Struggling with Postpartum Running Motivation
I want to talk about postpartum running motivation for a second… or more accurately about the lack of running motivation postpartum. Because that is what I experienced and I want to put this out there for any other moms that might be feeling guilty about not “bouncing back” to their old running selves quickly after baby.
Towards the end of my pregnancy with Lavinia I was itching to train hard and race again. I had had a relatively easy pregnancy and was still enjoying the short runs I was able to do a few times a week but I was just longing for that heart pounding, lungs burning, legs screaming kind of running that is a no-go during pregnancy. I had every intention of “bouncing back” to running quickly after her arrival and had made specific plans for a comeback. I envisioned being in good enough shape by Thanksgiving to race the Dana Point Turkey Trot 10K with a legitimate chance to place in the top 3 and signed up for the Surf City Half Marathon in February thinking that I would be in a place to train for a PR by then.
But then, Liv was born and changed EVERYTHING! All of the plans I had made while I was pregnant were mostly forgotten while I just enjoyed new motherhood. Yes, I started running again about 3 weeks after she was born but every run was short and easy and I just plodded along for months without a plan. I didn’t think about doing workouts, I didn’t research coaches, and I definitely wasn’t loading up my racing calendar like I thought I would.
Surprisingly, I was more than okay with all of this. There were so many adjustments I was going through the first few months that looking back I don’t think I had the brain capacity, physical energy or time required to train seriously. I had a new baby and a new job that went from part-time to full-time just when I thought I was getting into a good routine, I was taking classes for my Master’s program and Henri was working long hours or traveling for work for long periods of time. I never lost the desire to run PRs in the future but I was legitimately okay if it took a little longer than I had previously planned.
Now, I want to say that during those 9 months I was completely happy and comfortable with the shape my running life had taken on but that would be a lie. Sometimes, especially when I would go on Instagram, I would feel guilty. I would see other new moms who were training hard, running races and seemingly getting right back in the running groove. And I would feel bad that I had “only” run 5 miles easy that morning. I would see other gals my age that had chosen not to have babies yet that were killing it on the track and road and running times that I would LOVE to run. And I would feel bad that I hadn’t put on my racing flats/spikes in years, and maybe couldn’t even have told you where they were!
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these posts because I honestly did love seeing everyone’s accomplishments and following along with some fast, dedicated ladies but every once in a while the guilt did creep in. A couple of times I tried to force the motivation, I would do a workout here or there or do a little research into future races, but the motivation just didn’t stick. I wasn’t until I hit about 9 months postpartum that I felt the itch to train hard and race seriously again. Finally!!! It felt like a switch had been flipped and I was ready to take on new running goals and the training required to achieve them.
If the last 9 months have taught me anything, it’s patience. To all my fellow mother runners out there that may or may not be struggling with postpartum running motivation I urge you to persevere with patience. Patience with your new baby as they adjust to life on the outside, patience with your spouse and partner as you learn how to raise your little one together, patience with your body in returning to its old self (or not – I still have some gnarly varicose veins on my left calf that I’m sure are here to stay) and above all patience with yourself as you find your new rhythms and routines.
Running will always be there for you when you are ready to return to it – and if you wait until you are truly ready it will be a most joyful return indeed.
Oh, and P.S. you will have the cutest little cheerleader(s) ever waiting for you at the finish line!
*photos from the Laguna Hills Memorial Day 5K (taken by my coach Andres and my husband Henri)