I usually run around my block in the morning. Since the sun is rising later, I have turned to the gym to run on the dreaded treadmill. I hate the treadmill, but I’m afraid to run in the early, dark hours. I am scared that something bad is going to happen to me and I won’t see it coming. Women are vulnerable when it is dark and they are alone. This is the norm society has built around us. So, as I train to run a half marathon, I also have to keep in mind my safety.
Half of my concern is legitimate because women do get assaulted while they are out running or walking. That is the world we live in. The other half of that fear is from my anxiety, which enhances the mindset from cautious to down right fear. My anxiety causes me to fear things like crowded rooms with few exits, open areas of large crowds, tight spaces, and the dark. I avoid opening day at the movie theater, I’m not a fan of parades or festivals, I sleep with a light on, planes make me extremely nervous, and I usually don’t go out after dark. This is my life.
I fell in love with running after college. Before, what seemed like extensive, unnecessary work, turned into a moment of power and freedom. I loved everything about it. The determination and strength I built within when I pushed myself. The liberation I felt during it, surrounded by quiet and serenity. My mind was cleared, and my thoughts were only on the next distance, the next corner, the next mile. I felt stronger, healthier, and confident. I was proud of the person I was, as an avid runner, and I was proud of what I had accomplished.
Running was not a competition for me. I ran races, but I did not compete. I didn’t attempt to make the top ten and I didn’t train to get ribbons and trophies. Running, for me, was personal. It was a stress reliever, an anxiety reducer, and a light at the end of the tunnel. When I felt consumed with darkness, I chased it away with my running. I ran in races, not to win, but to be challenged. To push myself beyond my limits, and to forget the chaos in my mind. To celebrate an actual mile-stone, for every new distance I completed, or to force myself to run further. A race was a checkpoint achievement.
You could imagine my disappointment, when I was told by my doctor, that I would have to take it easy after I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum during my pregnancy. My aspirations to keep running through out, collapsed. I would have to retire my running shoes for a full nine months. I was heart broken and a little nervous as to how I was going to manage my anxiety. Being pregnant is stressful on its own, now I had to deal with anxiety while pregnant with a complication. It was no easy defeat.
Fast forward nine months and two weeks later, my eagerness to get back into my running shoes was shattered when the doctor told me I would have to deliver by an emergency cesarean section. My recovery was very long. Almost ten months later, I still struggle with discomfort and pain. It’s been an extremely frustrating journey for me. I have gravitated toward yoga and meditation to help me heal physically, as well as find an escape from my cluttered mind. Yet, it is not the same, and it is not as freeing and relieving.
As my postpartum journey comes to a close, I am preparing for the next chapter by dusting of my running shoes. I am a very long way from where I was almost two years ago, but I am ready to start over. Yes, I have walked a few times in the beginning of my postpartum recovery, and even ran twice. Yet, starting out this time feels different. It feels different physically because I feel stronger. It feels different mentally because I feel determined with a set goal in mind. Yes, I will take it easy, but regardless of how far the distance is, I will be running again.
Walking is not the same as running, and when you’re juggling both a dog and a stroller. It’s not exactly freeing either, but it’s a start. It’s the beginning of a battle that I am ready to fight this time. It is the creation of a routine that will turn into a pattern like it had in the past. Running will become second nature once again, and I am determined to get there. Regardless of how long it may take. I am ready to be a better me.
Today, a simple walk around the block, but tomorrow is full of what could be. Where will this determination take me? Where ever it is, I am ready! I am ready to leave this chapter behind as I turn the page into the next part of my life.
If you are trying to get back into exercising, take it slow. Don’t attempt to be where you were before you stopped. If it has been a long period of time, your body will need a chance to adjust. Have respect for it and give it the love it deserves. Start with an easy program if you are into cardio. Start at the beginning and allow your body to build up to the agility level. If your lifting weights, start light and work your way up. Pushing your body beyond it’s limitations could cause injury, prolonging your efforts to get back into shape.
Don’t feel discouraged when you are starting out. Think of where you were before you stopped exercising and how long it took you to get there. You are not going to have results over night and that is okay. You will get there!
Every person is different, so don’t compare your recovery efforts to those around you. Go at your own pace. Listen to your body and respect your own journey. It is yours alone, no one else’s. Also, don’t allow someone else determine your level of recovery. They don’t know your body like you do, they aren’t experiencing your discomfort, and they don’t have to deal with the repercussions of any potential injuries. Follow the path that is right for you.
Healing and being with my daughter were my main priorities this past year. Although they will always remain the most important parts of who I am, a mother, I am eager to explore my future abilities and potential. A mother who will set great examples for the little eyes looking up at me.
Today I walk, but tomorrow, I will run!
I move on to the next piece of my recovery journey; rebuilding myself, both physically and mentally, at my own pace. I still experience pain and discomfort and I will adjust my health plan accordingly. I will rip up the expectations of who I think I need to be and set new goals to become the new person I want to be. I will take my mental health seriously and indulge in practices that will improve my mental wellness. Join me Moms and Dads, in my Postpartum Recovery Series as I build a happier and healthier me. I hope I can inspire you to do the same.
If you would like to be a part of the Postpartum Recovery Link-Up here’s what you can do:
1.) Follow me
2.) Talk about anything regarding your postpartum struggles (dad’s you can get in on this too) or your health after becoming a parent and the journey you are experiencing in improving both physically and mentally. You can also discuss things like how your mental health affects you as a parent, how your modeling great eating habits for your kids, how exercising has given you more energy to keep up with your toddlers, etc.
3.) Copy and post this statement at the end of your post, “I am participating in the weekly health and wellness challenge, Postpartum Recovery Challenge Link-Up hosted by Messy Mama”
4.) Once you post up your weekly challenge blog, click the Inlinks button below, check out other linked posts, and add your post. I will share each link post on twitter.
5.) Share your own post with hashtag #PostpartumRecoveryChallenge.
The link up will open on Wednesday morning and close Sunday night
Thank you to all who participate, and I am excited to see everyone’s unique health and wellness journey.