The Postpartum Body
After my first pregnancy, the pounds and fat melted away rather easily. At about 6 months postpartum, I was actually 10lbs under my pre pregnancy weight from breast milk production (burning ~500 calories a day). Of course, once that stopped, my weight went back to normal at what I guess is it's state of equilibrium.
Fast forward to today. I'm 9 months postpartum from my 2nd pregnancy and though my weight is at equilibrium state, my body, sadly, is not. Frustrated, I did the one thing I've never really stuck with before - I ran.
You must be thinking, "Big whoop, tons of people run. Why is it such a big deal that you started?" Well, my friends, I am that special combination of a person who not only is crazy slow, but also hates running. Yes, the gasp-y, out-of-breath, super sweaty person who can't catch her breath even at a 15+ minute pace.
I started slow. My goal was to run as long as I could without taking walking breaks. Why? Given that I have "daikon legs", I didn't want to bulk them further with intense interval training (my brief track career in sprinting made my calves much bigger). Plus, I tend to cheat at intervals. Taking a few extra seconds at each break until I'm pretty much just walking the whole time.
On Day 1, I ran a whopping 0.25 miles and felt like I was going to throw up a lung. Thankfully, each day got a little better and after 2 weeks of running everyday, I was running 2 miles followed by a 1 mile walking cool-down. I was feeling good! I lost an inch each in the tummy and hip area (excess water I'm sure, but still very motivating).
At this point, I was feeling all athletic and proud so I started investing in my new sport. By the way, I should note that I still hated running, but I loved the feeling of accomplishment afterwards. I bought new shoes, a visor, and a modern fanny pack (hehe, never thought THAT was going to happen).
SPIbelt (buy here) holds my iPhone & keys
I love this thing! Does not ride up or fall down. Can be easily concealed under my shirt if desired.
The shoes were a mistake. Blinded by the sale signs, I purchased some Asics a 1/2 size too small (you should purchase running shoes a 1/2 size larger) than normal in hopes I could just stretch them out through enough wears. At a $2 price tag (I had $30 in rewards), I just couldn't resist. At first, they felt good as Asics cushioning really can't be beat, but then my wide feet, which got wider after pregnancy, started to run into the sides and cause some pain. I tried a shoe-stretcher but I just couldn't get comfortable in them.
When I thought buying new, more expensive shoes was the worst thing to happen, I strained my hip flexor. I limped around the house for a few days and started to feel dejected. I needed that post-workout high! Every time I tried to run, a shooting pain in my hip would stop me.
I turned to low-impact activities like the elliptical (sooooo boring compared to running outside) and riding my bike. To hopefully keep up the intensity of running, I followed the 2/3 rule from one of the running forums. I would do 3 miles of low-impact activity to try to mimic my 2 miles of running. It wasn't the same, but I kept telling myself I'd be back on the road soon.
Every few weeks, I would test out how running felt and would feel my hip tighten. After 5 weeks, I went to physical therapy. I learned some stretches and exercises that will hopefully strengthen my hip. I tried to run again after an additional 2 weeks of PT + low impact exercises, but my hip acted up after 0.5 miles. Hubby pointed me towards a running article in his issue of Mens' Health and suggested that my running posture was exacerbating things. I'm apparently a heel-striker when I should be running on the balls of my feet. New news to me! Makes sense though if I think about animals adapted to running.
Forefoot Striking & Shuffling
I've been running with a forefoot strike for a month now and my hip only acts up every once in a while. On a side note, I can't believe this strained hip flexor is still so sensitive after nearly 3 months! My knees bug me every once in a while during runs, but if I shuffle, I find it goes away. Changing my foot strike has made a huge difference, but it felt like starting from square 1 again in terms of slowly building up distance. Forefoot striking places much more emphasis on my calves (fingers crossed that they do not bulk up from this!) and it took me 3 weeks to get back to running 2 miles continuously. I've been running in a pair of decade-old Adidas sneakers and the sole flew off the other day. At the moment, they are gorilla-glued back on, but I know I definitely need new shoes now. My next "fitness" post will revolve around running shoe reviews.
And if you're wondering, the weight loss / body changes have plateaued. My legs are toning up continuously, but that belly is staying put at the moment. Must work through this stage!
I know that was one heck of a long (and boring) post. If you've read this far, you deserve a big hug :)
For any runners out there, do you have any tips to share? Shoes to recommend? My eventual goal will be to run 3 continuous miles on a daily basis. That way, I'll be 5K-ready for all of my company's races.