycle, I will put more effort into hitting all my workouts, but for this one, I was very flexible with myself. Also, going into race day, I told myself if I had to walk for 13 miles, I would walk for 13 miles! That alone helped me feel in the best head space I’ve ever had for a race.
Building mileage for me happened very slowly. I treated this as the first time I was running. I started out doing a run/walk on long runs and just did what I could until I finished. It is about getting out there, getting the miles, and most of all ENJOYING the time you spend out there.
This is something I have chosen to do. Running isn’t mandatory for life, but I enjoy it and it helps me stay in a good head space. Take some time, enjoy your life, and running is there for you when you are ready. If you are wanting to start running after babies, or just for the first time in general, lace up your shoes and go! Run when you want, walk when you want, and it will all fall into place.
This picture was taking somewhere on the course in between miles 6 and 8 by my husband. When I saw this picture and was immediately so proud. Seeing it, I felt like a runner and know even though my time wasn’t anything amazing, I had a great time out there on race day. I chatted with him, made friends on the course, FaceTimed my running partners, and ultimately crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face, which is what its all about.