It always feels awkward returning to the blog after an extended (in this case, EXTREMELY EXTENDED) hiatus. Launching into a post without acknowledging the gap seems odd, but explanations sound more like excuses and, in the end, who really cares?
I don’t know. Hello? Hello! I’m back. I have 2 kids now and I haven’t run for over a year. Oops. The “oops” pertains to the fact that I haven’t run for a year. I intended to have two kiddos, so……well done, me. Procreation goal complete!
I would love to feel like a runner again. I would love to be in decent shape and be able to go out for a 6 or a 7 miler without breaking a (figurative) sweat. “Oh, I ran an easy 7 today,” I’d like to be able to say.
There’s one thing standing in my way right now…well…erm…make that TWO.
I’m not talking about the kids, although scheduling a workout around the demands of mommyhood and miscellaneous adulting is not easy. The problem, you see, is that I’ve opted to breastfeed our second born, and I’ve gone from size 34A (pre-baby) to 36D.
At age 33, I’ve got boobs.
I have little to no idea how to cope with that.
The obvious first step was to BUY A SPORT BRA THAT FITS, so at about 3 months postpartum I did just that. I went to Target and bought the typical stretchy (and cheap) sports bra that I’ve worn before…just in a size LARGE rather than SMALL. Done and done, I think to myself.
Then I went on my first run after having a baby and learned a very valuable lesson: sports bras for the curvy need to actually DO something. As a flat-chested runner, the sports bra is mostly about covering what should be covered. If it looked cute, that was an added bonus. As a nursing mama runner, I learned that the added weight and bounce must be compensated for…or I will pay the price with every step.
So, I texted a friend who’s always been naturally gifted in the chestral department. “Tried to run…OW! What kind of sport bra do I need?” She texted back some recommended brands and I learned another lesson: pretty much every bra manufacturer makes a variety of “support” options. Huh. Seems like I should’ve noticed that before, but I’d always just bought the cheapest option, which of course is the one with “light support.”
Armed with this newfound knowledge, I bought a far sturdier sports bra and tried again. This time, everything stayed in place but the entire contraption felt so confining. It was hard to breathe. Dang boobs! Why is this so difficult?
After that experience, I let myself push running to the side. Maybe I’ll pick it back up in another 6-8 months, when the baby is (possibly) weaning. It just seemed like it wasn’t worth the effort. I’d as soon run with scissors as run with boobs.
The desire to “be a runner again” isn’t easy to squash, however. And because I’d rather not be attempting to get in shape in the middle of a Kansas summer (adding another degree of difficulty and discomfort to the already less-than-ideal equation of 1 year without running + 2 boobs), I tried again.
The third time may really BE the charm.
Or I’m just getting used to these things.
Or I’m a little farther out from giving birth and I’ve recovered even more.
Or…who cares? I went for a 2-mile run, and it felt surprisingly decent. That’s good enough for me!
Now, flush with a runner’s high (or delirious from prolonged sleep deprivation), I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some tips with any other nursing mama runners out there:
Tip #1: Get the Ugly One
I’m used to buying sports bras based on pretty color or cool pattern. DO NOT FALL INTO THIS TRAP. Seek out the ugly duckling of the sports bra world. You want something with thick shoulder straps and without too much elastic. If you can slingshot it across the store, it’s not for you. (Also, maybe don’t slingshot bras across a store. I think they frown on that.) It should feel sturdy and a little rigid. You need it to be strong enough to be up to the considerable task.
Tip #2: Try that puppy on.
It’s surprisingly tricky to get the right fit. Less elastic means more trouble finding just the right thing. You need something tight enough to provide that all-too-important support, but not so tight that it inhibits breathing.
Tip #3: Don’t forget the pads.
One of the only annoying things about breastfeeding is that you can’t turn the system off. It’s always there, ready to go. The bouncing, the movement, the warmth, or some combination thereof can unexpectedly activate letdown. I slip in some nursing pads as insurance against the wet t-shirt.
Tip #4: Pump (or Nurse) Before You Go
Make it easier on yourself by lightening your load before you go. It will make things more comfortable all the way around, decrease the risk of unexpected letdown, and if you’re like me and your baby refuses to take a bottle (augh!!!) it increases the chance that you can get a run in before a full on “I WANT MAMA/A SNACK” meltdown ensues. A win for everyone.
Tip #5: Splurge on a few workout tops.
I’ve been fighting this one because I hate to spend money on a temporary situation, but I’d recommend buying at least two comfy workout tops that accommodate your new bust size. If I had things that actually fit, I’d probably have a little more motivation to get out there and run. Since I’m being stubbornly cheap, every attempt to run involves fishing through a pile of shirts that just don’t fit and squeezing into a too-small something and then frowning at myself in the mirror at all the extra bulges. It’s an unnecessary blow to my self-confidence.
Those are my tips! What haven’t I thought of?