Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Postnatal Running: First Impressions

This is going to be rough. I have come back from time off before, but this time I feel out of shape in an entirely new way. While I did run until 38 weeks pregnant, the last few weeks amounted to little more than a few fast walks. Then, I took a solid 4 weeks off - the 2 before delivery and the 2 after.

My first run was 1.5 miles 2 weeks after delivery. I deliberately kept it easy and short. The first thing I noticed, stepping out the door, was how light I felt. Having lost almost 20 lbs since the last time I ran, I felt awkwardly light on my feet. That sensation only lasted about a half mile, but it was quite interesting!

Since then I've done a handful of 3-4 mile runs. I plan to try and bump that up a bit this weekend, when I'll be 6 weeks postpartum. Part of me wanted to wait until my 6-week checkup before increasing the pace or distance.

My last four runs have been with the baby girl in our new BOB Ironman stroller. I'll do a detailed review soon, but suffice it to say that I love this thing. It's best feature is the freedom it brings. I don't have to try and run early in the morning before my husband leaves for work or in the late afternoon, during the baby's fussy period. It's a sanity saver!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pregnant Running: Recap

Now, four weeks after delivering my daughter, I'm ready to really start running again. As I stretch my (out of shape) running legs (another post to come on that!) I am reflecting a bit on my pregnant running experience.

First, I am so glad that I was able to run relatively comfortably throughout my pregnancy and that I didn't have any complications or risk factors that prevented me from running. This is not always the case!

Summary of my running during pregnancy:
First trimester: I kept my distance the same (about 12-15 mile long runs) but reduced my pace and removed any speed work (which I rarely did anyway). My husband and I ran a half marathon when I was 13 weeks pregnant.
Second trimester: My weekly distance and long runs started to come down (7-8 mile long runs). Month 5 was pretty much a wash with vacations, etc, but months 4 and 6 were still consistent. While I was doing much shorter runs, I actually ran more frequently.
Third trimester: Weekly long runs came down to 5 miles and, in month 8, I started to only run 2 or 3 times a week. Distances continued to come down until I was just doing 2 and 3 mile runs. I finally stopped enjoying running, and decided to break until after the birth, in week 38. During this trimester, I introduced more cross training, including swimming and yoga.

Things I loved about running while pregnant:
- Funny looks and/or words of encouragement from other runners/walkers I came across. I heard everything from "Good for you!" to "Look at that pregnant chick!". The vast majority of comments I received or overheard from strangers were very supportive.
- New running gear - from larger shirts, to pregnancy running skirts, to support belts, I had a brand new excuse to get more running gear!
- I was able to maintain "some" level of fitness. My post pregnancy runs, so far, have been difficult but not nearly as bad as I imagined they could be.
- I avoided many of the common pregnancy discomforts. This may or may not be related to running, of course. By the steady, not too fast weight gain helped me to avoid stretch marks. I also had very little swelling, little back ache and moderate total weight gain.
- My stress levels were kept under control, helping me to stay relaxed and prepare for the baby.
- While fitness and ease of labor aren't necessarily correlated (even Kara Goucher had a difficult labor! Link) I am convinced that I was able to make it through my long back labor (58 hours) and pushing time (2.5 hours) thanks to the endurance that comes from running. With a posterior position and compound presentation (one arm was across the baby's body, with a hand up by her face) avoiding a c-section was a minor miracle.
- I learned a lot about myself as a runner, and why running is important to me. Unable to focus on improving my speed or mileage during the pregnancy, I found that I enjoyed running just the same. Keeping up with running friends, getting my endorphin fix, and getting some quiet thinking time to myself were wonderful running benefits I enjoyed no matter how fast I went.

There isn't much I would do differently, looking back on my exercise routine during pregnancy. Next time I think I'll introduce more cross training earlier and try to maintain mileage a little longer. Overall, I had a very positive experience running during my pregnancy and would recommend it to anyone who is cleared by their Dr. to do so!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finding my inner OM

Life with a newborn is wonderful, fascinating and stressful. Life with out exercise is just stressful. I made it 11 days.

I know, I need the rest. I also, however, need at least a little exercise. A mom going through endorphin withdrawal is not a happy mom.

So on Wednesday, the newborn safely deposited with the grandparents, I made my way to the post-natal yoga class. Let me just say, pure bliss. It was exactly what I needed to work out some lingering stiffness. The instructor was very attentive to me, knowing I was only ~2 weeks post delivery, and helped me modify a few of the poses to make them easier. An hour and a half away from my adorable yet extremely dependent baby didn't hurt either. I returned a much happier, healthier mommy =)