Hello, amazing mama runners!  It’s Melissa here, from the heart of the Chesapeake Running Academy. As we edge closer to a special moment—the release of a collaborative book on April 2nd, where I’ve shared my chapter on returning to running postpartum—I’m thrilled to unwrap some wisdom, woven with personal anecdotes and professional guidance, to support you on this incredible journey back to running.

The Starting Line: My Running Story

My running story began with a challenge posed by joining the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps: a mile-and-a-half run in 15 minutes. This initiation sparked a journey that saw me transition from a novice runner, grappling with the demands of physical training, to a passionate running coach and a mother runner who navigates the delicate balance of postpartum recovery with every stride.

Running has become my companion through the ebb and flow of life—through college, military service, cross-country moves, and the transformative experience of motherhood – particularly through the pandemic! It has taught me resilience, brought joy, and ultimately, led me to a profound realization: running is not just about the pace or the distance; it’s about the journey, the growth, and the joy it brings.

Embracing the Postpartum Running Journey

Becoming a mother adds a new layer to our running journeys. It introduces us to our strengths and vulnerabilities, challenging us to listen more intently to our bodies and to approach our return to running with grace and patience. Going through childbirth opens us up to new considerations, particularly when returning to running. 

  • Pelvic Floor Health: The unsung hero of your postpartum recovery. Prioritizing the strength and health of your pelvic floor is the top priority. Incorporating targeted exercises and consulting with a pelvic floor physical therapist can set a solid foundation for a safe return to running.
  • Regaining Core Strength: Your core is your powerhouse, especially in running. Rebuilding core strength postpartum involves more than just crunches; it’s about engaging and strengthening the deep core muscles with mindfulness and care.
  • Sleep: As a new mom, or maybe not so new mom, you’re sleep is hard to predict. Knowing when to lace up the shoes versus pulling the covers over your head is often a difficult decision we unknowingly make. 

The Path Forward: Safely Returning to Running

As we anticipate the book release, I’m eager to share a sneak peek into the strategies that have not only shaped my postpartum running comeback but have also empowered many mothers I coach:

  • The Gift of Time: Postpartum recovery varies for every mother. Giving yourself the grace of time to heal, strengthen, and gradually reintroduce running is vital. There’s beauty and strength in patience.
  • Listening to Your Body: Your body will guide you through this journey. Pay attention to its cues, and don’t hesitate to adjust your plans based on how you feel. Running should be a source of joy, not discomfort or pain.
  • Celebrating Every Step: Every run, no matter the pace or distance is a victory. Celebrate the milestones, the small wins, and the simple joy of being able to run. These moments are monumental in your postpartum journey.
  • Building a Supportive Community: The StrongMom RunClub was born out of a desire to connect, share, and support fellow mother runners. Finding your tribe, whether virtually or in your local community, can provide immense motivation and encouragement.
  • Rediscovering the Joy of Running: Let go of pre-pregnancy pace and distance expectations. Run for the love of it, for the fresh air, for the alone time, or for the sheer joy of moving your body. This mindset shift is liberating.

Your Empowered Guide to Postpartum Running

Returning to running postpartum is a journey that requires patience, strength, and self-love. Here’s an empowering guide, inspired by the chapter I contributed to the upcoming book, designed to navigate you safely back to the joy of running:

  • Start with Joy: Does running bring you joy in this postpartum phase? If yes, you’re ready to take the next step. If not, give yourself permission to wait. Running will always be there when you’re ready.
  • Medical Clearance is Key: Before lacing up, ensure you’re medically cleared for high-impact activities. This is also a perfect time to connect with a pelvic floor physical therapist to address any specific postpartum concerns.
  • Sleep, Glorious Sleep: Adequate rest is crucial for recovery and overall well-being. If sleep is elusive, consider gentle, restorative activities until your sleep improves.
  • Gentle Beginnings: Start with a mix of walking and gentle running. A run/walk strategy is not only kind to your recovering body but also a smart way to gauge your fitness and comfort level. Focus on how you feel rather than distance or pace.
  • Mindful Monitoring: Pay attention to your breath, pelvic floor, and overall comfort. Any signs of discomfort, heaviness, or leakage are cues to pause and reassess. Your body’s feedback is invaluable in guiding your return to running.
  • Progress Gradually: As you find your rhythm, gradually increase the duration and frequency of your runs, always prioritizing how your body feels over any predefined schedule or goal. Remember, slow and steady wins the race, especially in postpartum recovery.
  • Keep it Fun and Flexible: If running stops being enjoyable, or if life’s demands make running feel like another chore, it’s okay to take a step back. Running should be a joy, not an obligation. Adapt your running routine to fit your life, not the other way around.

The Finish Line is Just the Beginning

As we look forward to the book release on April 2nd, I invite you to view your postpartum running journey as a beautiful, ongoing process of discovery, growth, and joy. Running, like motherhood, is an adventure filled with ups and downs, triumphs and challenges. Embrace each step with kindness and grace, and know that every run, no matter how short or slow, is a celebration of your strength and resilience.

Whether you’re returning to running after your first child or navigating postpartum recovery a second/third/etc.. time,, the journey back to running is unique for every mom. Through the pages of the upcoming book and the community we’ve built at the Chesapeake Running Academy, know that you’re supported, celebrated, and empowered.

So here’s to you, mama— to your strength, your journey, and the many miles of joy ahead. Let’s lace up, hit the trails, and rediscover the joy of running together. The road ahead is open, and it’s beautiful. And remember, you are a runner, no qualifiers needed. Run strong, run happy, and run for you.

See you on the trails, and stay tuned for the book release—it’s going to be a game-changer for mother runners everywhere. Until then, keep running, keep smiling, and keep embracing every step of this incredible journey.

 

Hot Mess to Hot Mom: Transformational Tools for Thriving after Childbirth and Beyond will be available on Amazon on April 2nd.

Get your Empowered Approach to Safely Run Postpartum flow chart here