I went for my first run after giving birth on Sunday, a day shy of Felicity’s five-week birthday. Other than the due date run, I really hadn’t run since mid-May.
Can I say how amazingly adaptable the human body is? I have run for five hours straight in this body. I have run a 6:17 mile in this body. I ran 20 miles in this body the morning of the Folk Festival two years ago and then drove up to Bangor and went dancing all afternoon.
And as of yesterday (Aug. 25), it has been four years since the first time I called myself a runner … and almost four years that I’ve been writing this blog.
So back to my first run in three months.
I expected it to be a bit easier than it was. What it was: easier than the first time I started running four years ago. What it was not: easy.
Let me start by talking about the good things: I could appreciate how much freer my body felt not carrying the extra weight of a tiny person around. The outside air was delicious. There are so many running routes to explore from my new house. My running sneakers were so cushy and springy compared to my walking shoes. My breathing fell into an easy cadence and my feet instinctively fell into place. I’ve learned a lot about the technique of running over four years and I didn’t forget that in the last 10 months.
My strategy was to head out for 15 minutes at a sustainable pace, turn around, and run back. I only looked at the elapsed time, not my heart rate or pace or distance. It was like a mini-return to the couch-to-5k: It doesn’t really matter how far you go, just that you got out there and did the time.
I noticed that I really needed to buy a bra that accommodated my new physique. And that my knee started to tweak towards the halfway point — I didn’t want to push that too hard. While the effort wasn’t completely draining, it was hard: at least as hard as the due-date run, though that’s probably because my expectations were too high.
It reminded me of some of the lessons I learned the first time I ran the C25K. First, that a supportive bra makes a huge difference. Second, that slowing down is better than stopping (assuming that you’re not hurting in an injured way). Because doing week 1, day 1 over and over again is always better than doing nothing at all.
Since that run, I ran again on Wednesday and I hope to run again tonight. (It took me almost five days to finish this post.) After each run I was creaky and sore, even if it was less than three miles. I have a long way to go but I’m getting there, one step at a time.