Running after birth: ‘It’s me, my music and the road’

Photo by Stuart Hendry

'I’ve always run to keep fit. Before Arabella I ran a 10K race in under an hour every couple of months, and I jogged most of the way through my pregnancy. But after Arabella, it became very hard. It was a traumatic birth and it left me very battered.

Once I got the all-clear from my GP, I went for my first run, when Arabella was four months old. It was horrendous. My chest felt tight and it was hard to maintain my breathing. I had to make a real effort to control it without panicking or giving up. I struggled to get to the end of the road.

I was still breastfeeding and knew I had to feed her or use my breast pump before I went out. Running with breasts full of milk was painful and heavy. My stomach felt wobbly and my hips and knees felt loose and weak.

I was shocked I couldn’t do what had come so naturally before. I realised I had to learn to run again, so I got a copy of Runner’s World and joined my local club, Datchet Dashers. I began a run-walk programme. Even that felt tough, but I set a target of running my first half marathon, which I achieved.

After having Roddy, I knew it would take time to regain my fitness. I could no longer procrastinate about running. If I had a free half hour, I got out there. I also joined a gym that had a crèche.

Having children has meant I don’t take my running as a given any more. And I cherish the solitary time, away from home and children. It’s just me, my music and the road. I started to push myself like I never had before.

I feel much stronger since having my children. I don’t give up easily and I appreciate my body and what it can do so much more. I’m better at listening to my body, too. I used to take running for granted, but now I love it in a way I never did before.’