For those of you who’ve had children, you know that running after having a baby is…different. Your hips feel different, your breasts leak, and the baby weight can make running especially hard. Not to mention, you now have a newborn that you either have to pack up or plan ahead to leave with someone. With all of these challenges, I knew that I would need some serious motivation to start running and exercising again.

Prior to my second daughter’s birth, I decided to join a group of coworkers, and I sign up for  a half-marathon at the end of August. This gave me about three months post-baby to get ready to run 13.1 miles. Having competed in college track and cross country, I’m not necessarily a novice when it comes to running, but the distance I’m most comfortable with is 800 meters. And while I‘ve done a half marathon before, I wouldn’t call myself a distance runner.  

As soon as I signed up, I made my doctor aware of what I was planning. He was familiar with my workout regimen during my pregnancy, which consisted of running 1–2 miles, 45 minutes on the elliptical or doing a workout from iFit’s “Fit Mommy” videos. My doctor told me if I had a normal delivery and recovery, he believed in my ability to complete the half marathon. You should always listen to what your doctor recommends and to your own body. Just like everyone’s labor is different, so is their recovery.

In mid-May, I delivered my beautiful baby girl. I did have some minor tearing that required stitches, but overall, things went better than I could have hoped for. After about two weeks, my bleeding slowed to the point that I was no longer wearing those giant diaper pads the hospital sends you home with. I was getting ancy to do more than short walks or puttering around my home, but I wanted to make sure I returned to working out safely.

You see, after my first daughter was born, I jumped into working out, thinking I was ready for it,  and I ended up with increased bleeding and a prolonged recovery. I didn’t want to do that to myself this time around, so I started to work out gradually.

After having a baby, your body becomes a foreign thing to you. When I started running again, I kept thinking, “This isn’t my running form…what’s going on?” The truth is, my body changed. My hips widened, so when I first started running, it was painful. It’s surprising how hard and awkward that first run can be, but don’t give up! It took me awhile, but I was able to reteach my body proper running form again.  

The last time I trained for a half marathon, I ran 15 miles. This time, with two kids, nursing, and a busy schedule, my longest pre-race run was only 8 miles. Most the time I ran 3–5 miles. One of our iFit trainers kept telling me, “If you can run 8 miles, you can run 13.1.” I honestly didn’t understand her logic at the time, but now, I realize how energizing race day can be with everyone pushing and encouraging you to cross that finish line.

On race day, I set my expectations low and fully expected to walk a fair portion of the race. After all, I’d only trained for 8 miles. When I was 8 miles in, I was so proud and relieved that I’d run without stopping. I knew every step I took after mile 8 was a bonus. Energized with a new determination, I was able to continue and felt great until I hit mile 10. I just wanted to stop running! I’d already gone farther and faster than I expected. But with only a 5k left, I was determined to cross that line without walking.

I slowed my pace and let my competitive side come out. I picked a runner to tail and took on the challenge 800 meters at a time. My anonymous competitor proved a challenge to keep up with, but I rallied at the end to pass him, and crossed the finish line exhausted and exhilarated.

I’m so glad I trained and ran this half marathon. It not only helped with my recovery and mood, but I also fit into my old jeans much more quickly! Be careful out there with that post-baby body, but don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself…you may be surprised by what your new body can do!

Michelle Alley BS
iFit Nutritionist

WARNING: This post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. iFit assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.