Pissing yourself is not normal –

Those adverts that tell you that pissing yourself is normal postpartum (#always) – it’s not true.  It’s common, a lot of women struggle with this.  Is it normal?  No.  Should you accept that this is happening?  No.  So what to do if you are leaking when laughing, sneezing. running (the focus here of course is running.

If you want to look at the research and information yourself (which I recommend you do) take a look here.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335928424_Returning_to_running_postnatal_-_guidelines_for_medical_health_and_fitness_professionals_managing_this_population

This was written in 2019, very recent and up to date.  No old school views that women should not exercise postpartum because it will only cause damage.  If you didn’t know, most fitness research is based on men and then just extrapolated to apply to women’s health.  Great, huh??

Initial running rehabilitation –

    1. Are you leaking
    2. Is there heaviness in your pelvic area and groin when you run?
    3. Do you have pain when you run?
    4. Are you less than 4 months postnatal and don’t have previous running experience?

Stop running.

The way you should be seeing exercise postpartum is rehabilitation.  That means, understanding what your body is doing and trying to fix it.  This of course, is very hard if you have zero clues about fitness, your body, anatomy, pelvic floors etc.

I went from running almost every day, whether part of a warm up or a full run for years to nothing for almost a year.  I actually got back into fitness first through swimming and then building my confidence to run.  The plan I write is based on how I got myself running while adding my postpartum knowledge.  Please check it out https://powex.co.uk/how-to-work-out/

I had to stop running 5 months into my pregnancy due to PGP and I had a slow and long awaited journey back to running because of this.  Hearing other postpartum mums desperately wanting to exercise and using running as a first point of call frightens me a little.  I subsequently feel compelled to write this so you can inform yourself.

To follow will be demonstrations of exercises to strengthen core and pelvic floor muscles.

What you should do first –

If you are thinking about running but not sure whether you should even try

Some tips that could help to see if your body and muscles can actually stand up to it are (taken from above research article and my own experiences being rehabbed:

    • Can you walk for 30 minutes?
    • Is balancing on each leg possible without pain or falling for 10 second?
    • Can you balance on each leg and squat 10 times? (very hard, maybe use a chair to hold and balance?)
    • Are you able to jog on the spot for 1 minute without pain or discomfort?
    • Can you walk lunge across the room (with good form) for 10 repetitions?
    • Are you able to hop on each leg 10 times without pain or discomfort?
    • Can you do a ‘fast runner’ repeated 10 times on each leg?

First 3-6 month postpartum focus –

    1. Build your muscles first.
    2. Strengthen your core and pelvic floor work first.
    3. Get your walking workout in.  Yes, you can get a workout with a walk.

My method to building your run –

I would only recommend this if you feel confident trying without pain and have tried the above ‘tests’.  The pressure you create in your body from thumping down the street can be 2.5 times walking. So please take it easy and build.

The key to all of this is finding a way that you enjoy and if you don’t enjoy running – just don’t.  Find something else.

I’d also encourage you to read my blog about the language you use around your abilities and returning to fitness https://powex.co.uk/language-for-the-postpartum-exercise-wannabe/

Getting yourself checked out properly is also important if you are serious about getting fit and not causing yourself more damage – please see https://powex.co.uk/the-fit-mum-reality-check/

How to start your running journey.
StepWhat to do?How to adjust
How long is your ‘run’?
Create a playlist.

– 20-30 minutes long.
– 8-10 songs.  
– The playlist should have songs that have a verse and a chorus.
– If you can only manage 15 minutes exercise at the moment, make this your goal with an appropriate playlist length.– Preparation is key
– Playlist ready.
– Rough idea of where to run/go?
– Do you have something to run in? Good supportive shoes? Running bra? T-shirt? Leggings?
Songs 1 and 2– Start at normal pace walk
– Walk progressively with more ‘intention’
– Build from normal pace to You’re ‘I’m late’ walk.
– You don’t have to run from your front door. Walking to start is completely normal!– 3-7 minutes done.
Song 3 – Verse – walk, either normal pace or fast walk, depending on how you are feeling.

– Chorus – power walk or light jog. Raise the pace from the verse pace.

– Assess how you feel after that short run interval.

– If it feels too much, power walking is your ‘pace’ speed for now.

– Fast walking really is a great builder to running. Especially postpartum.
– Get your arms moving to power you forwards and increase energy you are expending.
– Do not cross your arms across your body, drive them forwards ahead of you.
– 10-12 minutes – halfway done if your aiming for 20 minutes.
Song 4-6/8 –– Repeat the process of verse and chorus pace changes.

– You can gauge from your run how many songs you want to attempt. If one is enough to start. Great. Continue the rest of the workout at a comfortable walking pace.
– jogging is not running, pick your jogging pace. Jogging is NOT maximum effort.
– 18-28 minutes.
– A ‘normal’ 5km speed for an overall ‘fit’ person is 30 minutes. So you are already on track for building to 5k distance and speed.
Songs 9-10 –– Push the hardest you can.
– Back off to cool down.
– Yes opposites, Depending on how you are feeling, don’t just keep going.
– If you’ve given yourself the target of running for 30 minutes – don’t pass it yet. Push hard for the last song to get maximum workout feels. This could be power walking or jogging.
– If you have well and truly had enough, slow down, bring the pace down, slow walking.
– 28-30 minutes.
Stretch when you get home –– Hold a low squat,
– Hold a low lunge,
– Sit down, feet on the floor, knees bent and roll your knees from side to side.
– Stretch your arms across your body
– Downward dog.
– Stretching and cool downs are important, you may have some of your own stretches.
– Yoga stretches are great.
– 30 plus minutes.

Get back to running for you –

This is not a ones size fits all plan.  You can mix this up to how you feel but if you know anything about fitness, this is an interval type workout.  Intervals help you gradually build, the aim is for you to push yourself a little bit in short bursts.  You are not comparing yourself to well seasoned runners who may sprint past you.  Over the course of time, you will be able to increase the length or intensity of your intervals.  You do not have to be postnatal to follow this plan.  Anyone can use the principles!

Progressions –

When you feel that ‘chorus running’ is ‘easy’, my next piece of advice would be to get yourself to a hill.  Yes, not running for longer, but challenging the intensity up the hill.  This could look like walking up a hill rather than running, but if you have built some of the mechanisms and strength to run a bit, this is great.  To be able to run for longer without pain, you need to get your glutes activated more and your core working with you, so that hill is your friend.

Once hill walking or running feels ok, then add the length to your run.

There are so many ways to expand your running skills, without even running.  Try what feels right to you.  Or get in touch.