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Let’s Pee Honest: The Truth About the Post-Baby Return to Running

“I was thinking of you the other day as I was peeing my pants…”

This was my opening email line to a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while. Clever, ain’t it? At least I know how to grab someone’s attention from the get-go!

The reason for this lead-in was simple… we had commiserated that after having our first kiddos, we each suffered bladder leaks, particularly while running. It annoyed us both so much that we had eventually stopped running altogether.

Aside from the inconvenience & embarrassment of incontinence, I also had some leftover injuries from running the NYC Marathon in 2016 too. My knees, my tendonitis, my metatarsals… it felt like even my issues had issues! And thus, I had hung up my running shoes and gotten “out of the groove” of being a race participant in NYC…. something that had brought me SO MUCH joy for so long.

Jamie Hess NYC Marathon
Running the 2016 NYC Marathon was one of the highlights of my life

When I was pregnant with Asher, I made a decision: part of my “get back in shape” plan would be to commit to the Hamptons Half Marathon in September. I was due to deliver in April, so I knew that I could start training in June and have plenty of time to get ready… and I’m always best when I have a goal.

Running was no longer just about hitting the pavement a few times a week… coming back after an absence from the sport, I knew I had to figure out a few things:

1. What is my training plan (mileage, cadence, supplemental work, etc)

2. What new technology has come out since I left the running game?

3. What is my nutrition & hydration plan?

4. How was I going to deal with this pesky peeing problem??!!

Ok, so let’s start there…

The last time I ran a half marathon, I looked over at George halfway through and said “I’m literally peeing in my pants right now... and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Luckily I said it through laughter, because – really, what else can you do?

This time around, the stars aligned, as I was approached by a company that recently launched called INNOVO®.

INNOVO is a non-invasive, FDA-cleared solution that treats the root cause of stress urinary incontinence. You receive a pair of shorts that you wear for 30 minutes a day a five days a week for 12 weeks. The shorts deliver pain-free muscle stimulations to effectively strengthen your weakened pelvic floor muscles.

With every gentle pulse, you feel your pelvic floor muscles lifting and releasing — strengthening and rebuilding the muscles and helping you regain bladder control one session at a time, until one day – BOOM – you can hold your pee in again!

As someone who required pelvic floor physical therapy after baby # 1 and was generally too lazy to do kegels, this was intriguing to me.

I got a prescription from my doctor, then they sent me the shorts and I gave them a whirl.

Here’s how they work:

1. Turn them inside out and spray each of the electrode panels 3-4 times with the little spritzer bottle that came in the starter kit Then reverse them right side out.

2. Hook them into the controller (two simple color-coded wires)

3. Slip them on and use the controller to start your session, turning up the intensity slowly as you become more comfortable with the sensation.

4. Allow them to work their magic over 12 weeks!

I was skeptical at first… could this really be an answer? I figured, “I’ve got nothing to lose.” So I gave them a shot.

I used them over the course of the summer, and I’m pleased to report that by the time the race came around, I crossed the finish line SANS DRIBBLES!! Usually the last three miles, I’m plagued by the mental anguish caused by bladder leaks…. “Ugh, this is uncomfortable, I wish I could stop it from happening, does anyone notice,” etc. It used to really mess with my pace. This time I was able to cruise over the finish line dry…. well, except for the sweat everywhere else. But “down there” was a-ok, and that was great news!