Becoming a mum inevitably comes with some massive changes. Activities that were part of everyday life are turned completely on their head - and running is no different. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we caught up with RunFitMum co-founder Sasha Cowley for her take on getting back into your stride after having children.
What would you say is one of the main challenges new mums face when it comes to starting running again?
Time! Your lifestyle has changed beyond belief - you now have someone else to think about! Another challenge is adapting to changes in your body, as it’s not really possible to begin running again immediately after having children. It takes 9 months for your body to make a baby and really it takes 9 months to recover from it.
When is the best time to start running again after having a child?
Every woman is different and there isn’t any set length of time it should take someone before they start running again. I find mums tend to come back to running when another event happens, such as a new job or the child going to playgroup, and that becomes a catalyst for starting to run again. At the end of the day, it’s when you feel ready and that will be different depending on your circumstances.
What's the best way to get started running again as a new mum?
The most important thing is to make sure the doctor signs off on it, especially if you’ve had a difficult birth. Running is a high impact sport, so it’s best to start slow and gradually build up. Starting with walking or a Couch To 5k programme are great options, as they offer a supportive environment and allow you to pace yourself. It’s really important to listen to your body and know what’s right for you.
What encouragement can you give to new mums who may have lost their running confidence since giving birth?
Be kind to yourself! Having a baby is a life-changing experience in every way possible and you won’t be the same person you were before you had a child - your priorities, motivation and body will have all changed. It's important to remember you won’t be the only one going through it. Give yourself the space you need to reconnect with running - it takes time.
How can you adapt your running routine around children?
If you find a time that works for you, make a habit of it and stick to it. A routine is even more important when you have kids because time becomes even more precious.
What are the benefits of running as a mum?
Running is a great opportunity to give yourself that time away from being a mum and to just focus on you. I personally use running as therapy and I’m in a much more positive space after running. It’s important for me to be fit as an example to my two daughters. Lots of mums struggle with feelings of guilt after having children, but thinking about your needs is really essential - if it’s something that makes you feel good, then it’s vital to make it a priority.
What were your personal experiences of running after having children?
For me, running again after having children was really challenging. I gave up running for a year before I got pregnant, as it took me a while to conceive. After the birth of my first daughter, it took me a year to build up to running 5k again. I had issues with shin splints, I was carrying more weight than before and it was just a different experience running generally. It definitely took time and determination.
How was running after children different from running before children?
I really value it much more now, as I really appreciate the ‘me time’! I took the time for granted before, but now it’s something I really look forward to and is an essential part of my life as a mum.