Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Can you be a better runner after childbirth??

I found it hard getting back into running after the birth of my son, 5.5 months ago. However, now that I am back into the swing of things I feel like I may possibly be running better than ever.

I ran until I was about 6 months pregnant (although towards the end of that time the max distance was about 4 or 5kms). After that I walked a lot and did weight training right until the end of my pregnancy.

About 6 months pregnant
My first post partum run was 6 weeks after birth, and I have very slowly been building up since then pretty much. My first race was 4 months after the birth of my son and the longest distance I have run has been 20kms which I did just this weekend gone.

Finishing my first race - 12kms
After the 12km race I was so ready to get back into the long distances and training but I was a little nervous. I had the negative voice in my head telling me I was being silly, that I couldn't run a marathon just 8 months after having a child, it would be too hard, I would be too weak and slow... Blah blah blah. The voice had almost convinced me but I had decided I would give it a go anyway. And I am sooo glad I did!

I have found my running groove again and I feel so great. After each long run I tell my husband how I just can't believe how good I felt while running and even after the run. Previously after long runs I would almost have to sleep for the same amount of minutes that I had run for, which I was worried about now with having a baby to look after. But so far I have been feeling like I have had MORE energy during AND after runs, which I am just gobsmacked about... Still!

After a recent run - Happy to have found my groove again!
 So I have put this all down to my hormones and whatever else is going on in my body due to having a baby. Increased blood volume helps carry more oxygen around the body (which I thought was just during pregnancy, but turns out it is after birth as well), which makes for better running.

This brilliant article talks about some famous/pro runners and athletes that have come back faster and stronger after having a child.
Dr. Karen Nordahl, an obgyn at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver and the author of Fit to Deliver, said that often women who continue exercise throughout their pregnancy experience some strength increases, in part as a result of working out with additional weight.
“I actually think they do come out stronger, not necessarily fitter,” said Nordahl.

Many of the hormonal changes go away six to 12 months after pregnancy, but some can have long-lasting effects.
“You’re actually able to maintain physiological effects for up to a year,” said Nordahl.

Pregnancy also results in increases in blood flow and oxygen-carrying capacity, as well as increased levels of growth hormone. One study, which followed pregnant and non-pregnant athletes over 15 months at similar levels of exercise, even showed a small increase in VO2 max in the pregnant athletes.
 Oh please can the changes be long lasting for me!!

This article is really interesting and I have found that I can agree with all of this. If you have had a child and a wondering about how you will go getting back into exercise - Yes, it does take a wee while to get back into the swing of things, but when you are back into it WATCH OUT WORLD!

I am loving this extra energy that running gives me and I am feeling encouraged that I will actually be able to run the marathon in 12 weeks time. Hopefully this feeling will last at least until then. We will see once I get into the REALLY long distances.

Maybe that sub-4 marathon will be possible for me after all? 

Have any readers experienced this after childbirth? 

Anyone considering having a baby now to become a better runner? 


  1. I had my kids a long time ago and I was not running at the time so I can't speak from experience. I can tell you that I have noticed this about other women who have had children. I think child birth makes you stronger! That is great that you are feeling your best!

  2. i'm really anxious to get back to running! I miss it!!

  3. That's so awesome! I'm happy to hear this. I was worried having a baby would make me slower.


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