Running Tips for the Post-Baby Mama

Ali Wilkinson

Given my blog is called Run, Knit, Love you can probably guess that I think running is pretty great. You can do it anywhere with very little equipment. It’s great stress relief. It gives you a good workout in a relatively short amount of time. You can see clear improvement with hard work. I could go on.

But I know not everyone loves running. Running can be discouraging when you’re first starting up, or if you’re coming back to it after a long break. I was a newbie runner once too, and have come back to it after three pregnancies. So I know how that feels. But I’ve also learned some good tips for making the transition to running a little less painful.

  1. Get a good sports bra. You don’t need a lot to run, but you do need a decent sports bra. True story – once I went for a run, came home, was hanging out with the kids a bit before taking a shower. Then when I finally went to take a shower realized that my boob had actually fallen UNDER the bra. Um. Yeah. Luckily I wear a shirt when I run. So. Get a good sports bra. It makes a difference.
  2. Get your stride checked. Most running stores will check your stride for free. Even if you’ve had this done before, you may want to do so again after having a baby. Your feet, hips, stance – pretty much everything – can be different post-baby. Also while we’re on the subject of shoes – they should be replaced every 300-500 miles. Insider tip: you can tell when it’s time to replace them when you can easily bend the shoe backwards. You can also tell because you may start getting injuries. Don’t skimp on shoes.
  3. Give your body time to heal. It can be so tempting to want to get your body back, but your body has been through a lot! Most doctors recommend waiting until after the six week postpartum doctor’s visit before doing any high-impact exercise. From experience, this seems like a good benchmark. I tried going back too soon before, and it ended up putting me further back than if I’d waited the six weeks.
  4. Have a goal. I find it motivating to have something to be working toward. Right now I’m doing the 2015 challenge (2015 miles in 2015). But any goal from a 10 minute mile to a 5K to running 4 days a week is great! If you do train for a race, I really highly recommend Hal Higdon’s free running training programs. I ran my first marathon based on his beginner marathon plan and felt totally prepared.
  5. Stretch. I need to take this advice myself. When I do stretch, I feel better. And get injured less.
  6. If something hurts, stop. Don’t try to run through it. It will lead to more days off recovering than if you’d just walked it home.
  7. Be prepared for some weird stuff. The first month or so back to running involved a lot of emergency trips to the bathroom and other fun with bodily fluids. It’s normal. And it will get better.
  8. Find what works for you. Some people listen to music when they run, some need quiet. Some like to run alone, some with a friend. I usually do a mix of podcasts or silence, and run a few times a week with a friend while running the rest solo. I like mixing it up a bit.
  9. Don’t compare yourself to what you used to be – or to anyone else either. If you used to run, it can be discouraging to get back into it and be minutes per mile slower than you once were. Well mama, you birthed a baby. Give yourself some slack. It will come back, give it time.
  10. Don’t give up. It gets easier. My husband likes to say give it two years before deciding whether you like running. That may be slight exaggeration, but there will be a point when you can run 5 miles without feeling like you’ve been up all night with a crying baby. (Unless you’ve been up all night with a crying baby.) You can do it!

What advice would you add?

This post was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media, LLC.


Ali Wilkinson lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and three small children. She runs to avoid completely losing her mind. So far this plan is having moderate success. Her writing has appeared on Scary Mommy, The Mid and Sweatpants and Coffee, among others. She writes about trash-talking preschoolers, her messy house and parenting at runknitlove.