November 17 2017
Five years after admitting defeat during a high school race, this runner reflects on her eating disorder recovery.
New moms get bombarded with advice when their little bundles first arrive. Most people are well-meaning, but “sleep when the baby sleeps!” is easier said than done when you’re in the newborn trenches. However, most moms will agree that while many of the suggestions are hit or miss, there are some adages that, in hindsight, are definitely worth heeding. Turns out, the same goes for new runners; there are a few pieces of tried-and-true advice that most runners agree are invaluable when you first start out. In fact, the very same advice that guides new moms is just as helpful to new runners. See for yourself:
“Prioritize your sleep.”
The bane of new mothers everywhere, being told to prioritize your sleep is beyond aggravating. It’s pretty much next to impossible thanks to hormones, anxiety and a never-ending to-do list. Runners may not have the same obstacles keeping them from their zzz’s, but they often let quality sleep fall off their list of priorities. New runners may not realize they have to adjust their lifestyle a little and think they can still crank out their miles after an all-nighter, but regularly failing to get enough sleep will not only make it very difficult to complete your workouts, it can hurt your recovery too. So take a look at your schedule and figure out how to rearrange or cut back to make sure you get your eight hours every night.
“Make time for exercise.”
Most mothers know that exercise helps with energy levels, postpartum depression and dropping the baby weight. But it’s often the last thing on our lists because there are too many other things that need our attention when there’s a helpless baby around. You’d think that when you decide to take up running, making time for exercise would be a no-brainer, but with busy work and social schedules it’s surprisingly easy to lose the enthusiasm and let workouts slip. So before you start running, take the time to make a plan; plug your workouts into your calendar, keep your gym’s class schedule handy and let your friends know that you plan to start running on Saturday mornings so they won’t tempt you into staying out late Friday nights.
“Say yes to help.”
Friends and family try to help new mamas in many ways, from offers to babysit or clean the house to deliveries of food or diapers. But whether it’s due to pride, sleep deprivation or a touch of OCD, many first-time moms try to do everything on their own, only to end up frazzled and exhausted. New runners often fall victim to the same trap; they are determined to become a runner on their own and brush off advice from more seasoned runners. This can lead to injuries or giving up completely when things get tough, so it’s important to listen when a fellow runner tosses a tip your way. Who knows, you may end up finding a great pair of sneakers or change your stride in a way that completely revolutionizes your training.
“Find a support group.”
When you first have a baby, the experience can be completely isolating. Your doctor or a fellow mom may recommend joining a support group of other moms, and having a sounding board to bounce your questions, concerns and fears off of can be truly life-changing. Running is no different, especially if it’s your first time committing to the sport and you don’t know any other runners. So look around and find a group you can connect with for support. It may be with a running group you join through your local sneaker store, or it may be an online running community you come across while browsing the web; whether you log physical miles on the road or hours on the internet, the support you can get from both seasoned or fellow new runners can be priceless as you embark on your running journey.