Postpartum Running

I think it’s challenging for most women to navigate running after having a baby. My postpartum running journey has taught me a lot and I wanted to share some of the things that have helped me to resume consistent running after the birth of my baby girl.

  1. Starting slow and building gradually: This is important whenever there has been a significant break in training. For me, running during pregnancy was really hard and very inconsistent. After I gave birth, I was eager to lace up my running shoes and I completed my first run 1 week postpartum (not recommended by the doctor but my body responded well to this). I started running 5+ days per week but limited myself to very short runs at first (beginning with 1.5 mile runs and increasing 1 mile each week per run until I had reached my desired daily mileage).
  2. Being flexible: I think this has been the most valuable thing that I have learned from postpartum running. Breastfeeding, lack of sleep, nap schedules, and all the other changes that come with having a baby have taught me to have flexible expectations for myself. Rather than laying out my weekly training plan with set mileage goals each day (ie. “5 mile run” or “7 mile run”), I now give myself a range for my daily mileage goal (ie. “4-6 mile run” or “7-9 mile run”). This has allowed me to feel successful while also accommodating the joys and challenges of parenthood. I have also needed to apply flexibility to my bigger running goals. After experiencing diminished milk production at 6 months postpartum due to marathon training, I chose to stop training (my milk production returned to normal immediately after I stopped) and my current running does not include speed workouts or the long runs characteristic of marathon training. My current running focuses on fitness/health rather than racing/performance.
  3. Maximizing benefits: Running makes me feel good… not always during my run but afterward, I always find myself feeling more relaxed and happier as well as more patient and present. When I started postpartum running, I ran solo and it was my brief time to decompress and get some space. This worked great for me at first but it wasn’t long before I started running with a stroller so that I could take my baby with me. Now all of our runs are stroller runs. Not only is running with my baby a nice way to share my passion, but I have also found that it can be a very relaxing activity for her (oftentimes her longest and deepest naps occur during runs) and she is usually happier afterward.

Running with Gratitude

I just finished reading Deena Kastor’s book, Let Your Mind Run (which I highly recommend… it’s a great book). In her book, Deena spoke about how gratitude transformed her mind and running. Inspired by this reading, I wanted to share a simple gratitude practice to help you improve your mental and physical training this week. This is an excellent practice for runners but, more importantly, it is an excellent practice for people. Focusing on gratitude can improve mood, focus, and energy.


This practice is simple which is partly what makes it so beautiful. Using the list below for each day this week, identify five things that you are grateful for each day. You can form this list throughout your day or solely focus on it at the end of your day. Challenge yourself to identify things that are different from what you noted on your gratitude list the day before. Utilize the follow-up questions to record other important observations about yourself and this activity.


Gratitude List

I am grateful for:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Follow-up questions:

  • Was this activity challenging or easy today?
  • What did I notice about my thinking today?
  • Did this activity affect my thinking?
  • Did this activity affect my behaviors/ performance?
  • Are there any other observations that I want to note pertaining to my thinking, behaviors, or this activity today?

Legs Up the Wall Pose

This pose provides both mental and physical benefits and can be a great resource for runners.


Contraindications

This pose should be avoided during menstruation or if you have serious neck issues, back issues, or eye issues such as glaucoma.

Benefits

As both an inversion and a restorative pose, Legs Up the Wall Pose offers many benefits including alleviating challenges with:

  • Arthritis
  • Blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Varicose veins
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Migraines
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Digestive problems
  • Mild depression
  • Urinary disorders
  • Menopause
  • Tight hamstrings

Props

Restorative poses are supported and, as shown in the image above, support in this pose can include blankets, a strap, an eye pillow, and a sandbag.

Sequencing for this pose

This pose is typically sequenced near the end of a yoga practice, often just before pranayama or corpse pose. Preparation poses include hero pose, standing forward bend pose, reclining bound angle pose, and bridge pose.

Getting into this pose

  • The first step to getting into this pose is setting up your support. Lay your yoga mat on the floor with the short end next to the wall. Next, place up to 3 folded blankets along the short edge of your mat along the wall as shown in the image above. Optional: place a strap, eye pillow, and sandbag alongside your mat.
  • If you tend to have tighter hamstrings, consider placing your blanket farther from the wall and using lower support (i.e., <2 blankets). If your hamstrings are more flexible, set yourself up closer to the wall and consider utilizing higher support (i.e., 2-3 blankets).
  • Your height will also play a role in how far away from the wall you set yourself up. Those who are shorter tend to need to be closer to the wall than those who are taller. Experimenting with how close you are to the wall may take some time and I recommend beginning with your support about 5-6 inches away from the wall.
  • Move into this pose by starting in a seated position on the right side of your mat with the right side of your body located next to the wall. On your exhale, swing both of your legs from the floor up onto the wall. At the same time move your head and shoulders onto your mat. If you are using blankets in this pose, check that your sitting bones are resting between your blankets and the wall. Notice an arch in your torso. If your torso is flat or your back is rounded, adjust your support by bending your knees and pushing into the wall to lift your pelvis off your support. While your pelvis is lifted, adjust your support so that it is higher and then slowly lower your pelvis back onto your support.
  • Using your hands, lift the base of your skull away from your neck. Feel your shoulder blades extending away from the spine, soften your throat, and allow your arms to reach out to your sides with palms up.
  • While engaging your leg muscles, feel them relaxing into the support of the wall. You may place a strap around your thighs to provide additional support and relaxation to the legs. You may also add to your support in this pose by placing a sandbag on your feet. To do this, bend your knees as if you were going to do bound angle pose and place the sandbag on top of your heels before carefully extending your feet back up the wall. This step should be done before placing the strap. Finally, close your eyes and feel free to utilize an eye pillow.
  • Feel free to remain in this pose for 5-15 minutes. When coming out of this pose, bend your knees and push your feet against the wall in order to lift your pelvis and remove the support from under you. After you lower your pelvis back onto the floor, you may bend your knees and roll to the side before using your arms to push yourself up into a seated position.

Run Your Mind Training Workbook by Julia Raffaini

New Release! Written by Elevate Running Founder, Julia Raffaini, this book was published yesterday.

Description

My intention for this workbook is to help runners become more successful by improving their mental training. This workbook is designed to both introduce you to general concepts in sport psychology and to help you to implement psychology techniques to improve your running performance. Throughout this workbook, you will focus on enhancing your goal development, motivation, mental toughness, confidence, concentration, and energy management. This workbook contains some information about caring for the body including yoga practices to supplement your running training. This workbook also contains several sample training plans and a training journal section in which you will be able to integrate the information that you have learned throughout this workbook into your training.

To purchase the workbook now, visit:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/1793032904