Reader to Reader: Running Mummy

How soon after having a baby should you don your running shoes? Here's what you thought


Posted: 21 April 2007
by Jane Hoskyn


This week's questioner had a baby in January. But, unlike her fellow new mum Paula Radcliffe, she doesn't have a coach as a hubby. How should she get back into running?

"I used to run most mornings (approx 3 miles) and loved it. I gave up a year ago as I was pregnant. Have since had a baby girl (22 Jan 2007) and am getting my fitness back. But I've read that I shouldn't be doing an 'active' sport like running until five months after the birth. Can anyone advise me on how I can get back into running, and what training programme I should be undertaking?"
Tracy Skriczka


Your best answers

  • You're not ill – so if you feel like running, run!
    Tracy, provided you feel fully recovered and don't have any obvious medical problems there is no reason why you shouldn't start running again. You can use any of the scores of beginning-to-run schedules that are out there. With my first I had a C-section, and a nice young physiotherapist who visited me a couple of weeks later gave me lots of advice about rotating my ankles to keep the blood flowing while I was lying on the sofa. I kept quiet about it not having occurred to me that I shouldn't be scrambling in and out of the loft with heavy boxes, digging the garden, and hopping on the train and doing some gentle hill-walking with the baby in a sling. Result? My scar is invisible and my insides haven't fallen out! – Velociraptor
  • Take it slow and focus on your core
    I gave birth less than three weeks ago, unfortunately by C-section, but as a sports therapist I plan to resume running (provided I get the OK) from my six-week check up. When I say running I mean jogging and walking initially, taking it very slowly. I managed to run whilst pregnant up to the six-month point and then carried on swimming and using CV equipment for another couple of months. Take it gradually, and definitely do some core stability and pelvic floor exercises. Don't expect to be anywhere near your pre-pregnancy fitness. – Jayne Ecott
  • You know your body better than your midwife does
    The key thing is to do what you feel. I ran all the way through both of my pregnancies and felt fine, albeit slower. I also swam a mile every other day. Like many of the ladies of the forum, my midwife was horrified with my exercise regime. They thought I was mad, but I knew what my body could do and I never took any risks – I knew what I was capable of. After giving birth to each baby I was back on the road a week later. (Both deliveries were problem free and relatively quick with no drugs.) Be careful though, and wear lots of supportive underwear and pads! I raced about three months after giving birth, and with my second baby I did the London marathon six months after he was born and achieved a personal best. Having a baby certainly makes you more motivated. Good luck and don't give up. – raceshy
  • Running is valuable "me time"
    I was back running within two weeks of giving birth to my daughter, who's now two, and I trained for and ran a half marathon PB within 5 months. It is tricky, especially if you are breast feeding, but I enjoyed it as the only "me time" I ever had/have. – caterpillar girl
  • Gradual recovery and a good bra
    I had two C-sections and didn't do anything other than light walking until about three months after each operation. Then I built up slowly, it probably took a full year after each to get my top speed back. Wear a good bra, especially if you're breastfeeding. Oh, and always a good idea to feed before you run. – kittenkat
  • Bookmark the pregnant runners' thread
    I'm expecting a baby in three months, and still managing to run a bit (very slowly). Like you, I'm also hoping to get back to running as soon as I can after the birth. Make sure you come and see us on the pregnant runners thread, where you'll find lots of mums and mums-to-be at different stages. Good luck! – sarahbob
  • Listen to your body
    I think you're the best judge of how you feel. Five months is plenty long enough for your body to start getting back to normal. Provided you've had the all clear from the health visitor and take it steady to start with, wear a good bra and listen to your body, go for it. I couldn't wait to get back exercising after having my daughter and found it really helped to have some time to myself. Everyone says you should get as much sleep as possible, but I used some of my spare time to run and I think it made me much more level headed. Just play it by ear if you've had a bad night with the baby, and pace yourself. – Lisa Moore
  • Take it steadily
    I horrified my midwife by running to and from my ante-natal clinics (3 miles) up until 34 weeks (though it got very slow) and swam a mile the night before my daughter arrived! I did a triathlon when she was 6 months and carried on feeding till 18 months or more (it is the only time I have any bust!) – and this was my fourth child. So just build your fitness back steadily and play it by ear, because the speed at which your fitness comes back will be very individual. As others have said, make sure your core muscles and especially your pelvic floor are in good shape, and you should be fine. My daughter is 16 now and I am still running. – Tootie A
  • You may find that your fitness springs back
    Unless you had problems after the birth (eg problems with your scar after a section), get out there if you feel up to it. I didn't start again until my daughter was nearly eight months, and I regret it as I lost so much fitness in that time. I'd kept exercising until the bitter end during pregnancy, and then felt I'd wasted all that effort! I'm getting back into it now though, and it's amazing how quickly it all comes back. If you can find any other newish mums to run with that really helps too. – Clara Cluck
  • Take care of your health as well as your fitness
    Make sure you're taking a good multivitamin, as pregnancy and childbirth rob your body of essential nutrients. I found that I just didn't have the same reserves as before, as I could never fully recover – and my sleep was patchy most nights. I can now run similar distances compared with before I had my girls, though I'm much slower. Enjoy your baby! – cher wingrove
  • Taking the long view...
    25 years minimum. After finally getting them through university, I can now afford a pair of running shoes again! – slow motion


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Discuss this article

I used to run most mornings (approx 3miles) and loved it. I gave up a year ago as I was pregnant. Have since had a baby girl, 22nd Jan 2007, and am getting my fitness back. One thing I have read is that I shouldn't be doing an 'active' sport like jogging/running 5mths post birth, but I would like some advise on how I can get back into running and what training programme I should be undertaking.
Posted: 12/04/2007 at 20:04

Tracy
please take a look at the preggy thread on here
lots of women there to advise you
i cant see a reason not to run 5 months on to be honest

copy and paste this-my computer wont let me do links

happy running
http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/forum/forummessages.asp?dt=4&UTN=71708&last=1&V=6&SP=

Posted: 12/04/2007 at 20:07


Nam
Hi Tracy,

Congratulations!

Yep the preg thread is fantastically helpful, and a really supportive community.

But since you asked quite a specific question about how to time your return to running, I though I'd feature it as this week's Reader to Reader question. It usually brings in a few replies by email as well, so hopefully we'll get a good range of tips and experiences.

'bye for now,

Jane x
Posted: 15/04/2007 at 18:25

Tracy, provided you feel fully recovered and don't have any obvious medical problems there is no reason why you shouldn't start running again, and you can use any of the scores of beginning-to-run schedules that are out there.

Good luck :o)

My youngest child was nearly three years old before I had the energy and motivation to start exercising seriously.
Posted: 15/04/2007 at 18:58

Tracy - I was back running within 2 weeks of giving birth and trained for and ran a HM PB within 5 months. It is tricky (especially if you are breast feeding) but I enjoyed it as the only me time I ever had/ have (she's now 2!)
Posted: 15/04/2007 at 19:23

I had a c-section with my first, and had a home visit from a nice young physiotherapist a couple of weeks later. He gave me lots of advice about rotating my ankles to keep the blood flowing while I was lying on the sofa. I kept quiet about it not having occurred to me that I shouldn't be scrambling in and out of the loft with heavy boxes, digging the garden, and hopping on the train and doing some gentle hill-walking with the baby in a sling.

My scar is invisible and my insides haven't fallen out :o)
Posted: 16/04/2007 at 16:12

Hi Tracey - I'm expecting a baby in a few months time and still managing to run a bit(v. slowly) I'm also hoping to get back to running as soon as I can after the birth - as well as waiting for the all-clear from the dr/ midwife, I've been advised it will be a good idea to focus on core stability to begin with, as these muscles take a bit of a battering during pregnancy.

Posted: 16/04/2007 at 16:22

Hi Tracey,

I think you're the best judge of how you feel and 5 months is plenty long enough for your body to start getting back to normal. Provided you've had the all clear from the health visitor and take it steady to start with, wear a good bra and listen to your body then I would go for it. I couldn't wait to get back exercising after having my daughter and found it really helped to have some 'me' time. Even though everyone else says you should get as much sleep as possible I used some of my spare time to work out and I think it made me much more level headed. Just play it by ear if you've had a bad night with the baby and pace yourself.

Good luck & congrats

Posted: 17/04/2007 at 14:59

PS Is 5 months a typo? Should it be 3 months (going on your daughter's birth date)? Either way, I'm sure you would be fine to start doing some gentle exercise if you've had the all-clear from your dr/ midwife. Good luck!
Posted: 17/04/2007 at 19:23

I gave birth less than 3 weeks ago, unfortunately by C section but as a sports therapist i plan to resume running on the ok from my 6 week check up. When i say running i actually mean jogging and walking initially taking it very slowly. I managed to run whilst pregnant up to the 6 months point and then carried on swimming and using CV equipment for another couple of months. Take it gradually and definatley do some core stability and pelvic floor exercises. Do not expect to be anywhere near your pre-pregnancy fitness.
Good Luck
Posted: 17/04/2007 at 19:47

I first went running about 7 weeks after my baby was born,starting with 15 min easy run and increased by half mile a week until I could do 7-8 miles.(always in the afternoon/evening though as I was breastfeeding and was too uncomfortable in the morning)I feel like I am running just about as fast as I was pre-pregnancy and she is 8 months now.
Posted: 17/04/2007 at 21:51

Ide wait till they cut the cord to be honest :-)
Posted: 18/04/2007 at 11:59

Unless you had problems after the birth (i.e: problems with your scar after a section) then if you feel up to it I'd get out there. I didn't start until my daughter was nearly 8 months and I regret it as I lost so much fitness in those 8 months (kept exercising until the bitter end during pregnancy and then felt I'd wasted all that effort!). I'm getting back into it now though and its amazing how quickly it all comes back. If you can find any other newish mums to run with that really helps too!
Posted: 18/04/2007 at 14:57

25 years minimum. After finally getting them through university I can now afford a pair of running shoes again!
Posted: 18/04/2007 at 20:24

I completely agree with all the comments about doing what you feel your body is happy with. Just don't have too higher expectations.

Although, having said that I havent given birth yet!

I am 3 months pregnant and I am to continue running until my body and baby says no more! Therefore can anyone advise me where I can get supportive yet sporty running tops and shorts/leggings that are designed to stretch over the bump?!

Thank you

And keep on going to all of you that are determined not to be treated as an invalid with a 'condition'.
Posted: 19/04/2007 at 11:50

Claire - I'm nearly 6 months pregnant and still running with a rather large bump (this is no. 3 and it feels like I'm even bigger than before!) I'm still managing to get into most of my normal running clothes because they're so stretchy - and I've bought a pair of 1 size larger leggings and some vests from Tchibo whcih do good quality but cheap running gear - I didn't want to spend a fortune on stuff that I will hopefully only be wearing for a few months. Definitely get a good well-fitting sports bra though.

And come and see us on the pregnant runners thread - lots of mums and mums-to-be at different stages. Good luck!
Posted: 19/04/2007 at 12:20

Hi Tracey,

I had my second child late October 2006, she is approaching 6 months. I was hoping to do this years Marathon - on Sunday but I think I started running too soon after my daugher and had to ease off...probably a silly idea in the first place!!....my chiropractor told me I would be mad to run the marathon and said not to over do it, listen to your body and really work on the core strength stuff, as so many have advised above!! Hard to do when you have limited time and you are a runner!! So the moral of this tale, is - do not rush, ease in to it, go on a bike, gym, swim but listen to your limbs!! I am still feeding, so this also has some baring, as mentioned already. I can run fairly easily over an hour and a half already but it is the next day that tells, on lower back etc, etc, so take it easy, and gradual!! There's always more marathon's races etc, etc wherease if you get inujred this can go on and on!! Enjoy the great weather. All the best, Sally
Posted: 19/04/2007 at 20:46

Tracey,
I horrified my midwife by running to and from my ante-natal clinics (3 miles) up until 34 weeks (though it got very slow)and swam a mile the night before she arrived! I did a triathlon when she was 6 months and carried on feeding till 18 months or more (it is the only time I have any bust!) and this was my fourth child. So just take it very steady to build back up...the speed your fitness comes back will be very individual, make sure your core muscles and especially your pelvic floor are in good shape and you should be fine...daughter is 16 now and I am still running. All the best, enjoy it and motherhood.
Posted: 20/04/2007 at 12:15

Tracy,
it really is the next day you suffer,make sure that you are taking a good multivitamin aswell as pregnancy+childbirth rob your body of essential nutrients,plus i found that i just did not have the same reserves as i could never fully recover-patchy sleep most nights......
If you are a gym member use everything but their treadmill to build up your cardio fitness,saving your joints for your running days,i got together with a few once-fit pals and we enlisted a personal trainer's help-good technique and form were long gone so he was great for that and he reminded me of all that strength and core stability work that was long neglected......
I can run similar distances to before i had my girls,just really slowly compared to before and i dont get as frustrated as i used to about the fat belly i now sport,time will help.....as well as not eating the choci,
best of luck,enjoy your baby x
Posted: 21/04/2007 at 09:21

Tracy
I had my second son in April last year and am running the LM tomorrow. I built up my training slowly and steadily, and it got rid of my baby weight and more and better than that gave me time to myself too!! I had a c-sect so started exercise 3mths after, and used all the cardio machines at the gym until I felt ok to use the treadmill. I went from 3minutes (!) to 30 minutes in a couple of weeks, then it got better and better from there. I must say listen to your body, and build up slowly. I did exercise when pg but not running as it wasn't comfortable for me. Swimming is also fantastic for getting all over strength and cardio. I am still feeding baby too, so it can be done....!!! Enjoy your little one they grow up too quickly.
Posted: 21/04/2007 at 10:49

Tracy
the key thing is to do as you feel. I ran all the way through both of my pregnancies and felt fine - albeit slower. I also swam a mile every other day. Like many of the ladies of the forum my midwife was horrified with my exercise regime.They thought I was mad but because I knew what my body could do I never took any risks and knew what I was capable of. With both babies I was back on the road a week after their deliveries. (Both deliveries were problem free and relatively quick with no drugs.) Be careful though - and wear lots of supportive underwear and pads!!I raced about three months after and with my second baby I did the London marathon 6 months after he was born and achieved a personal best. Having a baby certainly makes you more motivated.Good luck and don't give up.
Posted: 21/04/2007 at 11:53

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