return to running

  • How to Return to Peloton Classes Postpartum

    Introduction

    A question I hear a lot is “How do I return to peloton classes postpartum?”. Peloton already has some great postpartum strength classes but what about the cardio classes? Don’t worry. As a Peloton fanatic and postpartum exercise coach, I’ve got you covered. Below, I explain the what, when, where, why and how of returning to peloton workouts postpartum.

    Getting Started

    When you are first returning to exercise postpartum, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind.

    1. Get Medical Clearance

    Even if you had an active pregnancy, it’s a good idea to get medical clearance before returning to anything more than walking and restorative exercise. Our bodies did something pretty amazing by creating a human and laboring or enduring a c-section. Some of the healing is hard for us to see. Getting clearance at your postpartum follow up appointment, around 6 weeks postpartum, is a great idea. 

    2. Start with Short Workouts

    Starting with short workouts gives us an opportunity to see how a workout impacts us without requiring a ton of recovery time. These first workouts are essentially a test to see how our body responds before adding on more. 

    I recommend starting with a 10-minute workout and adding on in small increments ( about 5-10 minutes). In the 48 hours following a workout, you will watch for pain, incontinence, excessive fatigue or hunger, and/or a dip in your milk supply. If you are symptom-free, you can move onto the next time duration. If you did have any of those symptoms, I recommend figuring out how you can resolve these issues before lengthening your workout. For example, if you were excessively hungry, could you eat more after your workout. If your milk supply dipped, consider if you need to hydrate more. 

    3. Wait 48-Hours Between Workouts

    This isn’t a forever rule, but it is helpful the first few weeks. It gives you an opportunity to see how a workout impacts you, including the day after the workout. You may also find you need more recovery time right now. Lack of sleep, stress, and breastfeeding can make it harder to recover from a workout. If you are not recovering, you likely won’t see the progress you are hoping for. 

    4. Stick with low-intensity efforts

    In the first few weeks returning to exercise postpartum, stick to low to moderate intensity workouts. You shouldn’t be out of breath. This will make it easier to recover from workouts, so you can workout more consistently. Working out every day will over you more value than one hard workout every five days. Keeping workouts low intensity also leaves you with energy left in the tank. This is really important for parents who need to be ready to go with the flow.

    5. Pay Attention to Pain

    Oh, how I wish I had taken my own advice on this one. About 4 months postpartum, I injured my meniscus when I ignored a weird feeling in my knee and decided to play tennis anyway. I ended up spending months in physical therapy instead of running or playing tennis.

    If something feels off, trust your instinct. Thanks to hormones, lack of sleep, and sometimes lacking pelvic stability, postpartum people are at a higher risk of injury. Reach out to a physical therapist who works with postpartum people to help you understand what is going on and your unique action plan.

    Your First Peloton Cycling, Row, and Tread Classes Postpartum

    We’ve talked about some guidelines to help you return to exercise postpartum. Now it’s time to get to the fun stuff! Not all classes are created equal when it comes to being postpartum-friendly. Here are some details to look for when choosing classes the first few weeks.

    Cycling

    Start with low-impact or beginner rides. They tend to include minimal, if any, time out of the saddle. Standing on the bike requires a lot of core strength and stability. If we don’t have that available, our knees are more vulnerable to injury and we may experience a lot of downward pelvic pressure and/or leaking. These classes also focus on form and tend to use really supportive language. If you are competitive like me, it can be hard to ignore an instructors cue to “leave it all on the table” even if that’s not your goal for the day. So I like to remove the temptation and focus on lower intensity classes.

    It’s ok to choose a more intense class because you love the instructor, music, or live class timeslot. But make sure you go into with a plan. Ignore the class cues if they don’t align with your goals for that workout. And, of course, have a blast!

    Row

    Rowing is a new love of mine. I like that it is low-impact and a full-body workout. It’s generally safe to start rowing again when you have been cleared to resume exercise. However, you may need to adjust your form and technique as you work on regaining your core strength. 

     

    The Lean Back

    Be cautious with the backwards lean during the drive phase if you have diastasis recti or show signs of coning. If you are having trouble controlling abdominal pressure, consider removing or minimizing the lean back while you focus on ab rehab.

    Use Your Breath

    You may feel a lot of outward or downward core/pelvic pressure during the drive phase. If so, use your breath to support your movement. For many people, starting their exhale before they push off will help engage the core and pelvic floor muscles. 

    Use Both Sides of the Body Equally

    After having a baby, some people find themselves accidentally favoring a side. Make sure you are sitting facing forward, not leaning to one side, and pushing off with both feet equally.

    Tread/Outdoor Runs

    Running is a higher impact activity than cycling or row. Therefore, many people return to running later than other lower impact activities. Based on the guidance from this Internal Journal of Sports Therapy paper, you may benefit from the strategy below. I highly recommend checking out the linked journal article for a first-hand overview of their recommendations and additional details. 

    Postpartum Weeks 3-4 or Later
    • Start walking 15 minutes or less; increase frequency and duration as long as feels good
    Postpartum Weeks 5-7 or Later

    Transition to walking up to 30 minutes or less as long as continue to be symptom-free

    Postpartum Weeks 8-12 or Later

    Complete a Return-to-Run Self-Assessment and/or get a professional assessment from a physical therapist who works with postpartum runners. This will help you understand your body’s ability to handle the impact of running and what strength exercises you may want to start focusing on. 

    If the assessment goes well, you can consider adding short running intervals to your walks. The run intervals should stay 60 seconds or less. The recovery interval should be at least twice as long as the run interval. This isn’t a sprint. Run intervals should be a low to moderate intensity level. If you can’t get out a long sentence, you are going too hard. 

    I’d recommend sticking with Peloton Walking classes during this phase. The recommended run segment durations are shorter than you will generally see in a Walk/Run class. And remember, there is no benefit to starting this phase if it feels bad. You may find spending a few weeks focusing on strength training makes the run intervals feel a heck of a lot better. 

    Postpartum Week 13+ or Later

    Assuming all is going well, you can transition to Walk/Run classes. Peloton has a great 8-week intro running program called “You Can Run” (Tread) and “You Can Run Outdoors”. I recently completed this program and loved it! Even as an experienced runner and certified run coach, I really benefited from their cues during each walk/run.

    There are two things to keep in mind if you start this program. First, you may need longer recovery segments than they are prescribing and that is ok! Remember our guidelines and don’t be afraid to shorten a run segment or a workout if it is too much. Second, returning to running postpartum is rarely a linear process. So there is a decent chance you aren’t going to perfectly stick to their timeline. There are a million reasons why you might need to repeat a class or take it late. I know we all want to earn the badges, but go at your own pace and try to enjoy the process. You will get there!

    Conclusion

    I hope this was helpful! Still have questions? I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to message me at erin@therunningdoula.com or DM me on Instagram (erintherunningdoula).

    Want a custom plan? Check out my coaching services!

  • How to Choose an Alternative Workout When You Can’t Run

    Plan A and B crossed out, Plan C not crossed out

    When your run just isn't going to happen

    It happens to all of us. You scheduled a run today and life is getting in the way. Your kiddo is home sick, the weather is miserable, or your schedule suddenly went from packed to exploding with meetings. You could just skip your run and plan to move it to tomorrow. But pushing your run out a day could throw off your workout schedule for the rest of the week. Not to mention, who knows what new adventure tomorrow is going to bring?!

    When I was first returning to running a few months postpartum, I often tried to “reschedule” my workout for the next day. I quickly learned that didn’t work for me. My workouts became sporadic, and I wasn’t getting any stronger. So I came up with a new plan. When I couldn’t run, I found alternative workouts that fit my day and still shared some of the same benefits as running.

    Woman pulling child in stroller behind her

    1. Shorten your scheduled walk/run

    Don’t have time for a 30-minute walk/run, what about 15-minutes? Won’t have time to freshen up after your run. What if you walked at a comfortable pace instead of running, so you didn’t break a sweat. While we don’t want to shorten or lower the intensity of every workout, it’s ok to do it when it means the difference between doing nothing and doing something. It’s still a literal step in the right direction.

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    Check that walk/run box! It’s a progress tracker, not a perfection tracker. 

    Woman Exercising Online

    2. Do a HIIT cardio workout

    This is one of my favorite alternative workouts when I unexpectedly have a child home during my planned walk/run. While certainly not identical to running, HIIT cardio workouts and running do share some benefits. Generally, they both increase your heart rate, include impact exercise, and strengthen your leg muscles. 

    This Peloton 20-minute HIIT Cardio Class is one I have used before in place of a walk/run. As always, don’t be afraid to modify an exercise, as needed. For instance, maybe you can’t do a mountain climber on the floor without a child crawling on your back. Try doing it with your hands on a steady piece of furniture or the wall instead. 

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    I would check the “cross training” box and the “strength” training box. You got two for the price of one! Also, pay attention to the level of impact in your workout. If it was a medium-to-high impact workout, apply the same guidelines as if you had run that day. For instance, if you aren’t running on consecutive days, I wouldn’t do a high impact class and a run on consecutive days either until your body adapts to the impact.

    Adult and child-sized exercise bike side-by-side

    3. Break a sweat on a cardio machine

    If you own cardio equipment, this can be a great alternative when you can’t get out of the house. I have had to resort to this many a time and will humbly prove it by sharing a picture of my messy exercise space/office/toddler craft room. If you have a kiddo nearby, keep your expectations low. Not only will their attention span likely shorten your workout, but you will need stay aware of their movements to keep them safe. 

    Also, keep in my mind, cardio equipment, like bikes and rowers, generally offer low-impact workouts. If you start replacing a lot of runs with low-impact cardio workouts, don’t get fooled into thinking you can skip ahead in your walk/run progression plan. Your cardiovascular fitness will likely improve faster. However,  your body isn’t getting consistent opportunities to adapt to impact. So just because you aren’t huffing and puffing on a run doesn’t mean you are ready for a longer run segment. You need to slowly progress your body’s exposure to impact, too. 

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    I would mark the “cross training” box. You got your heart rate up and worked on your cardiovascular fitness! 

    Child Running on Football Field

    4. Just Dance

    If your kids are little, you likely have plenty of opportunities to rock out to some KIDZ BOP. You can get your kids wiggles out and your workout in at the same time. Not a dancer? Then, embrace the 500 other ways kids break a sweat every day. This could include a game of chase, running around at the playground, or kicking a soccer ball. Like the other alternative options, this shouldn’t replace all of your walk/run workouts. But its a great way to keep making progress when the choice is between nothing or something. Not to mention, your kids will love it and it might even make you smile, too. 

    How should I mark this workout on my progress tracker?

    You will most likely have a chance to mark the “cross training” checkbox. If you found ways to sneak in some lunges, push ups, monkey bars, etc, feel free to count this as a strength workout, too. There is even a small chance you got some medium-to-high impact exercise in. For instance, if you were jumping rope or really a dancing machine. 

    Conclusion

    Next time to need to skip a run, I hope this list gives you some ways to continue working towards your running goals. Remember, no single workout needs to look perfect. Consistency is the key to making progress and perfection should never be the expectation. Sometimes doing 50% of the plan is 100% good enough!