Lately, I’ve been in awe of some pretty amazing comebacks from new moms (and I don’t have to look very far, considering Bec just ran a 17:38 5K!). While I’m slowly-but-surely still working on my own post-baby breakthrough, I’ve found motivation and inspiration in fellow AthleteMoms who are out there doing their thing mere months if not weeks after giving birth. Of course, there’s no set timeline for and some of us might take years before we feel like we can compete with our former selves. And some of us may never reach the same level of fitness. But I think that, as a whole, women aren’t slowing down after having babies—in fact, we’re only getting better. Here’s why:
We’re tougher. We’ve endured 40 weeks of weird aches and nagging pains, of carrying extra weight around, our ab muscles stretched apart. Toward the end of my last pregnancy, I had eight-and-a-half pounds of baby girl just crushing my pelvis to the point where I could hardly walk. After that, being able to run seemed like a gift. And then there’s the whole labor and delivery that we endured which makes any pain experienced in a race pale in comparison. Plenty of times I’ve told myself, “You’ve given birth to three babies, nothing is tougher than that! Suck it up and get to the finish line.” A crazy little mantra, but it’s so true. And it works.
We’re more focused. If you’re lucky enough to have time to yourself to train during the day, you know you have to maximize every one of those minutes. At my gym I have exactly two hours—no more, no less—of childcare. In those two hours, I need to warm up, do my workout, foam roll, lift, shower (uh, sometimes) and try to squeeze a little actual work in, too (on a good day) . It’s my time, and I have to make it count. So, I come prepared with my workout plugged into my phone (because I can’t remember anything these days, a casualty to motherhood), my playlist ready to go, and I do, indeed, make it count.
We’ve got something to prove. Mostly to ourselves, that is. I am still gunning for those PRs I’ve been chasing for years and I believe they’re within reach, regardless of the fact that I’m constantly run ragged by my little ones. In fact, in a weird way, the stress and anxiety I experience with them actually motivates me to train harder on most days. Because none of us want to use motherhood as an excuse for slowing down.
We’ve got the best fans. Seriously. I can’t help but break out into a huge, cheesy grin when I see my little ones cheering for me. And in those dark and desperate moments of a tough race, I’m buoyed by thoughts of seeing those sweet faces at the finish line. Our kids don’t care if you didn’t hit your goal time or if you blew up at mile 10 or what place you came in (OK, so maybe my five-year-old likes to point out that I can’t actually “win” a race if I don’t beat the men…but he’s an exception.). They just want to see you run by and smile and wave like you’re having the greatest time of your life. To them, with your fancy shoes and your shiny medal and that cool number on your shirt, you’re Superwoman.