I had defined myself as a runner for about three years before I got pregnant with our daughter, Alice. I ran throughout my pregnancy and had full intentions of staying active after Alice was born – and I did. But it wasn’t without a struggle, though.
Kids, as great as they are, always make things just a tad more difficult. So if you’re planning on having kids, have just had a kid, or are expecting one soon, here’s my advice on how to keep on running, even when you’ve got a new little one.
1. After you give birth, give yourself a break.
If you’re about to have your first child, let me tell you something that no one told me: that first month is going to be the worst month of your life. And it’s okay. There’s going to be at least one time that you’re on the floor, bawling your eyes out, and you won’t be sure why. That’s okay. The endless days and nights will end. That child one day will sleep through the night.
And since you’re going through such a traumatic experience, take a break! Give yourself a bit of time to adjust to this beautiful new baby who has graced your life. I ran two miles exactly two weeks after Alice was born – and it was wonderful. I felt like myself again. I took it very easy after a full seven hours of sleep (my husband had kept watch for me the night before), and I didn’t run again for two more weeks. Babies are life changing; it’s okay to adjust before you start a running routine again.
2. Get an awesome jogging stroller.
For my birthday before Alice was born, my parents bought me a BOB jogging stroller. I love it. I have the Revolution SE, and Alice has accompanied me on many road runs (and even a race!) in it. We have gone for several trail walks as well. It’s easy to operate, easy to set up, and easy to store. If you’re pregnant now, go ahead and start saving for a BOB, especially if you want to run or walk for exercise after the baby comes. It’s worth it.
3. If you have the room in your home, get a treadmill.
I need to add this caveat, though – don’t buy a new one. There’s no point. I’ve had two treadmills since I started running, one that was given to me by someone who had no room for it and one that I purchased for $250 from someone on a Facebook group. That treadmill was basically brand new. Before Alice learned to crawl, I would set her on her play mat beside the treadmill while I ran…which is probably why she loves to run in place on the treadmill now.
4. Be flexible.
It will take some time to find your routine again – and when I say “some time,” I’m talking months. It took me six months to adjust to the little human who calls me “Mommy,” and it took me a couple more months to adjust to a new running schedule. I tried running during my lunch break. I tried running at night. I settled on running in the mornings.
I used to think that I could just take 30 minutes to run after work like I did before Alice was born. But that’s hard. She goes to bed around 7:30 p.m., so if I get home at 5:30 p.m. (best case scenario) and then shower, I only get about 90 minutes with her in the evenings. That’s just not enough time. So I choose to wake up at 5 a.m. to run and shower before she wakes up. I’m not a big fan of waking up that early, but my running mantra is, “At 6 a.m., you can have coffee.”
5. Don’t give up!
I have a joke about how I used to have this ideal vision of how my life would go when Alice was born – this ideal vision was, of course, conceived before Alice was born. I have had to change and then re-change so many parts of my exercise schedule to accommodate her – when I run, how long I run, where I run. Everything is different, but I am a stronger and faster runner now than I was before I was pregnant.
Some of these ideas may work for you, and some may not – and I’m sure you have ideas to share, too (please do!). Every mama has to learn what works for her and what doesn’t work for her. Just make sure to find something that works for you.