So many women who follow me started doing so when I was running through my last pregnancy. Most of the questions I receive from female runners are about running and fitness both during and after pregnancy: “What kind of stroller is best? When should I begin running again?” And of course: “How do I get back to running as a nursing mama?”
This week, I’m excited to bring you some amazing insight into nursing as a #motherrunner. This week’s Running Shoes interview is with Ellen (@ellebelleruns) who is not only a distance runner, but a mother of two who continues to nurse both of her adorable children. Ellen has been nursing in tandem with running for 2.5 years – if anyone can give you some solid advice on how to make running and nursing work together, it’s definitely her!
Ellen first got into running to impress some dude (kidding – this “dude” is now her husband!) she met after college. Before then, she did not consider herself to be athletic: “After college, the guy I was dating was really into fitness so I started to run to try and impress him (I guess it worked because he’s my husband now!). A few years later, I signed up for my first half marathon- that’s when my true passion for running began.”
That was the first of nine half marathons for Ellen, and she ran her very first half in 2:29. Since then, she has shaved over thirty minutes off of her time and recently set a PR of 1:56.
Running has given Ellen what most of us, as mothers, desire: independence, patience, and a wealth of self-confidence.
Throughout her running career, Ellen has brought two children into the world: Cora (2.5) and Cooper (9 months). PS: Cooper & my Michael are going to be BFFs; they just don’t know it yet. Anyway! She nurses both Cora and Cooper daily, and of course, I wondered how she fits in training along with nursing two children. Her secret? Relax a bit and run when you can. “Before having children, I would wait for conditions to be perfect for a run: Not too close to a meal time, not too early, not too late, etc.. Now, I take that time whenever I can squeeze it in! Sometimes that’s at 4 a.m.; other times it’s right after a big lunch during nap time.”
Ellen also notes that planning ahead, when possible, makes things easier – but we all know that sometimes things don’t go as planned (especially with kids). In that case, she makes it a point to go with the flow (both “time flow” and “milk flow” – see what I did there?!).
Still, those of us who have pumped know that it’s extremely challenging and (at times) taxing to feed, pump, repeat – over and over. Ellen suggests pumping immediately before a long run so there’s not much discomfort for an extended period of time. If she’s got her stroller and kids in tow, however, she’s pumped during long runs, noting that running during the newborn phase can be tricky because nursing and pumping seem to happen constantly.
While she may have been a bit paranoid about compromised milk supply during her running journey as a first-time mom, Ellen says running has not affected her supply at all. “I always run with my water bottle no matter what, and I make sure to drink water throughout my run. The first thing I do when I finish my run is grab a glass of water and drink it all.” Hydration, ladies. It’s always about hydration, but even moreover when you’re nursing! Ellen suggests drinking 80-100 ounces of water per day as a nursing, athletic mama.
And, in addition to nursing, Ellen notes that proper calorie intake is essential, especially during the start of postpartum running: “Build up your mileage gradually and see how your body handles…both [nursing and running] at once. Make sure you are eating enough calories for both. Both nursing and running take a lot of energy so make sure your fuel properly!”
When I was nursing and running, I had a lot of trouble finding a sports bra that was both comfortable and supportive. Ellen suggests the Lululemon Energy Bra for both of those things, and you can take a look and purchase here. It’s super cute!
Ellen’s final words of advice are to try not to get too stressed or worried about both nursing and running: “Being a mom and having a newborn is hard enough without added pressure. This is a short time in your life and it really does go by too fast!”
Thanks, Ellen, for interviewing and providing us #motherrunners with some valuable insight! You can follow Ellen’s running journey on Instagram: https://instagram.com/ellebelleruns.
Peace, Milk, and Running –
Looking to stay more organized as a #motherrunner? Get your copy of the Run Like A Mother Training Planner & Journal!
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