Lately I’ve definitely been more mother and less runner. It wasn’t what I had planned or hoped for. I thought maintaining a healthy, active pregnancy would have me back at it sooner than later. And I was initially, but it turns out that wouldn’t even be close to the plan.
On a 2.5 mile run at 35 weeks pregnant followed by a 3 mile walk and feeling great!
Since about a month postpartum I knew my body didn’t feel “right.” I felt amazing those first few weeks. I was back in my skinny jeans with seven pounds to lose. I felt eager to get back to exercising. Baby girl was sleeping pretty well. Life was just crazy enough I felt like I needed some time to take care of me. It was the perfect post-baby storm to get back to running. I walked when I could, did my pelvic tilts and kegels, and started easing into running very cautiously.
At my six week postpartum appointment I learned I had a significant abdominal separation (diastasis recti). I was super disappointed, but kind of knew it was probably the case. My back had been hurting. My core felt off and not just the I just had a baby weak. Still I kept running. I wasn’t peeing myself running or having those types of issues. I wasn’t having pain per say while running. Everything I read along with my midwife said it was ok to keep running since I wasn’t having those issues.
I bought and read Katy Bowman’s book about DR. Everything she said made so much sense. I’ve never been a quick fix person. I’ve always believed to get to the true root of the problem is key or else everything else is just a bandaid. I’ve always had a huge issue with the number of prescriptions people are given for things without first trying to make lifestyle changes. To have abdominal surgery or do PT for a set number of weeks would only fix the problem temporarily. Once I returned to my old ways I would potentially be back in the same spot I am in now.
So I focused on my alignment and active sitting and standing. Wearing flat shoes as not to throw my alignment off. Core engagement as much as possible even when lifting kids and things and when sitting. I focused on reconnecting my body. After a month of this, my gap closed by almost a finger (to just over 3 fingers), but it was still deep. I still was feeling so much weakness and my hip had started to hurt on every run and after.
I knew and know that it will take much more than a month to undo a lifetime of poor alignment, pelvic tilting and ribs out. It will take more than a month to undo over a decade of heel wearing, a lifetime of not dropping my ribs and walking, running and everything else in a non-neutral body. I love Katy Bowman’s exercises, but it was hard to create a consistent program to go along with the lifestyle changes while taking care of two young kids.
After much research and consideration to my current life situation (two kids under two), I also purchased the MuTu System. MuTu focuses heavily on alignment while also giving you set exercises to do in a 12 week program. I don’t have time or money for PT appointments. Any time I take off from work is unpaid. With young kids and sickness, I can’t justify taking time off for PT, and outside of work hours are not an option either with daycare pickup and other demands of children.
I needed a program that told me what to do and could be done at home when I had time. I started following the exercises and life was good. I felt stronger and better after just the first week. Then I went back to work and things kind of fell apart. The exercises have to be done every single day. Every. Single. Day. With young kids and going back to work it is just so, so, so hard.
The week I went back to work I ran my longest run. Maybe it was all the emotions of going back to work and not feeling ready. Maybe it had been a hard day at home. Maybe it was all the nerves of being away from my baby girl for the first time. It might have been the discontent of not being where I’d hoped to be physically. Perhaps it was the stress I knew I’d soon be under as a full time working and breastfeeding mama (i.e. prep and lunches pumping and scrambling) responsible for getting kids ready and daycare drop off and pick up every day on my own. I honestly don’t remember.
What I do remember is my longest postpartum with baby #2 run was also my fastest postpartum with baby #2 run. I pushed the pace and just wanted to run fast. Feet turning over with quickness, pounding the stress and emotions into the ground with each step. My body let me know for the first time it didn’t agree with this as I leaked urine for the first time.
As embarrassing as that is to say, I’ve heard from many ladies who’ve messaged me and talked with me about similar issues. This is a common issue post-baby, but it is not normal…meaning you’re body is trying to tell you something. It likely won’t improve without specific work either. Most women choose to live with it. I will not.
Then my hip started to hurt. It wasn’t just a little hurt either. It was an I’m walking funny two days later hurt. Two months later and no running and it still hurts anytime I’ve been sitting for a bit and stand up. I feel it when I walk on occasion still. Clearly my core was not ready for running like that or perhaps running at all.
I’m anxious to get back to running, but have not been successful at all in making time to do my MuTu exercises while being a full time working and breastfeeding mommy to my kids. Some weeks I manage a few days and think ok, I’m finally going to make this happen only to be met with a setback (sickness, kids waking early, life demands, etc.) soon after that stops me for days or even a couple weeks.
I won’t try running again until I’ve seen improvement with my ab separation and my hip is no longer causing me issues. I know to get to running I need to regain my core strength, improve my body alignment and connections, and work on strength and flexibility in various places (like my hip).
A lifetime of poor alignment and only running (very little cross training and core work) along with two pregnancies close together and a two finger ab separation after baby number one that I did nothing to fix and here I am. Right where I should be I guess.
Lately I’ve been focusing on that idea. That no matter how crazy stressful and hard life is right now, I’m trusting that I’m right where I should be. As fate would have it, I began to finish this post yesterday morning while my daughter napped in the car. I took an Instagram “break” and came across a fitness blogger I follow had posted this to her account:
I just have to believe there is a lesson for me to learn from all this and that the struggle will teach me something I may not even be considering right now.
Had I even known what diastasis recti was before maybe I’d have done things differently. Maybe someone can learn from my experiences. Cross train. Stretch. Strengthen. Save heels for special occasions not daily wear. Work to have neutral body alignment and core engagement. Fix your small ab separation after you have a baby instead of ignoring it and then having another (and much bigger) baby.
I hope and plan to begin MuTu again later this spring or at the latest in June when the end of the school year will allow me some time to refocus, reconnect and rebuild my body. I continue to work on alignment and core engagement as I want to change my body for the better for good. Walking is what I do when I can.
After two months of mourning, misery and wallowing in the fact that I don’t know when my next run will be, I finally felt ready to share what’s kept me silent for so long.
Some might wonder why is this so hard to deal with? It’s complicated, but running is so intertwined with who I see myself as a person and an essential to my well being way I cope with everything and maintain my mental health, it’s no wonder I felt so many negative emotions over it for a while.
If you’re struggling with any of these post-baby issues, hang in there mama!! With time we will be ourselves again. Our bodies will feel like our own again. They have to. I refuse to believe I’m stuck this way forever. No matter how often I feel like maybe I should just quit this whole goal and blog, I just can’t. I keep returning to it. I still hold hope in my heart.
And that’s where I am now. Broken. Grateful. Struggling. Surviving on coffee, the smiles of my babes and that glimmer of hope. Right where I’m supposed to be even if I’m not sure for how long.