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Cleared For Exercise

August 8, 2013
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Technically, I started exercising a week after delivery– Eric and I went on a few short walks around the neighborhood. By the end of week 2, I was pushing Noah’s stroller 2-3 miles every morning. At week 3, I added a few very short jogging intervals to what’s become our regular morning walks. Week 4 was when I first tried jogging for real. After a long nursing and pumping session, I squeezed into my Nike shorts, ignoring the post-partum muffin top hanging over the elastic, and squished my milk jugs into a Lululemon bra, too small by a size or two, until they resembled two giant pancakes. Out of breath from just putting on my running gear, I started off with a quick rubber band exercise to get my legs a bit activated. After the first five reps of clam shells, my muscles were already feeling the burn, so I cut the sets in half.  I placed Noah into his Bob chariot and we headed outside. I was pathetically slow and after a few minutes felt like quitting.

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When an eighty year old man and his speed-walking buddy passed me by, it was a good indication of my turtle-like speed. But I did not let the speed bother me. Most importantly, I got on my midfoot and stayed there for 1.2 miles (the longest distance since January). I then walked up and down a slight hill for 0.5 miles and jogged back, completing a total of 3.2 miles.

When I was pregnant, I used to dream of running. I’d be back to my pre-pregnancy shape, feeling light and strong, running on a beautiful trail with a slight breeze in the air. I’d wake up smiling only to find a big round anchor of a belly. Soon I’ll be running with Noah, I’d tell myself while counting down the weeks. Well, let me tell you, my first jog was a far cry from those dreams. I panted like a golden retriever on a hot summer day. My side cramped. My legs felt wobbly and my knees ached. But the worst part of all was the discomfort I felt in my chest. I’ve always been blessed in that area so I got accustomed to bouncy runs, but those were nothing compared to the two cantaloupes filled with liquid gold that I had strapped to me now. Not even Dolly Parton sized cleavage would stop this mom from getting her running groove back so I continued my morning jogs all through week 4.

By week 5, I dug up my Garmin 950 GPS to get a real measurement of my slow pace. I clocked 11-11:30 min/mile while completing my regular 3.2 mile loop. (Argh! Just  last summer I was comfortably logging sub-8s. That seemed unreal.)

The best way to improve your running is with interval training. It’s my least favorite thing to do, but it yields great results. Starting at week 6, after getting a formal ok from my doctor to start exercising, I’ve dedicated at least one day a week to interval training. I start off with 0.5 mile warmup at an easy jogging pace. I then run 0.5 miles at a relatively fast speed (I chose 9.30 min/mile for now), followed by 0.25 miles at a jogging pace (11 min/mile). I repeat three times and finish with 0.25 mile cool down. A total of three miles.

In addition to the interval training, I returned to my favorite Body Pump class at the gym. Truth be told, I was extremely excited to see some familiar adult faces, share baby stories and show off  Noah’s photos. The workout was an added bonus. Smile I was expecting the squats and lunges to be significantly easier (since I no longer carry a giant belly), but the difficulty level was about the same. I guess taking 6 weeks off notably deteriorates muscle strength. The ab track was the hardest by far.  

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It took me years to build up enough core strength to hold a minute-long plank (without screaming profanities and only whispering them quietly under my breath) and that was before stretching my abs to accommodate a watermelon. It will take time (of which I have plenty), lots of hard work (which I am willing to give) and patience (which I have very little of) to undo the toll that pregnancy and childbirth had on my body. I might never be as fast, as strong, or as thin as I was before, but that’s a small price to pay for the great satisfaction of making a cute little human being.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2013 11:08 pm

    Whoop Whoop! Way to go Jane! Way to get back out there! 🙂

  2. Kristin permalink
    August 9, 2013 12:13 am

    You’ll get back there, I know it. Major props for getting back out there right away, as anyone with a newborn knows its pretty hard fighting through the sleep deprivation to get out there. Good for you!!

  3. August 9, 2013 5:32 am

    Thanks for your support! It’s been hard. Way harder than I thought it’d be considering I’ve been exercising all through pregnancy, but at the same time it’s the only thing that makes me feel like my old self again. The Texas summer heat does not help 🙂

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