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Runner’s Column: pregnancy, recovery, and running

Runner's column: pregnancy, recovery, and running

Our writer Lisa Chase gave birth to her daughter this past spring. We’re beyond excited for her and her family (though we have missed her words of wisdom around these parts!) Below she shares her experience on pregnancy, recovery, and how having a baby changed her relationship with – and views on – running. 

When I found out I was pregnant early last summer I vowed to only keep running as long as it felt good and was fun. Beyond that, I had few expectations considering it was my first pregnancy and I didn’t know what I was in for. While I knew I wanted to stay active, I didn’t want to set unrealistic goals.

Of course, I had heard of women who ran up until they went into labor but I didn’t expect to be one of them – until I was! I had a scheduled c-section because my little girl decided she wanted to come into the world feet first. Initially, I was a bit bummed about the whole thing, but honestly, what can you do? And it turned out to be kind of nice. My sister was able to fly in and the day before my surgery, we went out for a slow two-mile run. I was a sight to see, waddle running my way around the park. (The picture above was taken on that run.)

Throughout those 39 weeks and one day, every run I took made me very thankful for my body and its ability to continue charging the running paths – even with the extra weight and the constant need to pee. And although not all of those runs were perfect, for the most part they felt pretty good, and (perhaps more importantly) they were fun.

While I’m not sure if all that running would have made my labor any easier or if I would have been able to give birth naturally, I am certain it helped in my recovery. I was able to leave the hospital after two days and took a very, very slow walk down the street on day five. By two weeks I was able to walk the mile to our local coffee shop, and by four weeks I was strolling the 3-mile path around the lake. Listening to my doctors advice, I waited six weeks for the all clear before running, and I was definitely itching to get to it by that point.

That first postpartum run was magical. Sure, it was slow and I looked like a newborn deer finding my legs with how delicately I was treating my incision, but there is nothing in the world like that first run back. My heart beating, the wind at my face, and the morning air in my lungs – I’m pretty sure I shed a tear or two in that first mile.

It was the lightest, most freeing run I’ve ever had.

Since that first postpartum run, I’ve slowly built my mileage and speed back up. It hasn’t always been easy. I’m not nearly as fast as I was last year, and learning to run with a stroller and a dog is like a complicated, frustrating puzzle. But we’re making it work.

Pregnancy and the recovery process have taught me a lot about my running. I have a new appreciation for the sport and for those individuals who continue to run even when life is hard. I’m excited to share my passion for running with my daughter, and when I see her enjoying the scenery from her stroller, it puts an instant smile on my face. Hopefully, I’ve created a little running love in her as well.

Written by Lisa Chase.