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Your first postpartum race

After giving birth to my kiddo and taking a good, long time to fully come back to running, the itch to race finally found me again in the summer of 2021. I had finally built up some consistency and felt like it might be fun to try a new cross country 5k series being put on in Austin. This gave me the chance to get in a rust buster and then, a month later, see if I could fine tune things. I had a great time at both races! So, if you’re looking to run your first race back postpartum, here are a couple of things that I learned or that helped me those first times back.


Wait to race until you’ve achieved some consistency. By the time I started racing, I had dealt with my prolapse issue and built consistency over a number of months. I was strength training, mostly getting enough sleep (what parent of a young child really gets enough sleep?), and eating well. In other words, I had a strong enough foundation that a tough effort wasn’t going to bring me to pieces.


Find something that sounds FUN. I am a numbers person and I definitely track my times. I didn’t want to run a race where I was concerned about a PR, because it was just not the moment for that. I hadn’t run cross country since high school and this just sounded fun! I knew even if I didn’t run that well, it could be an enjoyable experience. 


Remember how to pace yourself. Adrenaline and not knowing a lot about where my fitness was both played into this, but I paced myself horribly the first race back. I ran 7:27 / 7:45 / 8:06, compared to a month later when I ran 7:33 / 7:32 / 7:33. I didn’t let myself get too upset at the poor pacing, for the reasons I just mentioned, but I was really glad I only had to wait a month for redemption. 


Check in on your race shoes…before the race. I wore pre-pregnancy trail shoes for this race, but hadn’t really run much trail yet postpartum. It completely slipped my mind that I had to go up a size in my road shoes after being pregnant…so my old shoes felt pretty tight and uncomfortable almost right away. Learn from my mistake! 


Celebrate your new PRs! I gave my watch a nice reset postpartum, so it celebrated my first race back as a PR. Whether you are slower or faster than your earlier self, this is definitely a milestone to celebrate!

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