I went into pregnancy without a doubt in my mind I would run through pregnancy. I’ve run 6 days a week for most of the last 6-7 years, so what would make this any different? If you’ve been following my pregnancy running journey for the last 10 months then you probably already know how it turned out, but I thought I’d recap my entire journey in one place.
First, I will start out by saying that running during pregnancy should be consulted with your Doctor. I spoke with mine at my very first appointment. Each pregnancy and each woman can be different, so what works for one person may not work for the next.
Now that my running through pregnancy journey is done this time around, let’s look at what actually happened.
I first found out I was pregnant the day I was supposed to run 22 miles for Boston Marathon training. Needless to say – that didn’t happen. I honestly surprised myself in how I reacted to finding out the news. While we had been trying, we had taken a step back and not focused on it with a plan of resuming after Boston. I was beyond excited but also extremely nervous.
I thought I’d jump right back out there, but instead I stopped run. Yes, I didn’t run at all during those 3-4 weeks. I was so nervous that I would do something to hurt to baby (even though I know this isn’t true), and it wasn’t until I met with my OBGYN and we did the growth ultrasound that I felt comfortable running again.
I believe that every woman should do what she is comfortable with. Some don’t feel comfortable running at all and some are still racing. It’s your body and you know what is best for it. I forfeited running the Boston Marathon at 7 weeks pregnant because it simply wasn’t something I was comfortable doing.
If you aren’t comfortable running during pregnancy – don’t. Remember, at the end of the day you know your body best so do what you are comfortable with (health permitting).
I started running again after 8 weeks, but it was a slow build up and adjustments were required throughout the time period.
You will see from my tracking log (below) that I started very slowly. I took 3-4 weeks off which isn’t a lot, but I knew that being pregnant meant that I needed to always be a bit more cautious. I wanted my body to return to running again slowly and safely. I started with a run/walk schedule and slowly increased over the course of several weeks. I was very careful to increase the miles slowly. I ran off of time instead of running based on a certain number of miles each day.
At 8 weeks we were getting into summer so I also had to be very aware of the temperature. There are many dangerous repercussions if your body gets overheated during pregnancy (an interesting study) so I had to take it slower if needed, focus heavily on hydration, and often times turn to the treadmill.
The treadmill truly became one of my best friends during pregnancy. I felt safer and more secure running on the treadmill often times than outdoors.
Running started back slowly, in fact I remember my first run I went out to an unpaved trail and ran a 0.30 mile loop alternating every 2 minutes between running and walking. It was a far cry from what I had been training at, but it was what I felt my body needed.
I stuck to the run/walk method for 2-3 weeks and slowly increased my running sections until I was running almost entirely. I still made sure to stop when I needed it. Pregnancy running for me definietly included a lot of stopping and walking breaks, but it never bothered me. I didn’t have to do this for long because I had such a strong running base prior to pregnancy, but it should be adjusted based on your experience level.
I made sure that my miles increased slowly and steadily. I was important to not get too out of control in the beginning.
As a marathon runner it was important to me that I kept some sort of “long” run on Saturday. I started around 6 miles and slowly worked that up as the weeks progressed.
Weeks 16-26 were my highest mileage weeks during pregnancy. I focused on running as best I could and even added back in some small and less intense workouts to help get over the monotony of always having to run slow. These were always done on a treadmill and were much less strenuous than I had been previously doing.
The highest mileage week I ran during pregnancy was 40 miles.
That week was probably pushing it a little too much, but if I felt good sometimes I would let my body go a few extra miles on certain days. I really did try to base it all of how my body was responding and recovering.
You’ll notice that week 26 I hit 11 miles for my long run. That was my longest run during pregnancy and it was also the last week I went into double digits. The 11 miles felt absolutely amazing the day I did it, but my body just did not recover the same afterwards. I quickly realize that this was not the time to be pushing the miles so I told myself that day that I would no longer run double digit miles in one day for the rest of my pregnancy, and I stuck with it.
These were probably some of my best weeks when it came to running. Even though I was getting bigger, I had begun to cut back and I think my body found its “happy” place when it came to running during those 3 weeks.
I still averaged in the mid-upper 30’s each week but it felt comfortable. I kept to my word and didn’t run double digits but still got an 8-9 mile long run during these weeks.
This was also the time that I had to invest in the Maternity Fit Splint. If you are in the market for a support belt, I highly recommend it! It can also be used after pregnancy as you ease your way back into running. Having the extra support from the belt made running easier and less uncomfortable.
Week 30 of pregnancy was when I really started to feel my body struggle more.
I’ve always been one to push myself but I knew that it was time to slow down.
I think recognizing that your body is going through so much more during pregnancy is vital to running during pregnancy. It’s easy to get in the same mindset you once had prior to being pregnant, but it’s a habit that for me had to be broken.
I add more spinning during this time and cut back my miles. I was just happy to get in what I could and of course as my body continued to grow the miles became increasingly more difficult. I utilized a lot of walking through pregnancy but especially during these last 6 weeks
Week 36 was the official week that I had to quit running during pregnancy.
I always knew there could come a time when I’d have to stop, but it was still a bit of a blow when it happened. I still don’t know if I fractured my sacrum or if it was extreme sciatic pain, but regardless I wasn’t about to try to push through the pain and my goal simply was to get my body ready for delivery of our sweet boy.
As hard as it was to stop running before I had originally planned to, I knew I had made the right decision. Always listen to your body even when it means making a hard decision. I know in the end it will make me a stronger runner when I’m at the place to ease myself back into running!
Running while pregnant was an amazing experience for me. I loved sharing those miles with our baby boy (even though he had no idea). It was such a special experience and if I am gifted the chance to do it again later down the road, I absolutely will!
In total I ran a total of 1,019 miles during pregnancy. I hit my goal of 1,000 pregnancy miles thankfully just a few days prior to having to quit running. Those 1,019 miles may not have been the quickest or the most miles I’ve ever run, but they were the best ones hands down.
If you are currently pregnant my biggest piece of advice is simply to enjoy the journey. There are only so many times you get to experience this. Enjoy the incredible journey!
In case you’d like more detail – you can find all of my weekly pregnancy recaps here.