How to get back to running after pregnancy - Women's Running

How to get back to running after pregnancy

Author: Kate Sellers

Read Time:   |  October 25, 2021

Whether you ran through pregnancy or needed to take some time out, getting back into running after having a baby can feel like you're starting all over again. We speak to pre- and post-natal specialist Nicole Chapman to find out exactly how to get back into our running routine in a gentle and enjoyable way

First things first: are you ready to get back into running? When returning to any exercise postpartum, it’s important that your GP has signed off on it. Once you’ve got the thumbs up, we can start to prepare our bodies for running specifically.

Getting ready to run

Running is a high impact activity, so it’s vital that you do the groundwork before lacing up. This means that working on your pelvic floor is a priority. Your pelvic floor becomes weakened during pregnancy, and if you do not take the time to focus on healing and strengthening it, it can lead to a whole host of problems, including pain, incontinence issues and injury.

I recommend seeing a women’s physio from around 6 weeks after birth. For my clients, I spend 6 weeks working on rehabilitating the pelvic floor and rebuilding a strong core, glutes and hips, to ensure pelvic stability.

Taking the first steps

It’s important to build up slowly when returning to running. You may want to go back to basics and start with a Couch to 5K. Those first runs in particular will feel tough – I often hear the phrase “like running through treacle”. Don’t let this deflate you – it is normal! Make sure you allow time to warm up with dynamic stretches and cool down after with static stretches.

Strength is key

Strength training is important to do alongside your running. It will support your muscles and joints, which can not only improve your running speed and efficiency but also decrease injury risk. I designed a 6-week programme, Power of Mum, to build strength, improve fitness and support women achieve their post-baby running goals.

Breastfeeding and running

If you are breastfeeding or expressing, it’s even more important than usual to stay hydrated and you may wish to express before the run for extra comfort. I’d also recommend investing in a good, high-impact sports bra to reduce the range of breast movement. If you are nursing your baby immediately after exercise then wiping the sweat from your breast is advised so that your baby isn’t put off when latching.

Go easy on yourself

If you were an active runner pre-baby, these early months can understandably leave you feeling trapped and less like your old self. The important thing to remember is that you can be just as fit and strong as pre-pregnancy – maybe even moreso – with some time, patience and a change in mindset. As a mum, you undoubtedly have less time, so try not to be too strict with training plans or schedules – it’s important to take the windows when they arise for your mind as much as anything. Equally, listen to your body and take extra rest days if you need to.

Set yourself a realistic challenge

As you start to get back into running and settle into your new routine, a realistic challenge can be a really great way of motivating yourself and showing yourself how far you’ve come. Pick something with a timeframe that allows for the weeks that don’t go to plan. At this stage, try not to compare your times to pre-pregnancy races. I’ve signed up for the Royal Parks half marathon in October, and have been working hard on letting go of my pre-baby ego and so that I can enjoy running it and creating new postpartum PBs. Don’t forget to celebrate these new milestones along the way!

 

About the author

Nicole Chapman is a fully-qualified personal trainer and specialist in pre- and post-natal fitness. To find out more about Nicole’s online strength and high-intensity cardio programmes, designed for all abilities, visit www.nicolechapman.com or follow her on Instagram: @iamnicolechapman 

Written by

Kate Sellers

Kate Sellers

Kate is our Senior Digital Executive and a keen runner. She's also a qualified Personal Trainer and yoga teacher, so she knows her stuff about workouts, cross-training and stretching. She loves to combine running and exploring, so you'll often find her testing out the latest kit in exciting locations across the UK and beyond. Kate champions exercising for enjoyment. "Most of the year, you'll find me running for fun and wellbeing," she says. "That being said, I do still love the thrill of training for a race from time to time!"

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