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My Postpartum Running Journey

I started my blog in December of 2014, when our youngest child was nine months old, so while I kept track of my running mileage on Daily Mile, I didn’t start sharing it publicly until I started my blog. I know that for me, each time I had a baby, I’d look online for any information I could find about returning to exercise during the postpartum period but I really didn’t find a whole lot. So, I thought I would share my postpartum running journey here!

Callum was born just after midnight on March 3rd, 2014, but I had been in “labour” since March 1st. I started bleeding, so Andrew and I headed to the hospital where they admitted me. I was already 3-4cm dilated, and my other deliveries had been swift, so we thought this one would be too. Not so. Despite being nearly 4 weeks early, Callum was nearly 8 lb. I was about to start pushing when his heart rate dropped dramatically so the doctor pushed the emergency red button on the wall, and said to me, “Susan, your baby’s struggling so you need to give the push of your life right now and get him out.” One push, and he was out.

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For the first week, I did nothing. By the Wednesday of the second week (March 12th) I was able to run a slow 5 miles. I so clearly remember that run! It was tough, but euphoric. The fresh air felt unreal. I ran 7 miles on Thursday, 6 on Friday and 5 on Sunday. By my third postpartum week I ran a whopping 50 miles for the week (a long run of 12 miles on Sunday, March 23rd).

It looks like I consistently ran 50 miles for the next several weeks (with a 70 mile week in my 5th week postpartum) and by May 2nd, I ran my first 20 miler. By 6 months postpartum I was consistently running 70 mile weeks.

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Now, obviously this isn’t for everyone. BUT. Most stuff out there is so incredibly conservative just because of the nature of the whole scene. I mean, you’ve got a brand new baby, a new body, major hormones, breastfeeding issues (needing to keep up the supply), that most people tend to err on the side of caution. WHICH IS GOOD. But caution looks different for each person and not just for each person but for each postpartum experience (there are so many variables!) so there is no right or wrong way to do it, and there really are no rules to follow (except obvious ones, made by your doctor or whatever, if you’ve got shit going on) so it’s up to you and me to listen to our bodies and go with it!

Did anyone new stumble upon this blog post while searching for postpartum exercise tips? Do you have any questions or comments for me? Did I freak you out?

 

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Amy Lauren S. November 23, 2016, 4:27 pm

    Medical professionals will always be conservative but most doctors don’t understand the level of running someone like you does. Heck, they don’t understand the level of running I do, and I’m not even fast and don’t run a lot. You say runner and the doc thinks you’re someone who runs a mile with your dog every day or something, not someone who runs 70 miles per week (or even my 45-50). Everyone’s stories are different and everyone can work out at different levels. You have to listen to your body and stop when it feels bad, yes… but if your body is telling you that you can do more, then maybe you can…

    And that’s when too many people suddenly stop listening to their bodies ;).

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 23, 2016, 6:17 pm

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Amy. You are always good for really good feedback and I appreciate you so much! Your comment reminded me of what my physiotherapist told me the last time I saw him. He said that runners, while super in tune with our bodies, are really good at ignoring the pains and niggles that come with tough workouts. While it can be a good thing (we get faster and fitter) it can also be to our detriment because we end up ignoring IMPORTANT pains and niggles.

      So, okay, now this is going to be a giant generalization, and please forgive me for this, but most pregnant non-runners would avoid any type of exercise that hits a 3-5 out of 10 on the tough scale, whereas a pregnant seasoned runner would be more likely to push themselves into the 6-7 out of 10 range. There are two bad things that can happen: a pregnant non-runner can have an unhealthy pregnancy because they’re scared of exercising, and a pregnant runner can have an unhealthy pregnancy because they push themselves TOO hard. Same goes for the postpartum period.

      Pretty much, it’s all a shit show, which parallels parenting quite nicely, actually. Makes complete sense.

      • Amy Lauren S. November 23, 2016, 6:58 pm

        I’ve heard things like “When in doubt, sit it out”, and I understand that. I ran for the first time in over a week on Monday due to this injury, and it was uncomfortable. It didn’t feel good. I told a friend- who is a runner- and she said “Well, don’t run anymore this week”.

        The thing is, this sport is uncomfortable. Sometimes, running hurts. “Hurt” is a part of this sport- but there’s also a difference in hurt and injury. I ran a 5K a few Saturdays ago that I probably shouldn’t have run, but like you said, I think we can get “conditioned” to the hurt and discomfort and that makes it tough to recognize when a pain is really an injury and when an injury is worse than you might initally think.

        • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 23, 2016, 7:12 pm

          EXACTLY! There’s a fine line between good hurt and bad hurt (injury). I’ve even run right through injuries, only because I knew I could. I’ve got such a finger on the pulse of my pain threshold, I swear that I do. I mean, look at my (injury) track record (or lack thereof). I’ve got how many years of long distance running under my belt and how many injuries? Not even enough to write home about. My biggest injury to date was my broken toe, and that was from kicking the shit out of the running stroller in a rage haze; it had nothing even to do with running.

          But yeah, I mean, I do hesitate to tell people to just go balls to the wall, especially when they’re growing/feeding another human. You gotta do the right thing for you. For me. It’s gotta be worth it at the end of the day.

  • Helly November 23, 2016, 8:08 pm

    I’m naturally a conservative so when my doctor said to wait 6 weeks I did, and then ran a 5k the day I hit the 6th week 🙂

    You’re such a bamr.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 23, 2016, 9:15 pm

      Ha ha! I love this. Is a BAMR a bad ass mother runner? YASSSSS.

  • meredith (The Cookie ChRUNicles) November 24, 2016, 3:17 am

    you are my hero. the only running I did for almost 3 years after my son was born was chasing him! lol. I picked up a weight after my 6 week post partum appointment and quickly put it down. I just wasn’t ready. I had the jogging stroller but most of the time I ended up carrying him and pushing the dumb thing back home. I was so afraid of the lactic acid or whatever they scared me about building up in my milk which could cause him to get even fussier than he was that I think that’s what stopped me more than just how tired I was to even think of running. it all worked out okay for me though! I don’t look back and regret it. I think I was more in shape them taking care of a baby and nursing than now. ha! I did a lot of strolling walking though! I don’t think I sat down until he started preschool

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 24, 2016, 6:29 am

      There are different types of workouts, and although my runs lasted say, 45 minutes, your walks probably went on for hours! So, tomaytoe, tomahtoe.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home November 24, 2016, 4:20 am

    I am amazed at how much things have changed in such a short time. When I was pregnant with my now 19 year old, women were told not to run more than a couple of miles and not to get their heart rate above 140. WTH? Definitely not evidence-based. Thankfully, things have changed and now women can keep going with their activities as long as they listen to their bodies. Same with recovery after a baby. If they were in good shape before, there’s no reason not to bounce back quickly!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 24, 2016, 6:29 am

      Yes, my oldest is 16 and it was a lot more conservative back then, too. I guess people were understandably nervous because there hadn’t been a whole lot of research done. Knowledge is power!

  • Mackenzie November 24, 2016, 11:18 pm

    I am far away from having kids, but I always love reading these types of posts because they are so real. I see it is possible to actually go for a run during those times, it just takes your own motivation! Thanks for sharing your story!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 26, 2016, 1:52 pm

      Hey, no problem! Thanks for leaving me a comment! And yeah, I mean life is full of adversity and challenges, things that keep us from going for a run (or whatever it is that we “should” be doing) but seeing the big picture, how taking care of myself will only benefit my kids in the long run, keeps me motivated to stick it out.

  • Ana November 25, 2016, 6:14 am

    Wowzerz! You are amazing! I could barely move after giving birth!

    How did you balance the food/ running /breast feeding? When I breasted, I was constantly hungry, and had to eat every 2 hours. Did you get extra hungry ?

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 26, 2016, 1:50 pm

      I ate WAY more when I was breastfeeding than when I was pregnant. I would often (probably every night) eat something in the middle of the night when I got up to feed him. I don’t think I have too high of a metabolism, just because I have noticed over my lifetime that I don’t eat a whole lot compared to most people my size, and compared to most runners. So although I ate more, it still wasn’t like, mass quantities or anything.

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