My Postpartum Fitness Goal

When I first was asked to run the half marathon in San Francisco at 29 weeks pregnant, I googled every possible ‘running + pregnant + third trimester’ phrase. Then asked my doctor. I know it should have been the other way around. I completed the race, Tommy and Mommy were OK and the internet haters who said they “wouldn’t feel bad if I had a miscarriage” were silenced.

Now as I look forward to working out again, I feel like I’m in a similar boat googling ‘postpartum + running + when can I start’. During one LA visit, I took a spin class next to a woman that gave birth very recently. Her friend who I sort of knew said, “She gave birth last week!” I know that couldn’t possibly be correct, right? It must have been an exaggeration but by how much I do not know. As it turns out, the standard 6 week recovery period is not a mandatory rule across the board. Given I worked out the day before going into labor, ideally I should be able to workout sooner than the person who stopped during their first trimester, right? I do plan to wait 6 weeks until I start running again but I am itching to do some low impact workouts like barre, spinning, the elliptical and easy strength training sooner.

My Big Goal

When I do start running though, I have a goal. I will be training to run the 2016 Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 1st! I was asked by GNC to document my postpartum fitness journey and finish with a challenge that takes place in their hometown. The prenatal vitamins that I took during my pregnancy and still am taking for breastfeeding were all bought at GNC so I figured it was a perfect match.

Here are the two vitamins I alternated between buying: Mega Food Baby and Me and Garden of Life Prenatal.

My Fears

Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy and is my number one priority. I’m afraid of how my chest is going to feel when I do put back on a high intensity sports bra. I tried one on this morning and it did NOT fit or feel good. I’m hoping to fit in my runs around Tommy’s breastfeeding schedule but as a newborn, he really doesn’t have a schedule which makes me nervous.Stroller Key Fit 30 Boston

I have a jogging stroller that allows my infant car seat to snap in but he can’t use that for at least another 2 months. Fitting in my training runs is going to be a challenge in addition to the actual work and I’m looking forward to sharing my struggles here on my blog.

Here is a quick video I uploaded yesterday announcing my goal and some more of the fears I have.

If you are a mom, I’d love to hear down below when you started working out again and when you were able to do challengeing workouts.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by GNC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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26 Comments

  • shri
    Reply

    Did people really say that they wouldnt feel bad if you had a miscarriage? its so horrible, I cant even imagine. You are a rockstar and a great inspiration for us looking for fitness tips.

  • Nicole Barber
    Reply

    I have had 2 kids and I’m pregnant with my third. What I have come to realize is you can do whatever you feel like you can do. If you feel ready to work out, go for it! If not, don’t feel guilty! I have pushed myself too far exercising while pregnant and I am still suffering from injuries (I stretched too far in a yoga class and pulled a groin muscle). But I don’t see a reason you “should” wait 6 weeks, that is just the time most people feel comfortable getting active again.

  • Elainea
    Reply

    This sounds like such a great idea! All of the research is super helpful I’m sure, but don’t forget that everyone’s different! :) Your body is clearly craving activity && it sounds like you’re being so safe about it. I’d love to hear more about your progress getting back into things and how training goes!

    elainea
    toast the girl almighty

  • Maggie McCurdy
    Reply

    Hi Sarah --

    I am a fellow-Boston based runner and relatively new Mom (my daughter is 20 months). I ran up until the day before going into labor and then raced a half marathon 4 months postpartum so I wanted to comment and share some of my thoughts/experience.

    I gave birth in early June, and as mentioned above ran up until the day before labor started, for the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy I never ran more than 5 miles, anything further felt really uncomfortable! I started doing low impact strength training 1 week after my daughter’s birth, just using my prenatal barre DVDs to do something because I was feeling antsy! I went for my first run 4 weeks postpartum, I discussed this with my midwife and we decided that if my body felt ready before my 6 week checkup then there was no reason I couldn’t give running a try, but obviously if things didn’t feel good it was a sign that I needed more time to heal.

    I started off with an easy 2-miler and then worked my way back up. Some days were better than others and I did feel like I needed to learn to run again without my center of gravity displaced, it was pretty frustrating! It took about 6 weeks of running 3-4 times a week before I felt like my old “running self” again. It was after these 6 weeks that I began focusing on my training. My goal with the half was to get back to being comfortable running pre-baby distances, and signing up for a race was great motivation for that! My “training” schedule was much more lax than anything I had done in the past (for reference my race history is 2 Boston Marathons and various halfs, nothing too crazy!). I did one long run a week, typically on Saturday or Sunday mornings when my husband could watch the baby, and then 2-3 shorter runs depending on babysitter availability (either when Grandma was available, or before my husband left for work). For a stroller we have a BOB and while we did have the car seat adapter, I didn’t run with my daughter until she was 8 months old and large enough to sit in the main stroller seat.

    If I were to do it over again I probably would not have signed up for the race, personally I know my distances and times would have gotten back to where I wanted them to be and during those first 6 months I wish I had focused more on using “me” time for all of the things that make me happy -- running, fitness classes, pedicures, and not just on fitting in training runs.

    • Sarah
      Reply

      interesting and thankful for you sharing this! Like my pregnant half, I’m kind of playing it by how I feel each day. At 29 weeks pregnant, I didn’t do a long run that was further than 9 miles and finished feeling ok. I too love classes and hope to incorporate those. I’m hoping to run 2-3 times a week.

  • Anna
    Reply

    This is awesome! I’m due at the end of March with my first child and am already registered for a half marathon in October. I’ve done the race every year for the last 5 years, so I just had to register and keep the tradition going. I will definitely be following your journey as I will be going on a similar one soon. Good luck!

  • lynne
    Reply

    Woop woop! I’m running Pittsburgh Half this year too -- I just moved here and everyone says great things about the race. Best of luck with your training!! Looking forward to your posts, too -- as a gal who is not yet a mom but likely will be in a few years, I appreciate you sharing.

  • Amy
    Reply

    It’s definitely an ambitious goal, but still attainable! When I had my little girl (now 21 months) I did wait the full 6 weeks -- I probably would have been fine earlier, but that was the number I had in my head (I also had a c-section, so a little different of a scenario!) It does take time to ease back into it, so try not to get frustrated if it doesn’t go as easily as you hope…I worked out up until about 36 weeks pregnant, so I was in a good spot fitness wise too, but those first few weeks were…humbling :) Not necessarily bad or painful, but like being pregnant, having to learn a new way to do things for your new body. Best of luck with your fitness journey!

  • Julia
    Reply

    While I can’t comment on post-partum running, I can say that I ran the Pittsburgh Half a few years ago -- it’s a fun and relatively flat course with a lot of crowd support the whole time. I look forward to following your journey! I’m due with my first in May and am hoping to run a half in October.

  • Shdowy_lady
    Reply

    Hey Sarah, I started exercising at 5 weeks post partum. I was very active during my pregnancy just like you.

    I had a very uncomplicated natural birth and was cleared to exercise at 4 weeks. I started with yoga and barre actually and Tracy Andreson’s DVD’d at home. I would tell you the boobies were definitely a problem when I tried higher impact exercises at 2 months post. I was a 34DD before pregnancy and by the time I gave birth, I was up to 34F :( I got a very good sports bra from Under Armour and planned my activities around Sofia’s nursing schedule. By then I was doing Zumba, baby, mommy bootcamp and spinning. It will be difficult at first but your body will get the hang of it soon.

    My No.1 advice though, do prioritize being active but remember that your body has gone through a lot and it will take time to have the same energy as before. Your body will also take time to get to where it was.

  • Nina
    Reply

    I had my first baby in July and felt pretty good afterwards, so I was running at 4 weeks postpartum. It felt terrible and I had to walk a lot, so I just took it easy for a long time.

    I didn’t bring the baby with me on runs until she was almost 6 months old -- even though our stroller had an option to click her in the car seat, many people (including our pediatrician) said she needed to have full head control before bringing her on a run due to the risk of neck and head injuries.

  • Savanna
    Reply

    With 1&2 I waited 6 weeks to run.
    With 3 I ran 4 miles a few times a week up till 2 days before her birth. I started walk/running at about 3 weeks.
    With #4 I started walking immediately because I had a little abdominal separation so my midwife encouraged it as soon as I was up to it around 2 weeks and by week 4 I was running.

    Best advice, listen to your body and double up the sports bras. But it will still hurt for awhile.

  • Karoliina
    Reply

    Great goal! My goal is also to run a half-marathon in May (on May 14th) and it´s also gonna be my first race post baby! I gave birth to my baby girl on Nov 9, and just recently started run-walk. It did not feel comfortable before and I also wanted to make sure that my pelvic floor muscles are strong enough for running before starting! :) My delivery wasn´t an easy one, so that´s why it takes longer to recover. It will be fun to follow your journey!! It´s so different now with breastfeeding and trying to schedule the runs etc..but I´m up for the challenge and so excited I can run again! Good luck to you!!

  • Regina
    Reply

    I’ve run a half marathon after each of my kids. With my first 2 sons I started running again at 3 weeks postpartum with permission from my OB (I’ve been lucky to have very easy births). I had my third son January 10th and won’t run again until at least this week (4 weeks pp) as my appt is Monday (new OB) and with 3 kids 3 and under, I’m not in any rush to get back out there. I plan to run my 3rd half marathon in September (8months post partum).

  • indeeskitchen
    Reply

    I’ve done the Pittsburgh half (and several others) several times -- it’s a bit hilly but nothing beats the crowd support in Pittsburgh! i’m sure you can do it and will love it!

  • Julia
    Reply

    I am German and we have a totally different take on post-partum fitness. I am not saying one way is better than the other, I just want to share. First of all I honestly admire you for running a half marathon 29 weeks pregnant. I am currently 26 weeks along with my second and stopped running two weeks ago, because I am just not enjoying it any more (constantly having to pee, weird pains and aches etc.). With my first I had to stop at 24 weeks and then just didn’t do anything anymore up till he was born. I am a strong believer in exercising during pregnancy- I mean, let’s face it: giving birth and caring for a newborn demands all the fitness and strength you have. So I regretted not finding alternatives with my first after running wasn’t an option anymore. In Germany your health care provider pays for a midwife who takes care of you and the baby before birth and after, as long as you are breastfeeding or up to six months after birth (!!!). They all strongly advocate no exercise six weeks after birth, after you are cleared by your doctor. After that you are supposed to take a strength exercise class for six weeks which mainly focuses on pelvic floor and core strength. This class is also being paid for, as it has proofen to reduce the risk of prolapse and incontinence in women later on (we are talking ten/fifteen years down the line). My midwife looked at me like I was crazy, when I wanted to take up running before six months after giving birth. So here you are not supposed to do any high impact activity months after having a baby…. I guess, the story is different for every person, but I just wanted give a glance into a different culture. Btw.: I couldn’t keep my feet still and started running four months after birth again…

  • Jenny
    Reply

    I started working out again after my lil man turned one but that was because I was a breastfeeding full time working mama (who pumped at work) and I didn’t want to compromise my milk supply. I’m sure it would have been fine to start sooner but I wasn’t too upset about it.
    When I did start up again I pumped literally right before I worked out and then again after. That was to a) keep the supply up and b) make it more comfortable to exercise. I double up on sports bras while making sure they weren’t too tight which seemed to help a lot!

  • Ericka Andersen Sylvester
    Reply

    Just seeing this post. I started working out again at 4 weeks PP. I ran 2 miles (jogged). Now I’m 12 weeks PP and can see why they want you to wait…mostly becauseI literally felt like i was peeing the entire time I was running. I think it was fine…just that part was no fun. Now I still have that issue a little but it’s getting better, ha ha. Jumping jacks and jumping rope are still a major issue..boo! I was like you and NEEDED to exercise to get back to feeling semi-normal!

  • jenedunham
    Reply

    I had a jogging stroller that our car seat fit into, the Chicco Tre Jogging stroller. Once I was cleared by the doctor at 6 weeks I started using it for interval running with my son and it was just fine! I just made sure he was night and secure like he would be for a car ride! It was just fine! I think the “recommendations” are a little harsh on that. If we can take them in a car that goes way faster than we jog it should be fine! Enjoy getting back to things!! It’s hard but it’s a nice time to feel like YOU again!!

  • Heather
    Reply

    Do what works for you! I ran a marathon 4 days before baby #1 was born, 1 day before baby #2 was born and 2 days before baby #3 was born. I’ve been an abide marathoner for years and ran throughout all pregnancies and multiple races each pregnancy. Just listen to your body and your doctor. My doctor cleared me for exercise between 2 and 4 weeks with each.

    One experience I had, as soon as I start pushing it really hard in the gym, my milk dried up almost overnight. I’m sure it’s just my body, but maybe be cautions with that.

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