Running a Marathon After Having a Baby

August 15th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life

While I was pregnant I often though about how nice it would be to run again. I stopped running around 25 weeks as it was just too uncomfortable to me. I didn’t have any specific time in mind for when I’d want to start training for my fourth marathon, but I knew I would eventually.

Running a marathon after having a baby

Running a marathon after having a baby is a huge undertaking. Not only do you have the usual stress and time commitment from regular marathon training, but you could also be dealing with physical postpartum issues, and figuring out how to train around little ones schedule.

As an Army wife I can’t rely on having my husband around during training. That means I’ve done most of my runs with my 11 month old son in our jogging stroller. Thankfully, he loves going on walks and runs so that hasn’t been a problem, but running with the stroller can get tiresome. The longest he’s been in it is two hours, so I’ve arranged my training schedule so that I can do longer runs when Travis is available to watch him.

I did my longest postpartum run yesterday. I ran 15 miles and split it up into two runs. I ran ten miles in the morning and another five miles after lunch.

It sucked.

IMG_5371

As I was running I realized a few things:

  • I was missing out on three hours of family time
  • I was feeling some aches and pains in my hip area that I never had pre-baby
  • I just wasn’t feeling it

It was the first time in a very long time where I was truly forcing my body to do something it had zero desire or energy to do. Honestly, most of my runs have felt like that over the last few weeks. I love speed work, and I love running three to five miles, but anything six and over has just been a struggle.

At this moment in my life a marathon just doesn’t seem worth it. I’m still going to run the Equniox (and Travis is joining me now!) but that will be my last marathon for a while.

FullSizeRender (2)

We are hoping to have baby #2 later next year, so I won’t be running long distances for a while anyway. With Winter quickly approaching here in Alaska I’ll start doing more speed work and short runs on the treadmill.

With the marathon one month out my plan is to get in one more long run of 18 miles, and try to do 8-12 miles every other weekend. I’ll aim for two shorter runs during the week. The Equinox is a strange marathon. Many sources online call it one of the most difficult in the US (there is 3000 feet of elevation gained in three miles), but locals will say it’s ‘pretty easy’ and many people walk the entire thing.

Reading the history of the race made me feel better about my ‘train to finish’ approach. The race started in 1963

As noted in the September 23rd, 1963 Fairbanks Daily News Miner, “The girls, including 64 high-schoolers, traveled mostly in packs, and if one hadn’t the knowledge a race was talking place, he might have believed the girls to be off on a two-week camping trip.  In each group at least one girl was equipped with a transistor radio.  One 16-year old, with a radio as big as an overnight bag bouncing on a shoulder strap, puffed happily along the trail listening to Wee Willie Walley.” Other girls carried extra shoes, sneakers, warm clothes, lunches, first aid kits and other paraphernalia … one was seen stopped along the course as she carefully applied fresh makeup.”

Most locals have told me it started as a walking race. The first woman to finish in 1963 finished in over six hours! While I don’t have any specific goal in mind I would like to come in around 6.5 hours (mostly because it will be my parents last day in town and I don’t want to spend the entire day running.)

One perk of yesterdays 15 miler? The post-run Mexican food.
FullSizeRender (3)

How did running change for you after having kids?

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Responses

  • I stopped running soon after I got pregnant – my energy levels were low and walking and hiking felt much better for my body. And I feel the same way now with our ten month old. I love taking her out on walks and hikes every day, and don’t miss running at all. Maybe one day I’ll get back into it, but for now I’m enjoying my life and my body as it is.

    • Erica House says:

      I thought I’d miss running, but I’m quite content when I run just 2 short runs a week. I’ve been craving heavy lifting! Hoping to get into that more after the marathon.

  • Sara says:

    It’s so hard!! I usually only run for an hour with the jogging stroller. If I didn’t have coaching I don’t think I would be able to train for Chicago. Having a group and a morning away from Allie is a huge help.

  • Meg says:

    Interesting! I used to be a runner pre-pregnancy but was more into swimming and resistance training during pregnancy. After baby’s birth I noticed this odd pain and stiffness in one of my knees – more like around the ligaments rather than the joint itself and this feeling like it’s loose. Recently, 11 months post-partum, I tried running again. It wasn’t effortless like it used to be and after 3 sessions found that a lot of my joints, including in my spine and hips were feeling achy and loose and unstable. After a bit of googling I found some mention here and there of relaxin still being in the system if breastfeeding. I don’t know how true that is, but if it is, it definitely jives with my experience. I am still breastfeeding and my joints do feel looser even without the running.

    We too would like to try for baby #2 but this experience has made me realise that until we wean completely I don’t think my body will be back to baseline. I feel like I’d like to take some time, maybe half a year, after weaning to get my hormones back and nutrient levels and fitness back up before trying. I’d like to be in peak health again as I was before baby #1, but maybe that’s unrealistic with a toddler? Are you doing anything special to get nutrient reserves, particularly of minor nutrients back up before trying for #2?

    • Throughout the last part of my pregnancy, I looked forward to getting back into running. I had these grand ideas that I’d sign up for all of these races and whatnot, and while I go running twice a week, I have NO desire to train for anything and am perfectly content with my 1-3 miles, haha. We’re (well, more like ME, lol) are hoping to start trying for baby #2 (and last!) when Savannah is about a year old, and though we have a while, I don’t want to mess anything up. I give you mad props for training for a marathon with a military husband. It’d be hard to find the time to do that in the first place, and the time that you do have together is so valuable (though I believe we all need time for ourselves).

      • Erica House says:

        I’ve basically stopped training for the marathon next month. I just hate the idea of long runs now. Literally, hate. I don’t want to spend 3-4 hours running by myself while Travis and the baby play and go do stuff. Travis and I are going to walk/run the marathon together and basically treat it more as a hike.

    • Erica House says:

      I’ve definitely read that ligaments stay loose as long as you are nursing! Thankfully I haven’t had any issues with that. I’m not doing anything special to replenish nutrients. From everything I’ve read most women are fine to TTC again after a year. I’m still taking prenatals, and I think working out and eating healthy(ish) will make me in good shape for conceiving again.

  • Carina says:

    I’m impressed! I’ve committed to running a half marathon in October and I need to get my act together and train seriously for it. My little Munchkin is three months now so I don’t have any excuse not to train harder! :)

    • Erica House says:

      It’s hard! A half marathon is definitely manageable though. I just can’t imagine ever training for a full again unless he was in school.