Six ways new moms can get back into running

Six ways new moms can get back into running

From losing post-baby weight to running a marathon, here's how one mom became a regular runner.

Post-baby fitness workout weight loss
Woman running / iStock

Losing post-baby weight is no easy task, but one mom's mission to lose extra kilos after having a baby lead to her completing a 42.2km marathon. 

Bonani Zuke started running four years ago after giving birth to her daughter. She would run five kilometres a few times every week to get back into shape.

Soon she was running half-marathon distances and eventually went on to run her first 42.2km at the 2018 Soweto Marathon.

ALSO READ: Local doctor and 'Fit Mom' talks fit ness with Thandolwethu

The 39-year-old says she always "thought people who ran marathons were not normal" until she started running herself. 

“I was just happy that I managed to finish 5 and 10km, this was a huge achievement for me," she says.

She says weight-loss is not the only benefit of running. 

“I like the feeling of self-fulfilment at the end of a race. Also, with my work keeping me at a desk all day and being stressful at times, running helps me to manage my stress levels. With a new baby in tow, making time for running will quite possibly be your biggest challenge. But if you make the commitment to do it, you’ll soon reap the rewards." 

Bonani, who hails from Boskruin in Johannesburg, has set a new running goal for herself. She wants to improve on her first marathon time of 6:05 by running 5:30 or less at her next marathon. 

She has been selected as one of Fedhealth’s Dream Chasers. The initiative is part of its sponsorship of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, which is taking place on the 14th and 15th of September. 

To help runners achieve their fitness goals, the initiative has brought together two running coaches and a nutritionist to help six of their members – their Dream Chasers. 

Bonani has teamed up with Joburg-based running coach Brendan McBirnie. He has been helping her with a detailed running plan that will hopefully help her break the 5:30 mark.  

Brendan is also sharing tips for new moms who want to become regular runners. 

1. Recover first

Whether you’ve had a vaginal birth or a C-section, your body has been through a lot and needs time to recover. The more time you give it to recover, the readier it will be for you to get back into training. Make sure you get the go ahead from your doctor too, before you start running.

2. Set a realistic goal 

Running a marathon as a first goal just isn’t realistic. Just as Bonani worked her way up to 10km and 21km distances, you should also give yourself time to get there. Besides the lack of sleep you’ll now be dealing with, your time is no longer your own, so your training time is greatly reduced. Try not to see this as a negative, but rather a chance to set a new goal. When was the last time you raced a 5km? A small goal like this can lay the foundation for racing a great marathon when you have more time.

3. Get a strong core

Throughout your pregnancy, your pelvic muscles will have expanded and been under an increased load. You need to get these strong again, not only to prevent conditions such as diastasis recti, but to prevent injuries elsewhere. After all, the core is central to your running movement, so weakness here can affect everything else.

4. Follow a plan 

This plan should be structured and progressive. You won't always be able to train every day – so rather plan to do three sessions per week, whenever you can fit them in. Keep your training mileage low but frequent: particularly when you first get back into training, rather run/walk a 2km session than trying to get straight back to your twice weekly 10km. Doing things this way will help you improve quicker and avoid injury.

5. Focus on easy running 

Easy runs where you can talk and run at the same time will be training your endurance energy system without breaking your body down too much. When you start running again, start with interval training such as walking for three minutes and jogging for one minute. The following week you can do two minutes of walking and two minutes of jogging and so on, until you are back into it.

6. Rest and recover! 

The body improves during rest – if you place the correct training load on it. However, with a new baby you’re not getting those peaceful eight hours of sleep a night, which means recovery from exercise will take longer. Make sure you are giving yourself enough recovery time after each run.

ALSO READ: Keri's Wellness Wednesday: Four tricks to be more comfortable during pregnancy

Image courtesy of iStok/Mheim3011

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