It is hard to believe that I am now 12 days postpartum. That is a lot of days without enough sleep. About 11 too many for my taste, in fact. I had forgotten just how painful the not sleeping bit is, particularly when your other children make napping an almost impossibility.
I was curious as to when I would start running again post-birth. I am a firm non-believer in the 6 week rule and am staunchly in favor of a more “if it feels good, do it” take on postpartum anything. Since my pregnancy with Isaac is the only one I’d run through, I wondered how things would go this time around. After his birth (long labor, 3rd degree tearing, etc.) I tried to run at 7 days and made it a quarter mile. I ran 3-4 miles around 11 days out.
This time, after a much faster delivery and no tearing, the question was, how many days could I handle the crazy that is our life right now before I needed a running fix? The answer was 4 days. I had no desire to run my two days in the hospital and I started cross training the day after I got home. I held off running until Saturday. It was cold, windy, rainy, and I ran the 5 miles slower than any of my pregnancy runs, but it felt indescribably wonderful.
For my first full week I announced to my husband on Monday that I was going for sustainability, not heroics. Heroics, this soon after birth would have been the equivalent of 30 or more miles. I made it to 25 for the week and felt pretty good about it. I did catch myself yesterday on my 7 mile “long” run, mentally whining about the fact that I am SO slow. Just as slow as when I was pregnant. Then I reminded myself that with Isaac, I was running for the first time 11 days out, not finishing up a 25 mile week. That put things back in perspective.
So the past three weeks have looked like:
Gave birth plus 5 miles
Apart from being slow, I feel good. The most noticeable difference (aside from the fact that I can now tie my running shoes with ease) is that I feel like the framework of my body has been stretched out a bit and needs a little time to retract. So I will probably just keep slowly running and wait until I feel the burning desire to push the pace a bit. My guess is that I won’t have that feeling for a few weeks at least!
It is amazing to me what a subjective thing pregnancy and postpartum exercise are. You don’t know how your body will respond, how you will feel, how labor will go or what sorts of problems you might encounter. Some women run marathons while pregnant, some of us get injured trying to train for a marathon and then decide marathons can wait until the baby is out. Some runners get too uncomfortable to run and cross train. You just don’t know, as with so much in pregnancy, what sorts of things you’ll be dealing with.
After not running for most of the second pregnancy I feel very grateful to have been able to run up to Liliana’s birth uninjured and pain free. I certainly did not anticipate that but am happy that it turned out that way. It’s nice to feel like the transition from pregnancy to postpartum running hasn’t been a big deal, since I really only took a week off. Plus it’s always an ego boost when the nurses ask at every shift change in the hospital if you are an athlete because your heart rate is so low and you know it’s due to running (Yes, I realize that’s a little weird, but there you go!).
Other bit of weirdness, I actually took the book Run Faster to the hospital for my reading pleasure. Yeah, that was silly. Nothing like reading training plans that I don’t have an adequate mileage or speed base for the day after having a baby. :-P I’m sure the nurses were laughing at me.
Shameless segue into pictures of my ex-running buddy. She is the cute and well-rested one these days. :-)