Prepare for Running Postpartum: 3 Steps to Build Aerobic Capacity

In order to prepare for running postpartum, it’s important to first rebuild your aerobic capacity or your cardiovascular endurance.

The process does not have to be complicated or difficult and there is NO reason why you can’t start immediately after you have your baby! 

You don’t have to start immediately, but you certainly can if you’re feeling up to it. 

Here are 3 easy steps to follow to prepare for running postpartum.

Step 1: Walk to get the blood flowing

Most newborns do not want to be put down. Mine wouldn’t (and still won’t sometimes!) LET me put her down! We started to use a Moby wrap soon after she was born. You can use any wrap or carrier that you like and is appropriate for your baby’s age and weight.

Our “walks” consisted of laps around my dining table at first. These were mostly “wrap naps” as I call them, to try to get baby to sleep. 

They were short and frequent throughout the day. My tolerance for standing and walking was fairly minimal for the first 2 weeks postpartum.

Walking at this point was really just to change position from the tons of time I was spending nursing and holding baby while sitting. 

My walking was super gentle and slow and to tolerance only. So, stop when you need to and walk at a very comfortable pace.

Step 2: Walk with purpose

At about 2 weeks postpartum, I started getting on the treadmill. Again, I would time these out with when baby needed a nap, or when she was super fussy and just needed some movement.

And I was also walking for me, for the purpose of actually “going for a walk.” This helped me also get into the mental mindset to prepare for running postpartum.

I continued with the Moby wrap at first but then transitioned to my Ergo carrier.

I started with a short amount of time, like 15 to 30 minutes. I kept the pace slow and comfortable. I did not push the speed or add any incline at this point.

Because I had my little one in the freezing cold months in New England, the treadmill was my best option to get in my walks. 

If you have your baby in warmer months, you can walk outside either with baby in a wrap or in a stroller. 

Step 3: Increase walk variables

After a while, 30 minutes felt comfortable, as did my pace. So I would try to increase my speed little by little. I still had some pelvic joint pain with flat walking, and if I went too fast, it would aggravate my pelvis. So I would back it down to where it was comfortable.

Use your own body signals as far as adjusting your speed.

After speed became more normalized, then I started adding in inclines. If you’re walking outside, move your walks from flat terrain to a route that has a hill or two. For me, I took my little one out on hikes on our property that has a couple short gradual hills.

Lastly, I started pushing the speed and the inclines a bit more. I added in speed walk/recovery walk intervals. I also started using the double stroller and took both kids for walks outside.

Incorporating the variables of time, inclines and speed will help you further prepare for running postpartum.

And that’s it! 

Walking while wearing a baby is no easy feat! I definitely work up a sweat and get my heart pumping! Think of it as progressive weight training (as baby grows bigger!) in order to prepare for running postpartum! 

My littlest one still walks with me on the treadmill regularly during the week. My now almost 3 year old walked with me either on the treadmill or outside up until the Fall of last year when I was pregnant! On rainy days, I used to put him in the big Osprey hiking pack and we walked on the treadmill together!!

All of the walking I did before I started running really paid off. I had no issues with my cardiovascular endurance when I started running again!

So go strap that baby on, and nap him or her to sleep while you get your exercise in !!

Other Articles of Interest

4 Tips on Returning to Running Postpartum Successfully

Pelvic Floor Rehab After Baby

Is Breastfeeding Affected by Running?

Yoga Stretches for Runners

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