The journey of returning to running postpartum varies widely among women and can be an extremely humbling process. During this process, patience is KEY as well as understanding the ways in which you can make this journey more manageable
Understand the risks of running postpartum: Pregnancy and the hormones released from pregnancy cause a ton of changes in your body including: Lax joints and ligaments, a shift in your center of gravity, and a weak core to name a few. All of these changes put you at a higher risk for injury!
Start working with a physical therapist and/or pelvic floor specialists ASAP to start the strengthening process
Be aware of issues that should be fixed prior to running: Larger than 2 finger diastasis recti, a major prolapse from a collapsed pelvic floor, and sciatic pain are a few things that must be addressed before you begin running again. These conditions CAN be fixed with time and professional help, but running with them can only cause further damage that is difficult to come back from
Know the typical timeline, but listen to YOUR body: Many women receive clearance to run from their doctor around 4-6 weeks postpartum, though plenty of women do not feel ready until 12 weeks after. Just because you receive clearance from your doctor does NOT mean you should start running immediately. Make sure you feel ready to get back out there!
Begin running again with a Couch to 5k plan: These programs generally start with 3 run/walks per week and increase from there by 10% each week. It is incredibly humbling to go from running marathons to using a Couch to 5k program, but your body will thank you for easing back into running slowly
IF YOU ARE BREASTFEEDING
Pump/breastfeed before you run: Try to get your breasts as empty as possible before heading out to prevent an uncomfortable run and possible leakage
Eat enough & drink enough fluids: If you had a healthy pregnancy and gained the suggested amount of weight, then you should eat around 500 more calories per day than your normal non-pregnancy/postpartum calorie intake if you are breastfeeding. You may need more if you are training for a longer endurance race. Just like it takes more calories to produce milk, it takes extra fluids as well! You might find that you need to take fluids with you on even short runs during your postpartum journey
Get some new sports bras: Getting more supportive sports bras will help you feel more comfortable on the run!