back to running and {the rule of 5}

Let's go for a run, baby. 2 mamas on a run

It’s taken me a long time to return to running after my pregnancy. To really return to it, where I’m strapping on my shoes and heading out the door on a regular basis.

The reason behind this is complex and makes for an entirely too long explanation. The short version is this: C. has always been a frequent nurser from day one and until she turned about seven months old, I was still getting up 3-4 times a night to feed her. This made for very poor sleep and little rest for my body.

Usually, following that last feeding session around 5-6am, I would just stay up, make coffee, head to the couch and open my laptop to get some writing done on my dissertation. Having deadlines and fellowship obligations meant that I had to find ways to squeeze in a certain number of hours of work each day. Once she would wake at around 8am, there was little knowing how much work I’d get done since her naps were pretty irregular and unpredictable until about 4 months old.

Even once I could count on naps and babysitter time, I still needed those one or two early morning hours to organize my thoughts and set myself up for the day. I’m a morning person, I’m most productive when first up, and I relish those quiet hours when the rest of the family’s asleep, the smell of coffee linging in the air, and it’s just me and my thoughts.

Moreover, until C. was about six months old, she was too young to ride in the running stroller without the carseat attachment and not able to participate on runs with mama. Running had to accur when someone else was available to watch her. But when someone else had her, I needed to use every moment on my writing and research.

And if I did feel like I could get out the door and leave both baby and dissertation behind, my body would remind me that I barely slept the night before and that forcing it to run would make it really really angry with me.

Let's go for a run a beautiful day for a run

I guess that wasn’t all that brief. I suppose that in order to really explain why I haven’t been running when so many other moms seem to jump back into it so quickly and effortlessly after having a baby, I feel the need to paint more of a complete picture of the last seven and a half months.

Although I’ve struggled with missing my running routine and wondering whether it was ever going to be easy to work running back into my daily life, I felt comfortable letting it take as much time as it needed. As I’ve said in the past few months, parenthood has taught me to be more patient and a whole lot kinder to myself. There is only so much one person can do in one day.

Finally, seven months later, things were falling into place and my life was resembling more and more the life I had pre-baby; sleep was returning to normal, the days were taking on a rhythm and predictability that had often been missing with a newborn, and my body felt more rested and capable of excercise once again.

Running with baby Running mamas
going for a run with baby views from an afternoon run

So there I was, seven months out with barely a handful of postpartum runs under my belt, the last of which had taken place a whopping two months prior. I was finally able to run, but could I still run? Did I still have it in me? Would it be really difficult and unpleasant and should I maybe just stick to walking after all?

It’s hard to convey how important running is to me. I came to running late in life and it has filled a void that I didn’t know was there. It sounds dramatic, I know. Running has had that effect on me. It makes me want to make grand statements and set impossible goals and it provides me with the meditative time in the day to think those goals through and to allow myself to dream big. It also makes me push my body beyond what I think possible and that may be just what I love about it most.

It constantly forces me to grow.

So I told myself that I would put on my running shoes, head out the door, and withhold any judgement until after I had done that at least five times.

This is my new, self-imposed rule of five. If something sounds really unappealing, if I’m scared and nervous about it, if it seems hard, I am going to give it five tries before making up my mind about it. Most things, in my experience, get easier much sooner than that.

This is what those five runs looked like: 1) with my friend and her adorable baby boy, because misery loves company. 2) just me and C. on a gorgeous Spring day, how could I say no to these views? 3) Bobbie and I met up again and took the strollers for a jaunt around the lake. 4) just me and C. again. 5) Bobbie and I do our “running mamas” thing again, this time tackling a longer route around her neighborhood.

On those runs, especially on the solo ones, I had time to contemplate how running with a baby and a stroller is different from running pre-baby. Below are my impressions, bearing in mind that they come at a time when I’m running with a seven and a half months old and that this list could change over time.

Mama runners mama runner

Running post baby: How it’s different

  • Getting used to the somewhat different stance while pushing a stroller take a little time. It gives my upper arms and shoulders much more of a workout than running without a stroller.
  • I have to do things like breastfeed the baby in the car before we take off (a full baby is a happy baby in the stroller while running).
  • I bring along clean diapers and wipes and am prepared to pull over for a diaper change when needed.
  • I not only pack a water bottle for myself but also a sun hat for baby, a water bottle for her, a toy or two that she can hold on to in the stroller, and various other things that she might require.
  • I usually breastfeed her again after the run before we can leave the park (breastmilk digests quickly).
  • I schedule my runs around nap times.

Running post baby: How it’s the same

  • I still get the same endorphin rush once out there and running.
  • I feel the same sense of satisfaction and accomplishment after a run.
  • I burn the same amount of calories (and maybe even more since I’m working harder pushing a stroller).
  • I may be slower now at the beginning of this new running regiment but I don’t doubt that I can regain my strength and stamina and return to my previous running pace and distances in the future.
  • I’m already thinking about races, searching local runs for which to register, and generally taking on my same old running mentality.
  • When I strap on those running shoes, it feels familiar and like the same old “me” is out there hitting the pavement.

Overall, it took a bit longer to find my running groove after having a baby but, sure enough, it’s back. It didn’t even take a full five runs. By run #3, I was already thinking about registering for a 5K with C. and the stroller. I’m not that fast yet and my endurance is still a work in progress, but I feel the same old sense of satisfaction and accomplishment once I return home.

I also feel very fortunate to have a baby that seems very content to join mama for the ride and to get outside nearly everyday for another run. I don’t know whether all babies are as easily placated in a running stroller and can only vouch for my own: she loves going on a run with me. There is so much for her to see and take in and, if she’s really tired, she just does this.

As for the stroller, I use a BOB Revolution and it’s wonderful. It came recommended by friends and it’s been worth every penny. It handles like a dream and it hardly feels like I’m pushing the weight of the stroller and the nearly twenty-pound baby within it. It also does a great job of absorbing the impact of the road and giving C. a really smooth ride. In fact, sometimes it’s too smooth of a ride and I have to “off-road it” to jiggle her just enough to rock her to sleep.


Are you a running mama? How do you work running into your day? How has running changed for you after you had a baby or as your child has gotten older? Any tips for a relative newbie to the whole running with a stroller thing? 

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{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
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18 Responses to back to running and {the rule of 5}

  1. Bobbie says:

    Very well said! I’m glad to have you and C. as running buddies!

  2. T. says:

    My children didn’t complain about sitting in the stroller for walks/runs until they were about two. Then they started to protest loudly. That’s when books and story tapes came in handy. I would also let them pick the route, letting them tell me when to turn down a street. Of course, sometimes they would pick a route that took us just once around the block!

  3. So – I’m assuming this is you? Send me an email with the links you want included.

  4. emily says:

    this post is quite encouraging.

    i’m not the runner you are but i do love it. i just don’t make time for it. i’d love for it to be one of those automatic things i make time for most days (like coffee and blogging) even if my speed and endurance isn’t what it used to be. and how great for that fresh air for little bean!

    i’ll let you know how my rule of five for running works out ;)

  5. I have really struggled with running since my second was born. There just isn’t enough time in the day! And now that I have a four-year-old and a one-year-old, strapping both in the stroller just isn’t an option. So, I revised my schedule a bit. I now have two mornings during the week to sneak a run in after the kids go to daycare. I also make sure I have time to go on the weekend. It’s taken some time, but I finally feel like I can do it. I’m like you, I came to running later in life, but it’s such an important part of my life now I can’t imagine how I managed without it before. With kids it’s probably always going to be a balancing act. However, I feel like it’s good for kids to see their parents exercising and being active. Modeling good behavior!

    Love your rule of five! I generally make myself stick with something three times and it works too!

  6. You are completely doing far more than I did the first year – I don’t think most moms really get out there running so quickly even though it seems that’s what we read. I didn’t start running until baby was 5 years old (but that’s obviously way over the top too long but I had other drama in there, a husband deployed, etc).

    My first year, I spent pumping in an office cubicle and breastfeeding. There was no way I could have added running into that busy mix. I am just amazed and in awe of the moms we all read about (to include you!) who get so much done in that first year. I was actually a bit of a basket case.

    If you do a 5k this year with a stroller, just view the speed as adding some additional weight training into the run. I think all stroller runners are entitled to mentally shave off that handicap and know their pace would have been better.

    Great post and you are doing great! Definitely nothing wrong with not being an Olympian the first year after birth. (I think those moms are cyborgs possibly? ha ha)

    • simplybike says:

      Cyborgs indeed! Ha! I just read about a mom running the San Fran marathon (I think even placing) at 6 weeks post partum! What??!!

      I actually want to do the 5K with the stroller because it’s my little crutch that tells the world, it’s ok that I’m reaaaally slow, look, I just had a baby! And I’m pushing a stroller! (Although my speed would be about the same without the stroller but then what would be my excuse?)


  7. Love the photos! I’m hoping to be a running mama someday. It’s always nice to see women getting back into their beloved sport not too soon post baby. Nice work!

  8. Erin says:

    My daughter did not like running with me. She would cry and throw her toys, bottles and blankets overboard to get me to stop. She never fell asleep for me. The two of us running together definitely didn’t last long. Lol! Occasionally I’ll take her with me now that’s she’s 2 1/2 and she does better but it never developed into a routine for us. But, we did a 5K a few months ago and as we neared the end she insisted on climbing out and running with me across the finish line so maybe when she is older we’ll run side by side instead. :)

  9. This was so inspiring! Before getting pregnant, I was running (not very much, but enough for me) almost every day and I loved it. Then I got pregnant/became super tired/defended my dissertation/started a new job, etc., etc. So I haven’t gone for a run in a LOOOOOONG time. Now my baby is three months old and my body is finally ready to give it a try, especially as we have grandparents in town to take care of her. However, like your baby C, my baby C is a frequent nurser, so I’m scared of taking time to run without her (she’s away from me enough now that I’m back to work). I’m hoping that when she’s bigger and can sit up in her stroller, we can go running together, and I hope that she likes it. It was good to know that I’m not the only person who’s still not quite sure about her baby’s schedule at 3+ months. Thanks for writing this!

  10. I am late to the party, but I love this. I just signed up for my first ever 5K and I’m SCARED, but I’m going to try it once. It’s just once, right? RIGHT?

  11. lark says:

    I’m not really a runner, but I am a dancer, and I have a 7.5-month-old baby who also nurses a fair amount. I hope this isn’t too personal to ask, but I was wondering how you balance the dual requirements of nursing access and support while exercising. I’ve tried three different options, none of which is that awesome. 1) leave baby with husband, put on regular sports bra (too confining, doesn’t really fit right, and often leads to plugged ducts). 2) nursing tank over a soft support Bravado nursing bra (not quite enough support, can still lead to plugged ducts, but the access is easy). 3) Moving Comfort Fiona bra, which has velcro straps (haven’t yet tried nursing with it, but the access is doable; I don’t think it’s as supportive as it should be, but I think I got a size too large). I’ve mostly come to the conclusion that there’s not really a good solution.

    • simplybike says:

      Hi Lark, congrats on the recent baby! I don’t have a good solution either. At first, I would “double bag” the ladies :) with two sports bras worn one on top of the other because I felt like I needed the extra support and the extra keeping-things-in-place while running. Either I’ve gotten more used to them at this size or maybe they’re smaller again (who knows) but I don’t feel the need to wear two sports bras anymore. I probably should have invested in something like the comfort nursing/sports bras that you mention but I’m too cheap so I still wear the same old sports bras I have from Target and from Old Navy. I hate nursing with them on because it’s not the easiest, but it’s not impossible either. I simply lift them from the bottom up on the side I’m going to nurse and access the breast that way. C. doesn’t seem to mind and since it’s only on occasion, I feel like this system works for us.

      Good luck with whatever you decide to do! Oh, and I haven’t had any plugged ducts as a result of wearing my regular sports bras.


    • Kmc says:

      Admin / I was lost and at an endIt seemed so longI ralley needed a friendWhy should I pretend?I couldn’t think I had to seeThat Southern Comfort comforts meI could be freeBut where would I be?Then you came alongAnd you sang your songAnd you made my dayIn your special wayThen I knewThat baby it’s youBaby it’s youYou know that it’s you I’m thinking ofBaby it’s youTry my best to get alongMake some friends, but something always went wrongI come on too strongThings were ralley getting roughGetting tired of acting like I was toughI just had enoughThen you came alongAnd you sang your songAnd you made my dayIn your special wayThen I knewThat baby it’s youBaby it’s youYou know that it’s you I’m thinking ofBaby it’s you(Chorus x 2)

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