I saw a tweet last week from a new dad saying he was happy to be getting back on track with running post-baby. My first thought was along the lines of Post-Baby? You didn’t just have a baby!! But after letting his words sink in for a bit, I began to see more and more truth to what he said. True, the husbands are not the ones who just carried and delivered a child. BUT, they DO have a new baby in their lives – and in some ways, I think the spouse’s return to running post-baby may sometimes be tougher.
The woman has to deal with the physical limitations of having just given birth, but the spouse may have to deal with his/her own set of challenges that comes with being the spouse of a postpartum woman. I think it can be challenging for the spouse to juggle fitting in physical fitness while still being supportive at home (especially working a full-time job).
From my experience at home, I was given the full support of my husband to return to running very soon after both boys were born. I had very easy L&D and was given clearance to run when I felt ready. It wasn’t because I had a race on the calendar, but rather, because I loved running (and missed running w/o carrying around a watermelon!), wanted some semblance of control over my body back, and selfishly
needed enjoyed a bit of time away from the stress of a newborn (esp when it was my first!).
My running was made a priority in the house – whether that meant running before my husband went to work in the morning or high-fiving him when he got home and took over the parenting duties. It was always about how we were going to fit in time for me to get out for a bit. If he worked out, it was after my run was already checked off.
We have two early risers on our hands (5:30am for the oldest) which prevents us from working out at the same time in the AM (we do not like to rely on electronics to preoccupy our boys – especially at 6am). So these are are often his options if he wants to work out:
- Ridiculously early (4am) so that he is done in enough time to allow me to work out
- As soon as he gets home from work (but that would limit his time with the boys – which is not really an option for him)
- After they go to bed (~8:30)
I am the priority in the house. It’s been like that since our first son was born. And truth be told, even if there was time for him to work out, he would most often skip it because he felt guilty about leaving me alone with the boys after being at work all day. He would give me a break with the parenting duties so that I could clean, rest, do laundry.
What would my reaction have been at 2 weeks postpartum if he returned from work, announced he was going for a run, and up and left for an hour? Looking back, I’d like to think that I would have been amicable to it…but I am pretty certain if it was a long, tiring day with the two boys, I would have guilted him into staying and helping with the parenting. But there were plenty of days that I would head downstairs to the treadmill when he got home from work to get my run in. And that was acceptable.
I don’t want you to get the wrong impression with this post. My husband willingly and happily let his fitness take a back seat so that I could run and chase my big dreams because he knew how much it meant to me.
I’m training for multiple events right now (NJ Marathon, Ironman Lake Placid and JFK 50-miler) and training takes up a good portion of my mornings (5-7:30). My husband is 100% on board with my goals and training and supports me in every way possible.
BUT my husband also has a race on the calendar – the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 18. We agreed back in January that we would both run it – and race – to see who got household bragging rights. But the reality is that he hasn’t been able to follow any sort of training plan because I am the priority. Always the priority.
About 2-3 weeks ago, it finally hit me that I needed to stop monopolizing the workout time in the house and focus on making his fitness a priority as well. Working out for me makes me a happier, better mom. It makes me feel good. It is healthy for me. And I want him to have the same thing I have. I want him to be happy and proud of how fit he is in his mid-30s with 2 kids. I want him to get that competitive feeling back that he once had.
I’ve scaled down my ironman training at the moment (eliminated one swim and one run) and try to fit in a workout when the boys are napping during the day to cut back on the morning time. This has allowed him to run/bike in the AMs before I begin my workout. He’s now two weeks into his training plan for the half in May and has completed almost every workout on the schedule.
Females: Did you find that you running/working out was the priority in the house postpartum? Did you make time for your spouse?
Males: Did you feel guilty for running/working out post-baby?