*Of course you should only start you're running once you are recovered from the birth itself and you have had the all-clear from your GP.
1. An armour-plated bra! Well, not literally. But the chances are your chest will be the largest it has ever been so make sure you get measured (again) and that you have enough support. You will need a lot!
2. Don't throw away your pregnancy running clothes just yet. If you were able to run through your pregnancy then you probably have a supply of 'larger' tights/shorts and baggy t-shirts (which weren't so baggy when they stretched round your 7 month bump). You will likely still need these until you've managed to lose the pregnancy pounds. ("Will they ever go away?" I hear you cry). I like anything black and baggy.
3. The supportive tights. Again, in black.
When you have a post-pregnancy tummy, especially the second time around, you will need extra support around your stomach until your abdominal muscles start to join together again and you're skin regains a little of its former tightness. It is such a horrible feeling to have parts of your body wobbling around when you are trying to run. And it's actually quite sore. So many tights rely on a stretchy waistband. I found that these sort of tights end up slipping down under your tummy and don't support it at all. I have fallen completely in love with my X-Bionic tights. They support your whole stomach without an uncomfortable waistband and due to their targeted compression they give you the support you need without squashing you like other compression pieces might do.
4. The target outfit.
|Channeling my inner Anna Frost|
I have long wanted some Salomon S-Lab Exo apparel but I could never justify the price. When Salomon brought out this new blue version of the skirt and tank earlier this year I thought I should treat myself. I needed something to help motivate me to get out the door, get running, and lose the baby weight; and what better way than to spend a ridiculous amount of money on some VERY pretty clothes. Yes, I know, I'm such a girl. But my body has been through a heck of a lot and I deserve a wee present.
When I first bought it I couldn't even get the shorts half way up my thighs. I could have cried. But, slowly I am losing the weight and they go all the way to the top now, although it is far too snug a fit to even contemplate running in them yet. And there is no way I will wear the top until I have something that resembles abs again.
5. New shoes(?) and a gait analysis.
You body goes through a lot of changes when you're pregnant so it is important to get a gait analysis once you are running again to ensure you are still wearing the correct shoes. It's probably a good idea to repeat the gait analysis 12 months later as you body may have changed again in the post-natal period. It's always good to know you are wearing the right shoes and ideally this should help prevent unnecessary injuries.
6. iPod shuffle
When you are struggling to find energy and motivation you can't go wrong with an up-tempo beat to get your legs moving. Or if you're not a music person a good podcast can also provide great inspiration when you are out running. My favourites are Talk Ultra, the WHWR podcast and Trail Nation.
7. The target race.
Finding a target race provides great motivation to get out the door. Don't just pick any old race though. It helps if it means something as you are more likely to stick to your training plan if it feels worthwhile. Make sure you have a training plan, and try your best to stick to it. It can be so easy to let an entire week pass by with no running when you are so busy being a new parent. At the same time, if you miss a run or have to cut one short, don't feel bad about it. There are far more important things happening in your life right now.
8. A supportive partner, family and friends.
This is so important if you want to run again after you've had a baby. Being a new mum is hard, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's so full on at times that you can easily forget about yourself and having some me time, but it's important to make sure you get some. And that's where you need to have supportive people around you. You need them to make sure you are taking that time to spend some time away from your child/children just doing something for yourself. You need someone to push you out of the door and to encourage you to take that first step into your run. You also need them for point number 9. (see below)
It's simple, unless you have the most tolerant of babies, who would happily live in a baby jogger, you are going to need some form of childcare whilst you are running. That's when you need understanding partners, family or friends. Unless you live close to family or friends who are willing to give up their time on a regular basis then the majority of that care will fall on the shoulders of your partner. If you are lucky like me, you live with a fellow runner and they will understand all too well how important your running is. Training for an ultra however means a lot of time on your feet so you need to find your own way to make this work. And of course, then there is the issue of a mother's (parent's) guilt, but that's a whole different blog post of it's own.
Ah, sleep. Beautiful sleep. I can barely remember it. Sleep is so, so important and yet for many new parents, myself included, it is so so scarce. People get tired I'm sure of hearing new parents complain about their lack of sleep, but unless you have experienced it you really can't appreciate the huge impact it has on your life and your health. Sleep deprivation is expected in the early months of parenthood, but for some unlucky parents it can carry on for years. And it hurts. You are in a constant zombie-like state, devoid of energy, zest or motivation. You have to get what you can, when you can, but it's not always possible. It's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes and you have to deal with the hand you are given. I haven't had a single full night's sleep since September 2011. I long for the night when I have two children sleeping through the night - I'll be one hell of a runner I'm sure once I get that ;-)
Good luck to all the new mums and dads out there trying to fit running into their new family lives.
It's all worth it for these smiles