Starting from worse than scratch: My first run since I gave birth

During my pregnancy, I was told to stop running after about the first month. I had complications and was considered “high risk” to start because of my age (I turned 40 two weeks after the baby was born), so the last run I’d taken was in early October 2015.

Until today.

I decided when I got up this morning to leave Baby M with her granny for a few minutes while I took a short, 1-mile run. I thought it was going to be a little hard, but I was unprepared for exactly how difficult it was.

First of all, my course from the house took me a half mile up a hill and then back down that hill. Within the first, say, 300 feet, both of my hips reminded me that they’d been knotted up for a long time and also had spread in the last year — they complained loudly. I stopped to stretch and, thankfully, my hips opened up about a quarter of a mile up the hill.

That’s when my legs let me know exactly how poor my nutrition has been lately. They cramped up, but this time I kept plugging. My lungs were next — I had not done anything strenuous (other than pushing out a baby, of course), in way too long, and apparently my long walks had not prepared me for breathing with purpose.

By the time I made it to the top of the hill, I was all but shouting mantras at myself about being able to do anything for two minutes and just having to get to the next driveway. I’m sure Mom’s neighbors loved hearing that. I figured the downhill would be much easier, and it wasn’t as hard as pushing up the hill. But I definitely felt the burn even from controlling my run back down, and by the time I reached home I was dizzy and disappointed. I’d taken 14 minutes to do a mile?! That was deflating.

So, I learned a few lessons today, mostly that I need to eat much better and get back out on the road regularly. If I ever want to run safely with my jogging stroller, I have to find my way back to some semblance of fitness. I also realized that I have to let go of what I considered “normal” a year ago. My body has been through some pretty dramatic changes since then, and I need to honor the rebuilding process as much as I honored the original building.

Most of all, I learned that I do still love to move and especially to run. I felt like myself out there today, deep down, and I recognized the runner inside me hiding beneath the labored breathing and sweat. I’ve missed her, and I’m glad I found her.

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