How to Train for a 5K After You Have a Baby

This 6-week plan will help you get in race-shape.

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*We’ve partnered with Mountain Buggy to help you achieve your #fitmomintentions.

If you’re looking for a little motivation to get yourself back into shape after baby, sign up for a 5K! Even if you’re not a serious runner, running 3.1 miles (especially if you race for a good cause) is an attainable goal, no matter what your fitness level. The best part? You can push yourself while you’re pushing baby in your running stroller!

In the next installment of our #fitmomintentions with Mountain Buggy, we’ll be sharing a 6-week plan to help you train for a 5K after you have a baby, courtesy of our fitness editor Roma Van der Walt. Because whether your postpartum fitness goal is to run a marathon or just take daily walks with baby, can actually achieve your #fitmomintentions with just a stroller, your baby, and a little perseverance.

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Below, new mom Stephanie Stanley, a Brooklyn-based photographer, shows you how it’s done!

Training for a 5K Run (with a Running Stroller!)

Workout Goals: To run a 5K!

Props: Mountain Buggy Terrain Stroller, which has superior maneuverability and maximum control. It also has adjustable handlebar to ensure you’re running ergonomically, a hand brake for quick stops, and shock-absorbing suspension to make your run super-smooth for baby.

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Precautionary Advice: Your child should be at least 6 months to ride in the stroller while you’re running (or older if his or her neck control isn’t great).

Week 1:

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Week 2:

  • The goal of your 5k run is to get through 3.1 miles strong, happy and uninjured. Before each run, make sure to dynamically stretch the thighs, hamstrings and adductors. (Dynamic means you shouldn’t hold the stretches for too long, but come in and out of the stretch.)
  • Start by running by time rather than how much distance you cover. Set a goal of running for 20 minutes on 2 days per week, and 30 minutes on a weekend day.
  • If you have an older child, run to pick up with the younger child, and then use the walk home as your cool down.
  • If you have childcare, try to alternate runs with and without your running stroller, and gradually add it into more runs as you gain more strength.
    Add yoga into your routine to help you stay limber.

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Week 3:

  • Increase your runs by 5 minutes each. Try and run 25 minutes two days per week, and 35 minutes on the weekend.
  • If you are running with the stroller, make sure that you learn how to stroller run properly. Don’t hold the handle bar too high and don’t hunch over it. Ideally you will run next to the stroller, pushing with one arm on the handlebar at slightly above hip level.
  • If you have the time, incorporate strength moves like walking lunges and squats (hyperlink other article) into your cooldown.
  • Hydrate and eat enough, especially if you are breastfeeding. Running can lower your milk supply if you don’t replenish adequately.

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Week 4:

  • Work on your speed! Warm up by running for 10 minutes, then alternate 2 minutes of faster running and 1 minute of slow running for five repetitions. Cool down by running easy for 10 minutes.
  • Increase the duration of your weekend run to 40 minutes. If you don’t have a running buddy, listen to an inspiring podcast like ‘Another MotherRunner.’
  • Keep doing your kegels and pelvic floor exercises. Running will expose those weaknesses very quickly and could exacerbate them.
  • Buy a new race outfit that makes you feel fit and confident, and take it for a test run!

Week 5:

  • Add one more 20-minute run. It’s better for your body to run four times per week, than to try and run much longer on one of your three days of running.
  • Increase your weekend long run to 45 minutes, and increase the duration of your speed workout portion. For example: Warm up for 10 minutes, then do four repetitions of 5 minutes fast running with 1 minute of easy running in between. Finish with a 5-minute cooldown. The other two runs should be around 20-25 minutes.
  • Pay attention to your form as you get tired. Drop your shoulders, breathe through your mouth and keep your step rate high. By shortening the ground contact consciously when you get tired, you will maintain better form and run faster.
  • Practice a mantra for when it gets harder in the race, like inhaling and repeating “relax, relax” and exhaling and repeating “push, push.” (Kinda like labor isn’t it?!)

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Week 6 (RACE WEEK):

  • Don’t run too close to race day. Do your speed workout early in the week: Warm up for 10 minutes, then do two repetitions of 10 x 30 seconds fast/30 secs easy. Finish with a 10-minute cooldown. Run two more easy runs before the big day.
  • Make sure your support system knows where to cheer you on to help you through the race. Ask friends and family to position themselves around 2.5 miles, when it usually gets harder.
  • Eat a good breakfast about 2 hours before the race. Breastfeed or pump, and warm up with some dynamic stretching. You can also do some lunges and squats (two sets of 10 of each).
  • Enjoy the race! This is quite literally your victory lap. Not only did you sign up for this, but you managed to make the time to train. Did we mention you had a baby not too long ago? Congrats, mama.

Photography by Stephanie Stanley for Well Rounded.

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Jessica Pallay

Jessica Pallay

JESSICA PALLAY is the Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer of Well Rounded NY. She is a Brooklyn mama to Libby and Elsie, and writes about all things pregnancy and new motherhood.

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