Today I want to focus on a topic that really isn’t discussed very much – pregnancy running. Ok, yes you can find some stuff and you can see people on Instagram but I tried to do a lot of research when I first learned I was pregnant and really came up short, especially when it came to first trimester running.
You see, when we were trying to get pregnant I had this wonderful idea that I would run throughout my entire pregnancy no problem! However, the moment I found out a lot of things changed. I realized quickly that I had a growing life inside me and I was terrified because it was so early. After I made the decision not to run Boston, I ended up taking almost 4 weeks off from running completely. Why? I was scared. I knew that if something happened, even though it wouldn’t be running’s fault, I would blame myself and I was too nervous.
The time off from running was actually really great for me. I was able to relax, really enjoy the period of learning we were pregnant, and get some much needed sleep because my body was tired! However, just like with any time off I started to get the itch to run again about 3 weeks in. I missed it but still was scared and frustrated that no matter how much research I didn’t really read anything that helped.
My wonderful friend Meridith sent me the book “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” after I told her I was pregnant. If you haven’t before, check out her blog! She has been such a great resource for me during the early parts of my pregnancy and is a new mama herself!
This book came at the perfect time and was filled with lots of information about how exercising can be good for you and your baby! I plan to do a full review on it in the future, but if you are someone who is struggling and looking for good information I highly recommend it! I’m still reading it because it highlights running even postpartum which I haven’t yet got to.
When I first started running again I treated it might like I was coming back from an injury. I did a lot of run/walk intervals, slowly increased my time/mileage, and finally got to stage I felt was sustainable. I am no expert, as I still have quite a ways to go in this pregnancy but here are a few things I have already learned about running in pregnancy; specifically in the first trimester.
Leave Expectations at the Door
It is best to approach running while pregnant with zero expectations. I figured since I was still early on in my pregnancy that I would be around the same pace, or close, to where I was when I first got pregnant (ha!). My pace has slowed dramatically, and when I go much faster my heart rate goes through the roof.
I quickly learned that I needed to be much more patient went myself and just do what I can.
Enter Each Day without Expectations
If you have been reading the blog for a while, you will know that I love to have a plan. I drive my husband crazy because I want to plan everything out. However; when it has come to running and pregnancy I have tried to approach each day with a very open mind.
The truth is running is always hard, but from my experience running while pregnant is even harder. It feels almost as if my body has been taken over and I’m not even sure what to expect anymore. Each morning when I get up to run I have a rough estimate on what I want to do, but really don’t decide until I am running. I try to get a better feel for how my body is responding. If I’m too tired, I’ll cut it short or cross train. If my heart rate is way too high, I will slow it down. If it’s too hot, I will run on the treadmill.
A good example of this was last Wednesday morning for me. Month end at work had been exhausting and I was there for 12 hours. Needless to say when I woke up on Wednesday I felt awful. I knew that pushing myself to run on the treadmill wasn’t smart, so instead I hopped on the spin bike for some less intense cardio.
It can also go the other way too! Tuesday morning I woke up thinking I would cut my running back to 40 minutes or so, but for the first time I had more energy. As the run progressed I decided to take full advantage and ran to my max week running time right now of 50 minutes.
Listen to your body, adjust when you need to, and just enjoy it!
Utilize Cross Training
Shortly after I got pregnant, I texted a friend and asked her what piece of cross training equipment she got the most use out of during her pregnancy. The two she mentioned were here spin bike and stair stepper.
I did some research and the best equipment within our budget with the spin bike, plus it was the one that I had the most experience with. I knew that running every day while pregnant might not be possible so I wanted another option. We ended up purchasing this spin bike and I’ve loved it!
One thing to keep in mind is that you will not be able to use the spin bike after you give birth for a while.
Spinning (or any form of cross training) has been really great to have at our house. Our gym doesn’t open early enough for me so when I’m having a bad day, the spin bike is a great way for me to get cardio in without the force that running puts on your body.
Be Patient with Yourself
As runners I think we are often too hard on ourselves. We compared ourselves to social media and think if they can do it so can we. When I first got pregnant I started following a few running mamas on Instagram, but immediately found myself falling in that trap.
I couldn’t understand how a few of them were doing 14+ mile runs when I felt so awful. Everyone is different just like every pregnancy is different. You want to be comfortable with what you are doing, while still enjoying it.
To some (and even to me before pregnancy) running 5 miles a day was nothing. However; right now it is the perfect amount where I feel comfortable and know that my body can handle it. My goal through pregnancy is simply to maintain a base. I run longer on the weekend if I feel up to it, but overall I just focus no doing what I can.
Be patient with yourself and listen to your body. If you find that running is too hard for you during pregnancy, look for something else that you can enjoy! Your body is growing a baby! Every time I think about that I smile and am just happy that I’m able to do what I am doing.
Pace, Temperature, and Hydration
There are three main things I focus on when running right now. I make sure that I keep my pace conversational; meaning that if someone came up next me I would be able to carry on a conversation with them without having trouble. If I find that I can’t do this or my heart beat is too quick I stop and recover before continuing. Do not be ashamed of stopping during your runs.
As the summer approaches, I am paying even closer attention to my body temperature. It is important that you not let your body temperature get too high, especially during early pregnancy. I either try to leave earlier in the morning for my runs, or I use the treadmill if it is too hot already. Last Sunday I started outside but quickly realized it was smarter to run indoors.
Finally, it is especially important to keep your body hydrated. This has always been important to me as a runner, but something I’ve struggled with. I always take water with me on my runs or have it at the treadmill with me. I drink whenever I feel like it and make sure to drink the full bottle by the time my run is done.
I know at this point this post is getting a little long, so I’ll cut it here. Remember, when it comes to running during pregnancy we are all different. It is important to be aware of your body and listen to it. Enjoy your running, and if you don’t find something you do enjoy!
Running will always be there for your but these 9 months will go by in a flash!