Couch to 5K? From Bed to Half Marathon: Getting Back into Running Postpartum

It can be daunting starting training for something new, or even getting back into an old routine again after taking an extended break. Add in a BIG life change, and many of us may go years before getting back after it, or may “retire” for good. 

I recently trained for and ran a half marathon. It was not my first ever, but was my first postpartum half marathon after baby #2 and taking a break from running for nearly a year. Though I’m not breaking world records by any means, I’ve felt very confident in getting back into my groove and even improving upon where I personally had been before having kiddos and taking some time off. Here is what I found worked well for me.

  1. Time. I waited until about 12 weeks postpartum to start running again. After growing and birthing a baby, our bodies need time to heal-especially before getting back into literally pounding the pavement.
  2. Strength training. In the interim, I worked through a strength training guide targeted specifically towards the postpartum period, progressing appropriately and highlighting core and pelvic floor exercises in addition to the upper/lower/full body strength training exercises three times weekly. These are mostly body weight and some light weight or resistant band exercises that may be done at home. I enjoyed and recommend the Expecting and Empowered program. (see link below)
  3. Well balanced running program. A friend introduced me to Hal Higdon’s half marathon training guide which I’ve used during the past few long races I’ve run, helping me feel the best prepared. Typically I run 3-4 days per week with a medium length run, interval/speed run, short/easy run, and long run, all progressing as you get closer to race day. It is a 12 week program. I strategically only look at signing up for races when I can do most of my training in the spring or fall when the weather is more moderate.
  4. Regular chiropractic adjustments. Getting adjusted weekly helps keep my body aligned and functioning at its best. I often have Dr. Zak adjust me a day or two prior to my long runs, which is so vital in helping keep my gait feeling smooth and my recovery easier, as well as preventing or minimizing any potential injuries.
  5. Support. Big shout out to Dr. Zak on this one, also. As a parent, especially of young kids, unless you always train with the jogging stroller (I find this less enjoyable the further you’re running), it is key to have a support person that allows you to pop out on your runs. We both enjoy exercising in the mornings and work together to coordinate our workouts.
  6. Solid nutrition, hydration, and rest. These are all extremely important, even more so if you are nursing your baby while training-both for keeping up your supply and your own energy. Aim for frequent, nutrient dense snacks throughout the day (a few faves-energy balls-see our recent blog post for the recipe, almonds + chocolate chips, or peanut butter paired with a fruit or veggie), half of your body weight in ounces of water (we also love Dynamic Hydrate after a workout), and as many hours of sleep as the kids let you get (I aim for 7-8 nightly).

(*All of this advice may be applied to any sort of distance if a 5K is more of your goal, walking or running.)

Being active after having kids isn’t only good for your own health, but sets a good example for them to see as they grow up. (And, helps you more easily keep up with them.)

Wishing you the best in your endeavors! We are always here for you as your chiropractors and fellow parents cheering you on. You’ve got this. 

In good health,

Dr. Emily

Link to my favorite prenatal and postpartum workout guides:

Link to my half marathon training guides:

Post PR race with my babies! 11 months and 4 years old.