Because we all love hearing Cathy’s perspective, I bring you another guest post, this time about returning to running after giving birth to her beautiful little baby boy, Theo!
So, here’s Cathy:
“After my first run post baby, Solana suggested I write an update post on how the running experience went. I decided to wait until I’d been running a few times as I hoped to see some progression in the running department…the first run was a bit of a challenge to say the least.
On March 2nd, 2014, I ran my last race ‘with cargo’. I guest posted about running whie pregnant which you can read here. I was about 37 weeks pregnant and feeling healthy and strong. I ran the West Van Run 10km race about 15 minutes slower than I usually would run a 10 km. Besides spending a lot of time contemplating which bush, dumpster, or building would work as a bathroom (for the record, I decided to just keep running in the end), I enjoyed the fresh air, exertion, and running in the slush.
Little did I know, that Theo would make his appearance a mere few weeks later. I was induced due to high blood pressure one week early (March 17th, on Theo’s great grandmother’s 90th birthday, the day she hoped I would have him) and after two days of labour, he finally gave his first coo followed by a hearty cry.
Theodore Owen Gryski
Born March 19th, 2014 at 4:24am
Throughout my pregnancy, everyone commented on how ‘small’ I looked. I managed to gain 40 pounds though, so I was surprised he was only 6 of them! I’ve been doing a lot of reading while nursing Theo, including working my way through the stack of back issue Runner’s World magazines that piled up during pregnancy.
During this time, I was preoccupied with pregnancy reading material and stocking up on sleep so they sat on my night table. Now, however, it’s amazing how much reading you can get done when you don’t sleep!
After I’d completed Run #1 postpartum, I stumbled upon Laura Fleshman’s article in Runner’s World. The exact article isn’t posted online, but her blog is here http://asklaurenfleshman.com. I’m no pro runner, but I related a lot to her running experiences post baby. She inspired me to a) keep running, and b) write a blog post.
So here I am, two and half months post baby, first run completed at four weeks, and three runs in. Summary thus far:
Run #1: Theme: Pregnancy happens slowly, birth happens (relatively) quickly.
I headed out on a four kilometre loop starting from our house. It was one of my first times venturing away from Theo (one month old), so I told Mark the exact route I’d take so he could drive and meet me if Theo started to holler. I set off back in my old (a little snugger) running duds, ready to work up a sweat…I’d lost all that baby weight, should be easy to knock out 4 kms in like 30 minutes, right?
Nope. What I was prepared for, didn’t happen, and what I was unprepared for, happened.
By four weeks, I’d wrapped my head around the potential for leaking (I agreed with Laura that women share their birth stories with glory, but not many people talk about the postpartum experience, which lasts much longer) and I was pleasantly surprised that things went quite well in that area. I was prepared to feel tired (sleep deprivation and general physical exhaustion after childbirth will cause this), but I forgot that I hadn’t raised my heart rate in a good six weeks regardless of having a baby. I started out a little fast and was shuffling by the time I got home. I was prepared to feel different after baby came out, but I wasn’t ready to feel so ‘matronly.’ My chest jiggled, my knees wiggled, and my hips were shaky. General ‘looseness’ aside, I could barely breathe from the intense side stitches. I hadn’t been prepared for how my stomach muscles would cope with running postpartum.
But for a first run, I called it a win. At least I’d managed to run the whole time and this spring has been beautiful weather wise (Theo timed his birthdate well). I enjoyed the meditative left-right left-right of my feet hitting the pavement and the air smelled of cherry blossoms mixed with freedom. And Theo? He slept the whole time.
Run #2: Theme: You’ll run after baby, but not as much as you thought you would.
I didn’t get around to running again (the same loop, enough of a challenge for now) for another few weeks. The days flip by with baby, and although I walk almost every day, running takes a bit more planning (Theo isn’t running stroller sized yet). I headed off for my second run feeling optimistic that things would go better this time.
And better they were! I still had some strong side stitches (time to get going to yoga to strengthen that core), but I started slower and regulated my breathing better. I felt stronger and ready to up the pace and distance. I thought of the walk up the stairs to the car when we left the hospital with Theo (due to my high blood pressure, we’d had an extended hospital stay). It was a small flight of stairs, yet I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached the car. Even though I hadn’t run often or far since having Theo, I was still quite pleased with my recovery progress overall.
Run #2 hadn’t gone as well for Theo and Mark. I arrived home to Mark bouncing him up and down saying, “Mommy will be home soon.” Another reason to start small; everyone is adjusting to what I call ‘the new normal.’
Run #3: Theme: Muscle memory meets postpartum hormones.
Between my second and third runs, my weekly parent group topic was on Postpartum Fitness. The guest speaker was a personal trainer. She informed us moms that recovery takes two years from conception. Wow. That’s a long time. She encouraged us to return to our previous level of activity with caution. Our muscles have memory, but our hormones are keeping our joints loose so start small and build up slowly. She also recommended yoga to build up the ‘trunk’ (extended core) area, and of course, Kegels.
With this in mind, I decided to stick to my usual loop and work on upping the pace if I felt comfortable for run #3. The biggest accomplishment of this run was the absence of any side stitches. In fact, running felt almost normal.
I don’t even remember how Theo fared during this third run, but I sure am looking
forward to when he’s big enough to come along for the ride.
Running goals for this year? Mark and I would each like to run one 5 Peaks Race. So far the start time of the races has been too early to even be out of bed and dressed, so this is a lofty goal for our family. Our weekly trails runs are something that I do really miss…but I know that we will run together again. Possibly along with Theo. Plus, who could begrudge a face like this:
Grind add-on :
I sent this guest post to Solana but somehow she didn’t see it, so she asked me to do an additional blurb about hiking the Grind last week, so that we’d be all caught up.
Last Tuesday Solana and I set off to hike the Grouse Grind. The original plan was that Solana would carry Theo and that we’d be a closer speed with her having the baby handicap. Unfortunately her physio said no to that plan, so it was up to me to be a super mom and carry him up the mountain myself.
The last time I had climbed Grouse was back in September when Mark and I hiked the BCMC and then Crown Mountain
as one of our last big hikes before baby came. As it was, Theo made himself known, and I ended up puking at the top of Grouse before continuing up Crown.
This time around, Theo was on the outside, and did not make me sick! It was a nice day for a climb, and weather wasn’t too hot, but carrying a baby strapped to your chest is hard work, and I found that I was easily out of breath and getting a bit dizzy.
Solana and I took our time, slowly hiking up the Grind. I found the hardest things were keeping in a straight path without being able to fully see where I was stepping, as well as feeling dizzy. I always forget that that first Grind of the season is the hardest and it’s a super tough workout when you’re doing it alone, let alone with child.
It felt great to get to the top of Grouse, and I was really proud of myself for just keeping moving forward and completing the hike. Theo didn’t seem to hate the hike either, as he slept most of the way up, only briefly waking up around halfway to join the convo for a little bit, before falling back asleep. Theo’s first Grind, but certainly not his last!
And now that we’re all caught up, it’s time for the next chapter in the life after Theo book, this morning, Solana and I are going for my first trail run post baby! It works out perfectly that Solana has to ease back into running, and it so happens that I’m doing the same thing. Wish us luck!
Anyone have any tips that keep them running with children in the picture? Anyone have any running stroller tips?
Thanks Cath! And she’s right, we’re off to the trails to test out my foot and for her first post baby trail run. Awesome! Hope everyone has a great Canada Day long weekend! I’ve got Alla’s stagette tonight, so I doubt I’ll be posting for a few days, but I’ll definitely try to update at least on Twitter on how my foot handles today. xoxo -S