After having kids the thought of running is one that strikes fear into most mums minds. As well as the energy required for such physical exertion, and the mental barriers (bed seems so much more appealing, we get it!). Then there’s also that little thing called a pelvic floor that just doesn’t want to let you forget you had a baby every time you laugh too hard or a sneeze takes you by surprise.
But we’re here to tell you, you CAN run! Whether you used to be a runner before you had kids, or you’re just starting out. And the best thing – it’s not about heading out the door to run a marathon right away, it’s about starting small.
Podiatrist Emily Smith recommends starting with a low impact exercise regime that focuses on control, stability and strength i.e. Pilates and ‘conscious’ walking, will fundamentally develop your smaller and deeper muscles, so you can safely return to higher intensity forms of exercise, including running once you are cleared from your physio or doctor.
With gyms and group exercise still closed due to Covid-19, there’s no better time than now to leave the kids with your partner and get out in the fresh air and start pounding the pavement. Trust us, you’ll be a different person when you walk back in the door.
Here, Turia Pitt shares her top 5 tips for getting back into running after having a baby.
1. Get cleared by a physio or your GP
You might hear stories of women getting straight back into running after having kids. That’s great. More power to them! But it’s not what I recommend for everyone. Every body is different, so I always recommend waiting to get seen by your GP or women’s health physio before you start running after kids.
You need to be at least 12 months postpartum before you can join RUN with Turia, my program for mums! I put that requirement in because I think the first year is hectic enough already! So, I say take a beat! Enjoy (or just survive!) that first year, give yourself some time and space, and come and join us when you’re physically and mentally ready for the challenge.
2. Start slow
Most people assume that running means, y’know, Olympic-style sprinting. But it’s not. A slow shuffle is perfect! So, start out slow. And if you begin to struggle and feel like stopping, go slower again. If this means you’re jogging so slowly that a baby sloth could overtake you, that is perfectly fine!
And if you find yourself thinking “Why am I bothering to run if I could walk faster?” Well, running and walking are two very different movement patterns. So by running, no matter how slow you are going, your body is learning the movement pattern for running. The more you do it, the better you’ll get!
3. Kiss your ego goodbye
It’s normal to worry about what you look like to passing cars but if you want to make progress, you need to kiss your ego goodbye.
If someone walking their dog overtakes you, that is perfectly OK! You’re doing something new. Give yourself permission to have a go at being a beginner. You are learning and growing and changing. This is a good thing!
4. Find a buddy or someone to help you stay accountable
A mate, a group, a trainer, a coach – all of these things can be very helpful for those times when you just don’t want to go for a run. That’s why so many women have had success inside my program RUN with Turia – you get a whole community of women supporting you and holding you accountable (in a friendly way!).
5. Be consistent (and remember that improvement isn’t always linear)
People often assume that when they work at something every day, they’ll get a bit better every day too.
But it doesn’t work like that.
Improvement isn’t linear.
It’s OK if you have to cut a session short every now and then, or if some runs just feel harder than others.
If you’re consistent and just keep showing up, I promise you, you will see results.
Here’s one final tip:
You can do anything but you can’t do everything.
Choosing to take that small 20-minute window in your day to go for a run might mean you don’t get that email sent or that load of laundry done. Dinner might be pizza at the oval, where you’ve plonked your kids down so you can fit in your sprint training session! That’s OK! Like I said: You can do anything, but you can’t do everything. So, don’t wait for everything to be “right” – hair brushed, clean clothes on, dinner cooked, lawn mowed – before you make time for the things that feel good!
Kiindred founder Emmy says running with Turia made her a better mum: