After 14 weeks without a single run (and let’s be honest, several weeks before that of 1 “run” a week which more resembled a walk than a run), I RAN! As of Saturday, Siena was 6 weeks old and on Friday I had my postpartum checkup with my OB-GYN. I was cleared for running and other activities and I could not wait to lace up my shoes and get out the door for that first run. I think honestly I could have run earlier (and I actually have been doing some exercises, more on that in another post), but I didn’t feel comfortable doing so before the six week mark. I wanted to give my body time to recover properly and spend some time strengthening my pelvic floor and core before doing so.
Since Siena is too young for me to run with her in the stroller, I convinced Mike to go into work early and come home early so that I could go for a run before the sun goes down at 5 p.m. (boo daylight savings time). I was already dressed and ready to go when he got home and I nearly flew out the door. After hearing about fellow new mom’s first runs back after baby, I knew that this run wouldn’t be easy, but I was couldn’t wait to experience it myself. I decided to wear my Garmin so that I’d have a record of where I started and could track my progress. I knew the numbers wouldn’t be pretty but I had zero expectations about pace going into the run.
I chose to run the 3.1ish mile loop on the trails near my house. It’s not an easy run, with a very, very steep 1/3 mile hill at the start and finish and some rollers throughout. It’s also on dirt which makes things harder. Choosing a harder route for my first run actually made my slow pace easier to handle, since I knew I’d have to hike the hill on the way up and take it easy on the way down to avoid falling.
Once I started running out of my neighborhood, I actually had the thought that it felt a little easier than I expected. I was running slow but I was surprised that my breathing wasn’t too hard quite yet. I tried to run up the hill as much as I could and quickly my lungs were burning and my legs felt heavy. Once I got to the top of the hill, I made a mini goal of running at least a full mile without stopping. Luckily, about half of the mile is at a slight decline which made this goal a little easier to achieve, but it still felt difficult! I ended up going even more than a mile until I hit a steep hill, which I chose to walk. I ended up taking a few walk breaks after that during steep sections but ended up running almost the entire 3.1 miles. As I entered my neighborhood, I picked up the pace and “sprinted” to the finish. It felt pretty amazing to move my legs like that again and I even enjoyed the burning lungs.
A year ago I would never have imagined finding so much joy in such a short, slow run, but there was really nothing better than being back out on the trail. The solitude was welcome and peaceful. It was a wonderful reminder of why I love to run so much. And honestly, after chasing a BQ for so long, it’s kind of nice to just run for the joy of running. It’ll also be fun to track my progress and see big changes in my pace again, just like when I was a beginner. I have no expectations of getting back to where I was anytime soon, but I’m certainly looking forward to the journey.
Have you ever had to take an extended period off of running? How was the first run back?