This year, Mother’s Day fell on the 5 week birthday of my new son and I treated myself to my first post-partum run. Having run all through pregnancy I cheated a bit on the post-partum rest period and gave myself four weeks of rest instead of the typical six weeks after giving birth. My rest period did involve lots of walking but I was anxious to hit the five week mark and try a run.
By week five, I really am feeling great albeit tired on some days. But on Mother’s Day, I woke up relatively rested, it was a beautiful day and it was time to put on my running gear. I spent the morning nursing, had my coffee, and made sure I had as little milk as possible in my breasts.
Putting on my Garmin and waiting for the satellites to load I felt like a little kid in the driveway, amped up and just waiting to take off running. It was everything I could do to not set out at a full sprint! To be running again, 20 pounds lighter was a glorious feeling. (For those who are curious, I gained 24 pounds and am fluctuating between 4-7 pounds left to lose; I credit breastfeeding for the bulk of the quick weight loss.) My goal was to run my neighborhood three mile loop without stopping to walk.
The first thing I noticed was the absence of pressure on my bladder. This is obvious because I am no longer carrying a child in my belly but the actual absence of that weight and pressure was so incredibly wonderful! My form also felt more relaxed, my stride longer and my breathing more regulated. I expect there to be a ‘re-entry’ to running in which I have to build back up to my preferred speed and work-out routines but this first run indicated to me that I do indeed have some muscle memory coming into play.
However, I did get a bit discouraged to discover that my pace was hovering between 9:30-10 minutes per mile. By the end of pregnancy I was managing a run/walk combo around an 11-12 minute mile but on my Mother’s Day run, I had to swallow the reality that I will not be instantly back to my pre-pregnancy pace which is more like 8-8:3o minute miles.
I recently signed up for the Under Armour What’s Beautiful challenge and posted a very ambitious goal to be running a 7:30 5k pace this summer. My current goal is to run 3 miles 3 times a week for at least two weeks and then start to add a little distance, speed and increase frequency back to 4-5 runs per week. Whether or not this will allow me to get to my goal 5k pace by June 9 (which I sincerely doubt) when the first 5k is on my calendar I just don’t know.
What I do know is that these first 3 miles as a new mother gave me a new appreciation for running, a new appreciation for motherhood and a new perspective on figuring out how to balance it all!
Post-script: I just looked at my Garmin stats from this run and the second 3-miler of the week. My first post-partum run had an average pace of 9;45 and today got that down to 9:26 on the second 3-miler. Progress!