It has now been 4.5 months (technically 19 weeks) since I gave birth to Cullen. Throughout my pregnancy, I knew I wanted to get back to running as quickly as possible. Call me crazy, call me being selfish, but running is what I love, and it makes me so happy, and I feel so much better about myself when I do it.
Racing a half-marathon last summer while pregnant.
Since I had to deliver Cullen via a c-section (which was not part of the plan!), I hadn’t even considered what it would be like to return to running after major abdominal surgery. When I started to do research, I didn’t find a whole lot of information out there. I especially had a hard time finding blogs and personal stories of those who were wanting to get back into shape to run competitively.
During the first month after having Cullen, I literally laid in bed for the first two weeks. I was in too much pain to do anything else. After that I only did short walks occasionally. During one of those walks, I started to feel sore within a mere five minutes of walking, so I turned around and headed home. Later that day I passed a larger blood clot (not large enough to warrant going in), but large enough to know that was a little bit too much. Throughout this month, I was honestly surprised at how little I missed running. (Must have been those crazy hormones!)
By the fourth week I was itching to do more, so I started walking/running. The first day I tried running, I literally ran maybe 0.25 miles with a lot of walk breaks thrown in between. I would walk a lot (which felt fine) and occasionally turn the walk into a shuffle. I took the next day off, and then walked/ran the following day. This time I ran a total of maybe 0.5 – 0.75 mile. I continued walking/running every other day for the next month. It wasn’t until about 8 weeks postpartum when I ran 3 miles continuously without taking any walk breaks. And then, even on most runs, I would still walk 2 – 3 times.
One of my better postpartum runs–with my sister when she was here to visit.
During the second and third months postpartum I continued to increase the length of my runs, but pretty much every time I ran, my c-section incision bothered me. It didn’t necessarily hurt, but I could feel it. I would say it was a 1 or 2 on a pain scale of 10, with 10 being excruciating pain. Sometimes the discomfort would go away after I warmed up a bit, but it usually stuck around throughout the run.
I tried icing it (to reduce any inflammation there may be) and doing core exercises (to strengthen the area). These things didn’t seem to make a difference, so I took a week off. When I tried running again, I didn’t feel any better though.
I finally asked friends, a doctor friend, and my own physician. Most non-medical professionals said: lay low, stop running, back off, etc. But the two doctors I consulted said I would be fine to run. I would not be doing any more damage by running (the incision was healing fine) or slow down the progress of it healing. One of the doctors actually encouraged me to keep being active. But the one suggestion that completely healed me was a recommendation to massage the scar to break up any scar tissue. After I started doing this, the discomfort was nearly gone within a few days .
One of my runs in Minnesota where things started to turn around for me.
It was at 3 – 3.5 months postpartum when things greatly improved for me, and since that time I have building my base back up and plan to hit 50 miles this week. I would normally only increase by 10% each week, but with my history of consistent running, I did increase my mileage more quickly.
13 weeks postpartum – 20 miles
14 weeks postpartum – 30 miles
15 postpartum – 36 miles
16 postpartum – 40 miles
17 postpartum – 25 miles
18 postpartum – 45 miles
This week: 19 weeks postpartum – plan on running 50 miles
One of the many reasons I run.
I am glad to say I have full recovered from my c-section and am back on the training bandwagon. During those first three months, I was really concerned that I would be dealing with the effects of this ‘major abdominal surgery’ for nearly a year–as some had commented. It seems like everyone’s recovery from their c-section is different, but I wanted to share my experience for others out there. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment or e-mail me!