post-natal fitness

Planning for Postpartum Running

Jessica & Little Birds

Jessica & Little Birds

Today @ 38 weeks

Today @ 38 weeks

Little Bird onesie!

Little Bird onesie!

Life is about to change yet again for this Hot Bird as I prepare the arrival of our second little bird on or around September 30th! I can’t wait to meet the little one, but I also can’t wait be able to move again.

As anyone who’s been pregnant knows, these final weeks are the most grueling. You are uncomfortable, anxious and ready to reclaim your body. Additionally, like a lot of people will tell you, the second time around has been a little bit tougher on my body. When it comes to exercise, I had to stop pretty much all impact related activity (including running) beginning at the end of June due to what I call an unhappy right hip/pelvis.

Since then I’ve become an “avid” swimmer only to be lapped quite frequently by women more than twice my age.  It’s kept me sane and in shape, but I am literally counting the days until I get to trade in my swim cap for my running shoes and hit the trails again. 

This is a dangerous time though because it’s easy to forget that I will not only be recovering from labor and delivery, but also from 9 months of growing a baby (and an unhappy hip). All that extra weight and the crazy hormones cause changes to your body that don’t bounce back as quickly as the size of your uterus (which shrinks back up to it’s original size, not tone, in around 6-8 weeks postpartum).  As a result, I have to remind myself that although my body will be baby free by the beginning of October, it won’t be until 2016 when I start to feel whole again on the trails. 

So, it’s time to set realistic goals for my postpartum return. I encourage other expecting runners to do the same. As my guideline, I will follow the advice I provided in my Trail Runner article, “Returning to the Trails After Pregnancy.” In this article, I remind expecting mothers and newly postpartum runners that it’s best to hold off from running for at least 6 weeks. During this time you should work on reconnecting with your core and realigning your center of gravity. Stick to low impact activities and rather than intensity, set goals for frequency. Begin to figure out how exercise fits into your new schedule.

Once ready to start running again, it is essential to avoid overdoing it. Believe me, this is hard, but patience pays off. If you want a race to motivate you through your recovery, choose one that gives you ample time to build back up. Since I’m due at the end of September, I’m looking at a mid to late spring half that I can train for and feel strong about without feeling like I’m pressed for time or racing to get to the starting line feeling ready. This worked really well last time.

After the birth of my daughter two years ago, I waited 6 weeks full weeks to run, then enjoyed two months of running without stressing about my mileage, my time or how I felt. During this time I truly soaked up the ability to run and feel good about it before worrying about how fast or long I was running. By springtime, I was feeling strong. Then, in the fall, a year after my first birth, I PR’d the NYC marathon with a 3:16 finish (6 minutes faster than my previous best).  I credit this success to my patience and a slow, safe return to running postpartum. It is in these final weeks of pregnancy and the weeks immediately following my delivery that I will need to remember this!

Interview with a Fitness Professional

This week we bring you Megan Caldwell, proud owner of FIT4MOM Cedar Mill, offering amazing pre- and post-natal fitness classes in the northwest. Originally from Connecticut (we love our east coast transplants!), Megan currently resides just outside Portland, OR.  As a former educator, and now a mom to two young boys, running fitness classes for women allows her to combine three of her greatest passions: her passion for fitness, her passion for teaching and her passion for being able to spend time with my children.  Megan currently offers Stroller Strides, a bootcamp style workout for moms to do with their stroller aged children, and Body Back, a results-based program without the kiddos that includes small group training, nutritional guidance and accountability, pre and post assessments and individualized goal setting.  We met Megan last fall when Jessica and her daughter fell in love with her Stroller Strides classes and her overall training philosophy!

Why do you like working with runners?
I have always said that getting out for a run is my “drug of choice.” Running is one of the best medicines, and being able to share this with others has been great. I’ve had the opportunity to work with all levels of runners – from those who have literally never run, to those who have run competitively. I love that running can be a common thread between any two people, no matter what their level is, what other interests they may have, their age, etc. I also love seeing the impact that strength and conditioning can have on runner’s results, no matter what level the runner begins at. One of my favorite clients, a mom to now 3-year-old twins, used to say, “I’m not a runner,” and would casually push her kiddos behind the group. When given the tools to make herself stronger, and the encouragement to give it a shot, I’d now classify her not only as a runner, but also a sprinter. She truly rocks it, and often leads the group in running! Seeing transformations such as this is truly inspiring.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Allow running to be FUN. Although this may seem like a “duh” to those who have always enjoyed running, for those who have not, it’s a great reminder. For the competitive runner (whom I used to be, and I guess still sometimes am!), it is important realize that running is more than just a time or a pace or a result. Finding a compatible running buddy or group WILL keep running fun. I’ve learned running can be a common thread to develop lifelong friendships.

Lastly, I think being able to have fun with running stems from making sure you are in a pair of shoes that works for your body and training purpose. I got fitted for a pair of trainers my first year of college and have been running in the same shoe model since (pain and injury free!)

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Although I still love just “getting out the door” for a run, that’s harder these days with two small children. I’ve come to really enjoy both at home and group HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training). Combining spurts of cardio, strength and core, incorporating both body weight exercises and those with free weights or resistance bands, it’s been a great way to gain strength and keep fit. Not only can I get a great workout in in a half hour or less but as a runner strength training has not only helped make me a stronger, faster runner, but also assists in injury prevention.

What is your favorite post workout meal?
I LOVE a good smoothie! I’ve found smoothies to be a great, easy way to get some protein in after a workout, as well as sneak in some other great nutrients! My smoothies always include non-fat plain Greek yogurt and frozen fruit, either coconut water or low fat milk and a handful of leafy greens (either spinach or kale usually). I then like to switch it up, sometimes adding in oatmeal, chia seeds, avocado, you name it, I’ve probably given it a shot! If I’ve been out on an exceptionally long run or completed a tough workout I may throw in a scoop of protein powder.

When did you start running?
If you were to ask my parents, they’d probably say I began running around the age of one, and haven’t stopped! As an avid soccer player and basketball player from a young age, I joined track in middle school merely as a means to stay in shape for my team sports. Fast forward a few years, after a successful high school career as a three-sport athlete, I went on to compete in soccer and track in college. Primarily as a sprinter and jumper, after one season of collegiate soccer, I decided to focus my energies on track and field where I competed four years at Tufts University in Boston as a heptathlete (think decathlon, but for women.) College track is really where I think I found my love for running. Post college I decided to give long distance running a shot (something I swore I’d never do!) Over the past 10 years I’ve run two full marathons, a few halfs and many, many 5ks and 10ks. I’m looking forward to my first race post-baby #2 – Portland’s famous Shamrock run in March!