Local runner Tricia Hiers is a heavyweight in the sport of running. She has tackled multiple endurance and ultra-marathon runs, still as mother of a toddler and two poodles, an expanding family hasn’t slowed her down, only changed how she runs.
1) what were some of the challenges you faced getting back to running?
One challenge I faced was working around the baby’s schedule to fit in a run. When Robyn was newborn/infant, I would try to run during a time she was asleep. Because she nursed on demand, she wouldn’t always eat or sleep at the same times every day, so I always had to play it by ear. Being a winter baby, this meant that we also had limited daylight hours and many days where it never got warm enough to take her out. I just had to learn that it was okay if we didn’t always make it out for a run or if we got cut short.
Now that Robyn is a toddler, she won’t fall asleep in the stroller- she loves seeing and interacting with everything as we run. So now we plan our runs outside of nap time. (This has gotten a lot easier as she has fallen into a one-nap schedule)
A new body for a new phase in your life
Another challenge was accepting the fact that my body was different. (I had to accept that it is okay that my mile time slowed down -- and not just immediate postpartum, even months and years out.
Not only is your body healing, but you are also using muscles you normally don’t use while running (pushing a stroller/travel system with a child that keeps getting bigger and bigger).
Lastly, running is different. Before having a child, going out to run was an excellent mental health aid for me. It was a time when I could clear my head. After having the baby, it is about them. When she was an infant, I focused on avoiding all the sticks, rocks, and bumps in order to not wake her. Now, I worry about keeping her entertained- music, routes with lots of dogs (her favorite), and snacks. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy it and we both have a blast!
2) Before what was a normal run for you? and after?
Before- I would look at my training plan, see how many miles I had to do for the day, put on my shoes, and go out the door. Complete my miles, come in, grab a snack, shower, then eat. It wasn’t uncommon for me to log 40-50 miles a week.
After- Training plan, what’s that? Ha! Mentally think of how many miles I’d like to accomplish that day, change the toddler’s diaper, go out and assemble the stroller. Come in and fill up water bottles and snack bags. put my shoes on (hopefully not two different ones), put Robyn’s shoes on, go out to put snacks and toddler in stroller, bring toddler back in to change her again, then back out the door. Run fewer miles than planned , come inside and give the baby a snack. I usually log around 20-25 miles a week.
3) What works as far as strollers and accessories for running with a small child?
For the first year, I just ran with the jogger that came as a travel system with her car seat. This worked fine for us.
In the warmer months, I definitely recommend a clip on fan to keep your child cool. I also use a bug repellant that clips onto the stroller.
In the cooler months, socks, fleece footie pajamas and blankets.
To keep Robyn entertained, we listen to music. I’ve also discovered that having toys that are only used during our runs keep her entertained. (Anything plastic and handheld that can survive being tossed out of the stroller a few times.) You also can’t go wrong with all the snacks (cheerios, puffs, pouches).
What’s some advice you’d offer to new momma as far as running is concerned
First, listen and follow your doctor’s instructions when it comes to resuming activity post delivery
As the say goes, listen to your body
When returning or starting new activities, just listen to your body. You know your limitations. Only you will know if you can safely push yourself a little harder or if you need to scale back a bit.
Some women are able to return to exercising weeks after delivery whereas others may need months. Just like every newborn is different, every postpartum experience is different- don’t compare yourself to others.