In 2010 I was in the best shape of my life. As I crossed the finish line at Ironman Louisville tears filled my eyes. I had crossed an item off my bucket list. It was a painful, 15 hour ordeal, but it was done. If you are like me, it was time to look down the list and start working towards the next goal. So I picked an equally arduous sequel: having a baby.
I always thought that I would run till the day the baby was due, but as I got bigger muscles started getting loose and out of whack. I decided to be a smart athlete and I swam and biked to the best of my body's ability.
And then the ordeal began. Labor? No, labor was the easiest part!! After 15 hours of writhing in pain and no sign of the little guy I put my ego aside (more for the sake of my husband and mom, who were getting more upset with every contraction/mean thing I said to them) and I got the epidural. Then, I rested and prepared for the finish. Another 9 hours, later we started pushing and I got to hold the best thing that has ever happen to me.
I say labor was easy because the lack of sleep and the inability to exercise regularly during the year that followed was way harder for me (and my husband). On the occasional days I tried to run, I felt everything move in ways that it shouldn't (the curse of being a physical therapist!), so I decided to work on strengthening instead. TRX was my go-to sanity pill because it made me feel like I had a goal that I could conquer (I don't recommend it unless you have some understanding about form and body compensations because you can hurt yourself).
The real reason I write this blog is that in my years as a practicing physical therapist I have seen many, MANY athletes who started running after having a baby which, 2-5 years later, led to injury All around me, good friends are having babies and "running" to get back into shape. I more than anyone understand this desire for normalcy, routine, endorphins, etc. but I urge you, YES YOU to do some strengthening, even if it's just a few exercises before and after the run to make sure you can stay injury free for a long time. Better still, look on the APTA website for a OCS or SCS PT near you and get them to look at your running form and decide if you are strong enough to run the distances you think you can handle.
This Blog is going to take readers, step by step, through the process of getting stronger. I will keep it brief and simple and offer 1-2 tips a week (depending what the kid and work allow), which can help you identify weaknesses and work on them. I will also try and read the latest research and give you a quick, down and dirty synopsis of the article. I will provide the link so if you are nursing for the next hour you could read the article yourself. However, if you have 10 seconds to scroll through the best starter exercise for your hips, core, hamstrings, etc., you'll have them right in front of you as well.
In my perfect world every mom, soon-to-be mom or person who is new to endurance sports will have a fun, injury-free career. So lift up your glass (i'm done pumping today!!), and stay tuned for the next post!