I started back at running 4 weeks post op. My doctor cleared me for "light jogging." While I was physically able to start running at that time, it is important to know that running was all that I did. I found myself so tired for the rest of the day afterward that I accomplished NOTHING else. It may have been because of the type of reconstruction I had with alloderm, those with expanders may not feel this.
My plastic surgeon suggested that I layer on several sports bras so that I could feel very secure. However, I would highly recommend several zip front sports bras. I only had a few a first, so if I was doubling up, I had to also rely on my normal stand bys that I had pre-surgery. After a short run early on, I went to clean up and remove the two layers. The zip front one came off just fine, but I found myself stuck in my regular style one. I just couldn't move or bend my arms quite right to get it off and ended up taking a scissors to it. So...invest in several zip front sports bras. Now, over a year later, I no longer feel the need to layer. Instead I have invested in some higher quality sports bras that work much better.
Those first few runs took some major getting used to. Obviously, you have something new sitting there on your chest. It is going to feel strange. There was an extreme tightness at first. It may have been because my muscles were moving for the first time in a long time or they were getting used to the feeling of the implant moving. It was almost as though I was having a muscle cramp while running. For several months this would happened during my first mile of almost every run. When the tightness went away, I was back to feeling somewhat normal on runs. By 4 months post-op, I was back up to the mileage that I was at pre-surgery and by 6 months, I was running better than I ever had before. It is very important to take things slow and really listen to your body. My incisions healed very well, after my cording cleared up, I didn't have any problems to hold me back.
Even though, I'm now feeling back to normal, there are some idiosyncrasies that are important to know about. I still feel my implants move occasionally. It actually happens more when I am cross training than running, but it's something you need to anticipate feeling. If I push myself too hard or too far, I really feel it the next day, so much so that I actually have a squeaking sound. I've consulted my doctors about this and they promise that nothing is wrong. It's just my inflamed muscle rubbing against the implant or due to changes in air pressure. So...if you are sitting next to me at a quiet meeting and you hear me mention a long run the day before, there is a good chance that the squeaking you hear is not the chair.
Long runs leave me with some other issues as well. Runners often have issues during longer runs with body heat and clothing causing some chaffing. I have limited feeling in my entire chest and under arm area, so I don't feel this. But just because I don't feel it, doesn't mean it's not happening. I had some issues early on with my underarms rubbing against a not so flat shirt seem. After a 9 mile run this summer, I went to clean up and saw that my entire sports bra band area was rubbed raw. It didn't hurt, just looked awful. Now I have to religiously apply body glide to anywhere that there could possibly be a problem.
As I think of more things to consider, I'll be adding them here.
Christy's Race 2013: After all that training for the half marathon, this race felt like a breeze. I love this small local race. We don't have bib numbers, just a safety pin and a sticker with your name on it that they tear off you at the finish line. It is in honor of a former teacher and benefits students in my school district. I cut 4 minutes off my time from last year, finishing the 4 mile race in 35:45. I just need to work on keeping this pace up for longer distances.
Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon: This was my longest distance to date. I finished 13.1 miles in 2:19. I was a bit over my goal time, but considering the heat (which significantly hotter than it had been during all of my training) I am ok with that. I ran every step of the race together with my husband. One of my biggest concerns prior to surgery was what it would feel like to have an implant in me--would I ever feel so comfortable with it that I forget that it is there? Yes, 10 miles in forcing my legs to keep going, my fake boobs didn't cross my mind at all.
Fox Cities Marathon Relay: 2 teams of teachers at our school worked together to run 26.2 miles across nine different Fox Valley Area Cities. I volunteered for the final 6.2 leg of the course. It was a cold start waiting to cheer on the other runners at mile 10. The weather warmed up by the time it was my turn. I wound around through the downtown Neenah area, ironically on some of the same streets that I drove to first see Dr. Salm-Schmid a few years ago. I was really hoping our team could beat our time last year of 4:01. I wasn't looking for much, just maybe 4:00 even? But in the fun of the day our team had a little mishap at a handoff and I knew before I even started my leg that we wouldn't be making that, so my goal became to finish my section in less than an hour. I made it in 59:20, crossing the finish line with a great group of ladies there to help me. Our whole family was there in support as my brothers were also running the half and the full marathon.
BCFF Pink Pumpkin 5k: I had a good race, but not my finest. I finished in 26:56, which just barely meets my goal of staying below 9 minute miles. That time isn't bad considering I spent 2 cold hours pre-race working in the registration area. I could tell that I wasn't pushing myself as I should have been while running when the thought crossed my mind that I was hungry. Clearly if I could think of that, I needed to pick it up a bit. I also spent too much time reading the names on the pink pumpkins placed around the course. Oh well, it felt good to finish a race that I was part of putting together.