At six weeks and six days after giving birth to my beautiful baby girl I finally hit the road again: I went out for my first run! Unsurprisingly, I was euphoric as I laced up my shoes, put on my headphones and headed out. I felt like a dog finally taken off the leash.
As I already wrote in a previous post, I had felt ready to start running again for several weeks. I had had an uncomplicated and relatively easy birth and recovered quite fast from it. I had also been running throughout my pregnancy up to one week before my beautiful baby girl was born, and continued my power walks up until the day I gave birth. So why did I decide to wait?
First of all, I had read about and heard of various women who went back to running a couple of weeks or even less than one week after giving birth, and while some could do this without problems others ended up with injuries in their back, pelvic floor, or hips. Apparently, it takes months for the relaxin hormone to leave your body post pregnancy, leaving you more prone to strains and injuries.
Secondly, while I might have been ready physically, I didn’t feel so emotionally. After spending nine months with my baby, it was hard to leave her to go out for a run. Plus, when you’re just adapting to life with a baby, going out for a run is the last thing on your mind – or at least on my mind. I rather went for a nap in the afternoon.
But the most important reason for me to postpone this first run was that I needed to have something to look forward to once my family would have gone back home. After spending a month with us, they left last Wednesday, and so on Friday I went out for my first run post baby!
So how did it go? While I tried to convince myself to take it easy and go for around 6 kilometers at a leisurely pace, I knew it was going to be hard to restrain myself. The first kilometer went way too fast, and I knew I couldn’t keep the pace. However, I hate starting a run fast and slowing down halfway, so I tried to keep up. My lungs were burning, my stomach aching (I went right after having lunch. Not so smart, but it just seemed the best time as Maria was finally sleeping, or so I thought), and my right side stitching. I couldn’t seem to find a good rhythm as my feet pounded the pavement.
A feeling of guilt came up when I saw numerous mothers with strollers walking around the lake. Was I a bad mum to leave Maria at home with Ahmed and go out alone? I know it’s a classic thought and not justified whatsoever, but I couldn’t stop it from entering my mind.
Following one lap around the lake, I had to make a decision: going back home (running about 6 km) or going for another lap before heading home (running about 10 km). Predictably, I chose the latter, turned around and went for a second lap, totally ignoring my thighs and lungs who were telling me to call it a day.
I ran a total of 10.37 km at a pace of 5:34 min/km – a decent pace but nothing near my normal level, given the amount of effort it took me to run at this pace – and safely made it back to a quiet home, only to find out that Ahmed and Maria weren’t there. It turned out Maria had woken up 5 minutes after I left and the only way for Ahmed to make her stop was to take her in the sling and go out for a walk.
All in all, I am not dissatisfied about this first attempt, and feeling sore afterwards is something I could have expected. We’ll see how long it takes for my body to get used to exercising again. For the weeks to come, I hope to be doing three runs a week, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself and will take it one day at a time. I will try to listen to my body, even if that means going for a nap instead of a run. I will soon write a 2-month postpartum back in shape update, so stay tuned!