Stephanie Majeran, a Y member and client of Y personal trainer Annie Brees, shares her story of how she has worked towards wellness before, during and after pregnancy.
"I am still me, even when I can’t run."
I’ll preface this by saying that I’ve labeled myself as a runner since 2008, and once I decided I was a runner, I was gonna be a runner, whatever it took! It became my way to make friends and keep myself well-balanced. And so, when I found out I was pregnant, I was nervous that I would have to stop running (a.k.a. lose my sanity). I decided to just listen to my body and if I continued to feel good, I would continue running smart and slow. With this attitude, I made it to eight months pregnant, running one 5K a month.
I knew that I had to wait at least six weeks postpartum before I could think about running again. I wasn’t feeling ready to run any sooner than that anyway. At my six-week postpartum visit, my doctor said everything was healing nicely, so I asked if he thought I could start running again. He said to do exercises called kegels and ease back into running slowly. I went out a few days later and jogged, with very little walking, two miles. I had unexpected weird pains in my ankle, hip and pelvis. Like many runners, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, including a femoral stress fracture and plantar fasciitis, but these pains were in completely new areas. This worried me enough to look into getting some help.
"Running does not define me, it is simply one of the things I like to do."
I considered two different places for help: a personal trainer or a running coach. I had seen that the YMCA offered a postpartum small group class, which led me to Annie. I also found a running coach who claimed to have worked with postpartum women, but my training as an aerobics instructor told me that I needed to work on my overall strength, not just on running. I scheduled to meet with Annie at eight weeks postpartum, but I had already scheduled to do a 5K the week before. She strongly discouraged me from running, so I forced myself to jog slowly and walk, remembering that I wanted to avoid getting injured.
I am so glad that I found Annie. Despite being an aerobics instructor, I didn’t understand what exercises were safe or could best heal my body. Prior to working with Annie, I thought I had to get sweaty and exhausted to really be exercising, but working through her postpartum training plan, I have realized the importance of proper, targeted strength training.
"I only get this one body."
I have also been surprised that taking a longer hiatus from running hasn’t been as difficult as I expected. My attitude about running, and exercise in general, has shifted to focusing on becoming stronger and really listening to my body. Sometimes runners tend to ignore minor injuries so we can keep running. Instead, now I’m paying attention to my body and signs that mean I’m not yet strong enough to be running regularly. I’m working with a physical therapist in addition to the strength program, with the tentative goal to get back to my three runs a week by spring.
These are my two biggest takeaways since giving birth and going through the postpartum healing phase:
I am still me, even when I can’t run. Running does not define me, it is simply one of the things I like to do.
I only get this one body and I want to make sure it is strong enough to last and keep up with my little one.