Before I started running I would have laughed if someone told me I would become a long distance runner after having kids. I was not able to run around the block without feeling winded. Two pregnancies, bedrest, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, sleep deprivation (did I mention, sleep deprivation?) were all valid reasons why I couldn’t start running. For proof, I have a blog post from my personal page that I wrote before I became a runner— you can check that out here.
I feel passionately about running for my mental health. Self-care is a part of my daily routine. That may be running, writing, reading or binge-watching Friends but I am careful that my mental health needs are being met.
I know from first hand experience running is easier said than done— which leads me to my new tips for how to become a mother-runner.
Join a run club
This was step one. I had no idea what to do besides place one foot in front of the other, and even that was confusing to me. So I joined a club of other moms who were also breastfeeding, also sleep deprived and also felt less than confident about their running skills. I enjoyed every minute of the mom workouts because they all “got it” and understood how important their self-care was. And I learned the basics of running from an expert.
Start with Intervals
This was tough to understand but starting with intervals is very important so you don’t injure yourself. Start with 1 minute on, one minute off— or even drop that to 30 seconds. I didn’t have a timer to begin with so I would estimate about a minute with my music. Estimating my time based on music became habit and I was finding that a minute was a bit short. I increased to 2 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. The goal for a beginner runner is 5 mins of running, 1 minute of walking. You’ll be surprised how fast you get there.
Speak to a Pelvic Floor Specialist
You know that feeling after you have a baby where you can’t really jump…. or laugh…. or sneeze without having a little wee come out? Thats a real thing and it can be really hard to run if your pelvic floor is not healed from having a baby. There are many physiotherapists who specialize in pelvic floor assessment and they can give you exercises to do so that you feel comfortable running. They can also tell you if they think your muscles and connective tissues are ready for running—- do this! I don’t want you to hurt yourself!
Focus on Breathing
Some new runners find breathing and running at the same time difficult. Typically, however, people need to breathe in order to continue living. Take a few minutes before you run to take some big breathes and focus on what you’re doing. Anxiety, mom guilt and exhaustion can make us breathe with the tippy top of our lungs and never really get our lungs truly filled with oxygen. When you’re running for your initial few minutes, slow down your pace so that you can control your body and your breathe.
Sign Up for a Race
Set your goal for 12+ weeks from now and sign up for a race. Even better if its a charity that you support. This will motivate you and running for a cause will take away some of the mom guilt you feel for getting out of the house. “I have to run, hunny, its for *insert charity here*”. Once you have your goal race, schedule in times to run. I don’t mean “on Tuesday I will run”. I mean ” Dearest husband, when you get home from work at 5 o’clock on Tuesday, I am going to go run for 20 minutes”. If its written down you are more likely to do it.
Post it to Social Media
Create a hashtag (#motherrunner, #samruns2017) etc, so that you can follow your progress. Socal media will be the extra motivation that keeps you going. You will look back at the photos and be really impressed with how far you’ve come. Remember that it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. You’re a gorgeous woman who grew a human and you’re making an effort to spend time on you. No one should fault you for that.
Remember what the biggest payoffs are from being active and a mom:
You kids will see you taking time for yourself and know that your mental health is important. They will also see you being active and want to be active themselves.
Self-care is a basic human need. Westjet always tells passengers to put on an oxygen mask first before putting one on someone else. The bottom line is, we are useless to others unless we are breathing ourselves. It’s important!
“Don’t worry about kids not listening, worry about them always watching”. – aa
If you would Sam to speak to a group about self care, message her through the website here
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