I made the decision pretty early on in my pregnancy to stop running. I was lucky not to suffer with morning sickness, but instead battled constant nausea throughout the day (no actual vomiting) for most of the first trimester. It was made worse by the bouncing up and down that comes with running so unfortunately I decided to put a pause on pounding the pavements until after baby had come along.
Fast forward over a year and I’m so excited to say that running is back on the agenda! My post-baby return to running has been a slow process, but I wasn’t in a rush to put on my trainers. Becoming a mum is such a huge change, both physically and mentally and I wanted to make sure once I felt like getting back to running that I did it properly.
With that in mind, here are some of the things I did in preparation for my return to running.
Physical Recovery: Mummy MOT
When I was four months postpartum I booked myself a Mummy MOT. This specialist postnatal check assesses how your posture, pelvic floor muscles and stomach muscles are recovering after birth. Your trained practitioner will then provide you with exercises and treatment to help in your recovery and return to exercise safely. All mums have a GP check at 6-8 weeks after giving birth, but it’s a very quick appointment that doesn’t go into things in a lot of detail. I also felt that my body was still in the very early stages of recovery at that point, so booking a Mummy MOT for a few months later gave me a more realistic idea of how things were progressing and how quickly I might be able to get back to exercising.
My local practitioner was Florence and as well as being a qualified women’s health physiotherapist, she was really friendly and helpful, and gave me an encouraging picture of things at four months. She came to my house and worked around baby’s needs which was really helpful too! Although she gave me some exercises to do, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been pretty rubbish at doing them as regularly as I should have been. However, I was looking at my return to running as a long-term recovery plan, so finding something sustainable was key and if that meant it took a few more weeks before I got back out there, I was OK with that.
Changing Body Shape: New Kit
When I made the decision to head out for my first run, I almost forgot that my body was a completely different size and shape to pre-baby! I managed to make it work for that first session, but quickly realised I needed to purchase some properly fitting items to make sure I wasn’t going to struggle with chafing, having to constantly faff around with waistbands falling down, or overly bouncy boobs!
- Looking after your breasts after birth
Most women go up a full cup size during pregnancy, and then another cup size after delivery! Therefore a lot of my sports bras and tops don’t currently fit over my new breastfeeding boobs.
I recently had a bra fitting at Bravissimo in Milton Keynes, to get some nursing bras in the right size (highly recommend), so once I knew what size I was looking for I could buy a new sports bra too. I’ve still got the adidas Stella McCartney Maternity bra I mentioned in my pregnancy announcement post, but it’s not the right size for me now. I was also looking for something which offers support for high impact activities like running. Did you know that all breasts move in a figure of eight during exercise, no matter what size, and those on the larger size can move up to 14cms! I’m a big fan of Shock Absorber bras for running so purchased a new Multi Sport bra which is working pretty well so far. I also use my breast pump to express some milk pre-run so I feel a bit more comfortable too.
- Autumn kit for changeable weather
Starting running again in September seemed like the perfect time, with that ‘Back to School’ feeling and the weather starting to cool down. However, it can also be quite unpredictable temperature-wise, so I picked up some new adidas running kit that would suit the changeable weather and help me return to running feeling comfortable, confident and visible as the evenings get darker.
One of my favourite pieces at the moment are the DailyRun 5-Inch Short Leggings which don’t move at all when running, have a pocket on the leg and on the waistband, and are super comfortable. I’m not usually a shorts person when running, but pregnancy seems to have done something to my temperature settings as I’m always hot these days!
I also have the Own The Run T-Shirt in two different colours, one of which is a great fluorescent yellow which will be perfect for evening runs once the clocks go back and the days start getting shorter. Again they’re really comfortable to run in, super breathable and not too tight fitting.
I’ve been out for three runs so far following the Couch to 5k NHS app, which is a great way to return to running after a break as it builds up slowly using a run-walk method. I’m definitely not going out with the aim of chasing personal bests or running fast and furious – in fact, taking a little longer and enjoying having some time to myself is more likely! Running offers great mental headspace, a chance to have a break from the challenges of motherhood, as well as doing something that feels a little like the ‘old me’. I’ll be posting a Progress Update in a few weeks and hopefully aiming for a parkrun or Christmas 5k before the end of the year!
NB: The adidas kit was purchased using a gift card that I was awarded as part of my involvement in the adidas blogger community. As always, all opinions are my own.