I felt very nervous about getting back into running after taking such a long break - the longer I waited the more excuses I started to come up with to wait a bit more! I had stopped running pretty early on in my pregnancy which I'd come to regret, but had remained relatively active in my job and switched Saturday parkruns to Sunday strolls. I thought that once I’d had the baby I’d be ready to get straight back to running. How wrong I was!
Being a new mum was taking up all of my time and energy. All I wanted to do for the first few weeks (and months) was let my body recover from pregnancy and childbirth and settle into my new role. It’s recommended to wait at least 12 weeks before heading out for a run after having a baby, even if your birth experience is relatively straightforward. Max’s first three months sped past, but by then it was the height of summer and my main focus became keeping both of us cool in the shade of the garden - no part of me felt like it was the right time to start working up a sweat by pounding the pavements in the blistering July heat.
When the weather turned a bit cooler, I thought again about digging out my running gear from its drawer of neglect, but somehow I felt guilty and selfish to even be contemplating leaving Max to go out and exercise, so I put it off again and suddenly it was October. The six month milestone had been in the back of my mind as the point I’d definitely start clocking up some miles, particularly as I’d read online that by then Max would be ready to go in the forward facing buggy, meaning we could run together and I could avoid some of that dreaded mum guilt. But I started questioning myself again as other online articles suggested waiting until he was one! I decided to put it off again.
Of course, the continuing threat of coronavirus lurked in the background too - at the height of the first lockdown when Max was tiny I was reluctant to even take him out for walks just in case the wrong person breathed too heavily in our direction. But I quickly decided that the fresh air and the sensory experience involved in taking frequent walks outweighed that worry. I would often pop him in the baby carrier and meet different friends for (socially distanced) walks, exploring and learning more about local destinations.
But after we finally closed the door on 2020 and vaccine hopes started to lift spirits about a brighter 2021, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I finally bit the bullet and Max and I went for our first run together last Sunday. At nine months old (halfway between the two recommendations I’d seen), he sat happily in the newly set up running buggy and took in the surroundings as I took a few tentative paces before getting into my stride. I have decided to follow the Run30 programme designed by This Mum Runs, an app that helps you build up to running continuously for half an hour, similar to the theory behind Couch to 5k. I’m hoping it will give me a bit of structure and also provide the sense of the running community that everyone is missing so much at the moment. (I honestly cannot wait for the return of parkrun!).
A part of me was thinking I should have been pushing myself harder during that first session - a minute of running followed by 90 seconds of walking recovery repeated eight times seemed a little bit too easy in my head. In my previous life as a runner I’d been about to start training for a marathon after all! But I reminded myself that this was not only my first run of the year, it was also my first run in well over a year and my first run since having a baby, so starting off easy was definitely the sensible option. If I went out all guns blazing and couldn’t walk the next day Max definitely wouldn’t thank me for it! So I stuck to it and plan to do three sessions a week - meaning that in eight weeks’ time I’ll (hopefully) be back to running more confidently and getting towards reaching my first milestone of 5k. If it takes a bit longer then that’s ok too. There may be days when Max or I just don’t feel like it - babies can be unpredictable after all!
For now I’m just happy to be getting out running again - I didn’t realise quite how much I’d missed that joyous post-run feeling. And it’s even better to think I had my little running buddy with me and he enjoyed his ride in the fresh air too.
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