real life

The truth about running after having a baby.

Let’s cut the crap.

Enough with the photoshopped generic stock images of gazelle-like models who have probably never experienced the body-morphing, vajay–jay stretching joy of childbirth prancing along a scenic road with the angelic baby in the pram out front.

I can tell you from experience that’s not how women look OR feel when starting to pound the pavement again after childbirth.

And I’m here to tell you what it’s really like.

1. There WILL be WEE.

Sorry kids, we’re getting right to the point. Unless you have a pelvic floor like Arnold Schwarzenegger, chances are the fluid you’ll be losing is more than just sweat. This can often be true even for women who have had c-sections, so don’t think you’re off the hook if you didn’t have a vaginal delivery.

The fear of peeing ourselves is one of the biggest reasons that women don’t run. But the pelvic floor operates on a use it or lose it principle. Simply by getting out there and attempting a jog, your intense focus on not wetting yourself engages and strengthens the pelvic floor. So here’s what to do: Dig out your left over maternity surfboard pads so you can put your mind at ease. Avoid at all costs any running pants in grey marl. Then go to the toilet directly, and I mean DIRECTLY before you leave so your bladder is completely empty.

2. All the bouncing mumma-jugs. 

Whether you’re breastfeeding or not, you’ve probably found that the new you is somewhat more, er, ‘Dolly Partonesque’ than before. But you can’t let boobs get in the way of getting fit and healthy and feeling great, so strap those buggers down and get out there.

You’ll need a good sturdy crop top or two, feed before you run if you are feeding so they aren’t full, and keep the speed and impact fairly low. After all, no-one wants to see you give yourself a black eye.

3. Perpetual motion muffin tops.

I’ll never forget the moment shortly after giving birth to my first child when I got up to have a shower and felt my stomach. Holy hell, what the bejeezus happened here?

What was originally fairly flattish pre-pregnancy and then round and taught during pregnancy was now a glutinous molten pit of toneless lava-flab. Then there’s the general loss of muscle tone and gaining of adipose tissue (ok, ok, it’s FAT) that often occurs in pregnancy.

So what I’m saying is that running may feel pretty disgusting. Parts of you will be bouncing and slapping and jiggling it’s own little Mexican wave around your body. But don’t worry. It feels much worse than it looks, and with every step, every kilometre down, things will start to firm up again. This feeling won’t be forever.

4. The mother f%$#ing hard-ness of it.

I’m not a ‘born runner’. I conditioned myself to run many years ago, and I even learned to quieten the “oh-my-god-this-is-killing-me” internal dialogue I had going on, but I never hit that zen-like state that some do. So I expected it to be hard to get fit again. But let me tell you that saying you’re all the way back at square one again doesn’t even cut the mustard.

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Drop your expectations and be kind to yourself. My theory is that the more challenging something is, the more you need it and the more you’ll get out of it.

5. BYO Olympic-level organisational skills.

Unless you’re someone like Rebecca Judd or Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, you probably don’t have a team of professionals that allows you all the ‘me time’ you need to get and stay in shape. So how do you get out for some exercise with the rugrats in tow?

Simple.

All you need is nappies, wipes, food for the toddler, sun/rain shade just in case, water, keys, did I check the pram tyres were pumped?, music/phone, hats, sunscreen, don’t’ forget to go to the loo before I go, quick, before the kids get fractious… Geez Louise, if you manage all of that you should be a CEO of a major company.

But in a way this is no different from any other mummy major expedition, i.e. going to the park or the supermarket. We do it on a daily basis and manage it, because we fecking rock, ok?! If you do it regularly, it becomes second nature. You’ll cope.

6. Embrace mandatory interval training.

Once upon a time going for a run meant a steady 30 to 60 minutes of music, focus on your feet rhythmically moving forward, the sound of your breath in and out, etc. Not anymore. Now you have to keep one ear and eye on bambino/s at all times.

After many attempts, I have found that the best you can often do is a haphazard sort of interval training I call ‘running with kids’. It involves jogging for 50 metres, then slowing to walking pace to replug the newborn with the dummy, then running for about 47 seconds, then doing a quick walking lunge to pick up the dropped sheep toy for the toddler, then sprinting to the end of the street, then slowing to stop child #1 poking child #2 in the eye, while you’re at it replug the baby again…

On the bright side, research shows that interval training is more effective than a slow consistent pace anyway, so, happy days!

It sounds like it’s really hard work to try to get back into running after you’ve had children, right?. Unfortunately, it is. But it’s worth it. All you have to gain is a bit more fitness and self-confidence, kids who see activity as a normal part of their day, and a chance to take in your surroundings outside and breathe fresh air.

How did you find it getting back into exercise after having kids?

This originally appeared here and is republished with full permission.

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