I must confess it has been a while since I was a new mum as my daughters are now 12 and 9. I’m currently busy navigating a whole new minefield that finds me falling headfirst into the teen years! We all know that kids don’t come with an instruction manual, things would be a while lot easier if they did, and what works for one mum may not work for another. Even so, we are all on this journey of discovery together.
I’ve learned a lot so far on my journey as a mum, many things through trial and error, I’ve learned ways to make things easier and strategies to cope with certain challenges. There are some things I wish I’d known when I was a new mum and there’s one thing, that I wish I’d discovered much earlier in motherhood, and that, believe it or not, is running. Please don’t stop reading, I understand that it sounds weird and you may think that 12 years of motherhood have driven me slightly mad (could be true) but I shall explain…
The demands on new mums are incredible (as again I’m sure you are aware), looking after a tiny human whilst sleep deprived is a challenge, to say the least! I don’t think I ever confessed to struggling, I was too stubborn and determined to manage everything. I remember one particular occasion where my firstborn was a few weeks old and suffering from terrible colic, she would cry for hours and hours, one evening when my husband got home from work, about 10 pm, I handed the baby over, walked into the kitchen, closed the door and cried. I cried for a long time! I sometimes think back to that moment now and think wow right now I would go for a run and that would have made me feel so much better! If only I had known that then!
I never was one for sport and hated PE in school. I didn’t discover running until 4 years ago when a friend suggested I try the ‘Couch to 5k’ when I was looking for a way to shift a few festive pounds without handing over all my hard-earned pounds to an expensive gym. I started the plan with more doubts than expectations and no one was more surprised than me as the weeks crept by and I was still going, feeling more and more invincible with each run! What I don’t think I realised at the time was that I’d found an incredible way to cope with a stressful job. I would get home from work agitated and frustrated, unable to focus on what I needed to do first. Trainers on, out the door… 30 minutes later I’m back, calm, elated and ready for anything! Ready for homework or tantrums, ready for bedtime stories or snuggles and games! Happy mummy! I left that job, but the running stayed with me and I discovered a whole new world and with it an amazing community of incredible people! People I didn’t know I needed until I found them; there’s another thing that people often fail to mention about motherhood; that it can be very lonely!
So, what’s the point of this story? Why is it relevant to you or any other mum out there? We all need something for ourselves. Something to make us feel powerful, invincible even, and as weird as it sounds running could be the key! A little block of time, just for you, to take back control, to breathe and to switch your brain off to recharge! As mums, we need to look after not only our physical health but our mental health too, and running is renowned for not only helping with fitness but also having a positive impact on mental health, anxiety, and depression.
It’s super easy to get started, you don’t need any fancy equipment or membership to a posh gym, just a pair of trainers and enough courage to get out the door! You can even take the baby with you in the pram if you want to! The ‘Couch to 5K’ plan is a great way to start, it builds you up week by week and with the free App, you have someone incredibly encouraging in your ear telling you when to walk and when to run… it’s that simple! 30 mins, 3 times a week is all you need and by the end of week 9, you’ll be running nonstop for 30 mins! You’ll be more confident and be feeling incredibly badass!
There’s a load of new friends to make too, especially online in communities like our ‘Badass Mother Runners’ – you’d be hard pushed to meet a more encouraging, supportive group of ladies. All ages, all abilities, all on their own journeys.
Here’s our top tips for starting to run after having a baby;
- Get yourself checked over! There’s a fabulous thing called a Mummy MOT (who knew?!) Your body has been through a lot and things will have changed, show it kindness and patience.
- Don’t feel guilty! With motherhood comes the not so welcome gift of ‘mum guilt’. You shouldn’t feel bad about taking time for yourself. Running can help your mental health and we all know happy mummy = happy baby!
- If budget allows invest in a running buggy, it doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be new, but something designed for the challenge at hand will make everything easier!
- Get a good sports bra! Your boobs are going to need extra support and chances are they may have changed a bit so while you’re at it get measured to make sure you’re in the right size!
- Start slowly and build up, take it easy and enjoy it!
You can join Badass Mother Runners by signing up here