Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Running for two.

I'm by no means a professional runner. I mean, I'm not even a quick runner. I feel all weirdly embarrassed calling myself a "runner" at all. Perhaps let's just call me "a person who sometimes runs...slowly". I love all different types of work outs, and I know running isn't even necessarily the best bang for your workout buck, but running does something special for my mental health as well as my physical health. Running definitely challenges me, and being able to stand up to that challenge makes me feel so empowered - it makes me feel like my body is strong and capable of anything. So when we began our pregnancy, I knew that as long as the baby and I were both healthy and complication-free, I wanted to run throughout my pregnancy, as a way to help prepare myself mentally and physically for the challenge that trying for a natural birth would present.

Having pretty much no earthly idea how my body would tolerate growing another person but knowing I needed more of a plan than just, "Hey, I'll run!",  I set some modest running goals at the start of our pregnancy (knowing that they might change completely based on our health status). I wanted to:

1) Run 2-3 times per week for more than 20 minutes per run.
2) Run a 5k at the beginning of the second trimester.
3) Run a 5k at the beginning of the third trimester.
4) Run until I make it to 30 weeks.


Running at 11 weeks // 13 weeks 
Because we experienced an early miscarriage months before, I'll admit to being a bit freaked out about the idea of running (jumping, jiggling, moving, eating, know) during our first trimester. But I did my research thoroughly and felt reassured that there was no evidence whatsoever that running would cause a miscarriage. However, I did decide to wait until after our baby's heartbeat had been detected before I went for my first pregnant run. We saw a big, beautiful heartbeat at our 6 week appointment...and then I promptly sunk into miserable, head-in-the-toilet morning sickness. I had a LOT of trouble keeping food down (and finding an appetite) for the next 3 weeks. I did spend 30 minutes on the elliptical each day (and honestly, no matter how gross I felt, those 30 minutes always gave me some relief and made me feel better, at least for a bit), but I didn't run again until we hit the 9 week mark. I still had some lingering morning sickness up until about week 17-18, but I always felt wonderful while I was running...even if I would occasionally return home after an awesome run and find myself surprise-vomiting into the toilet.

The most important tips I have for running in your FIRST trimester (and throughout your pregnancy):

1) Don't increase your mileage or intensity. I wasn't in my best shape starting this pregnancy. I had been running some, but no more than 3-4 miles at a time. So, that's what my max distance was while pregnant. I found that my pace didn't slow down much during the first trimester, but I was running at what felt like a comfortable speed, definitely not trying to push myself.
2) Stay hydrated. This is a tip I read often during my pregnant running research, and I definitely took it seriously. I carried a 24 oz water bottle with me during every run and usually drank most of it. In the first trimester it helped with nausea and later on, staying hydrated really helps with muscle cramps. I even tried wearing a CamelBak, but it sloshed too much for my taste - the straw on my water bottle suited me just fine.
3) Stay cool. Another super important tip - don't overheat that baby! I typically ran in the morning (and I'm also fortunate to be pregnant from fall-spring, in an area with amazingly temperate weather) and dressed in layers so I could stay comfy and cool.


Santa Monica Christmas 5k at 14 weeks // Running at 20 weeks
Literally everyone and their mom will tell you that your second trimester is the magical, feel-great portion of your pregnancy. And it sort of is. At week 14 I checked off a pregnancy goal by running a Christmas 5k. It was an interesting experience - I felt good, and it was hard not to push myself.

What I learned running in my SECOND trimester:

1) Treat yo' a belly band. My belly grew pretty quickly (and pretty large, if I do say so myself). At 20 weeks, I started to get cramping from my expanding stomach tugging on my ligaments and muscles while I was running. I bought a belly band to support the weight of my belly and it has been an awesome help. Just like I wouldn't run without a sports bra (awkward), I don't run without my belly bra. I got this one from Amazon and I've been really happy with it.
2) Your center of gravity will change. At about 23 weeks pregnant, I was out for a run in our neighborhood and feeling great. Maybe even feeling invincible, I was feeling so great. Out of no where, I tripped on an uneven spot in the sidewalk and I fell flat on my front - right on my knees, elbows and belly. I was completely dumbfounded - literally open-mouthed in shock as I stood up. I had no pain or problems (aside from some very scraped up knees and arms), but I called my doctor (after I called Ryan in a mild panic) and went to the labor and delivery floor at the hospital just to be sure everything was okay (and it was). Post-fall, Ryan and I had a discussion about whether or not I should continue running. And even though the fall was a really terrifying situation to be in, we agreed that the fall was a fluke and as long as I felt like I could run carefully and safely, I would keep it up. For me, I felt like the risk of falling wasn't really any greater running than my risk walking our dogs or carrying laundry down the stairs. And the mental, physical and emotional boosts I get from running are something I feel have been a serious benefit to me and our baby throughout our pregnancy and to prepare me for labor and delivery.
3) Have a support system. Building off of my last point, I'm wildly grateful for how supportive Ryan has been of my pregnant running. It can be so stressful and so confusing making choices when they involve not just your health, but your baby's health (Should I paint the nursery? Can I eat seafood? Is running safe?). I felt confident in my choices for our baby and myself, but it's been SO invaluable having Ryan supporting me along the way.


Long Beach 5k at 27 weeks 
The first weekend of our third trimester, I checked off another major running goal for my pregnancy - running another 5K. I chose a super laid-back, small race so I knew I wouldn't feel pressured to push myself too much and my bulk and I wouldn't be tripping over thousands of other runners. I had a GREAT race (I even passed some people, which of course felt completely awesome) and it was a really empowering way to kick off the third trimester.

A few weeks later, I ran through the 30 week mark and checked off my final official goal! Things were still feeling really comfortable, so I decided to keep up with running for as long as I could up until our due date.

My best advice for running in the THIRD trimester:

1) Get yourself some compression socks! Early in the third trimester, my calves and feet started cramping up SO badly during my runs. I did a bit of research and ended up ordering this pair of running compression socks. With a giant belly, it's not exactly easy to bend over and yank them onto your feet, but I found that they really helped keep the leg cramps at bay. And as a bonus, my neon pink legs can now be seen from outer space and no one's going to accidentally run me over with their car.
2) Take walk breaks. At week 30 I started incorporating walking breaks into each of my runs - 1 minute of walking after every 6 minutes of running. It may not sound like much, but those little walk breaks were exactly what I needed to catch a little breath and let my aching legs rest a bit so I could keep on running.
3) Prepare to slow down...way down. Throughout the first two trimesters, my pace didn't slow too much - I wasn't pushing hard, but the pace that felt comfortable wasn't a whole lot slower than my normal pace. However, especially toward the end of the third trimester, things have slowed WAY down - sometimes I feel like I'm moving through Jell-O. But as long as I'm moving, it definitely counts.
4) Your body is going to feel awfully strange. Each week in the third trimester has brought peculiar new aches and sensations. It's truly like I'm running with a different body every single day. My legs ache more than I anticipated (probably from the extra weight), my bladder has become a baby trampoline as our little guy descends into my pelvis and Braxton Hicks contractions have increased in the last few weeks especially when I'm exercising. But, running or not, discomfort is a pretty standard symptom of late pregnancy. I've maintained that as long as I listen to my body and it's discomfort, not pain, running is still a safe option. Plus, a good run feels surprisingly amazing on my stiff and achy hips - go figure!

Running at 29 weeks // 35 weeks // 37 weeks 
I'm currently at 38 weeks and both proud (and seriously surprised) that I'm still running twice per week for 30 minutes. Some runs feel great, some are pretty difficult and all runs earn me peculiar side glances from passersby. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be able to keep running until delivery, but I'm happy to listen to my body first and foremost and I'm taking things one run at a time.

*Also, I have absolutely no medical expertise - the above is simply my personal experience as an amateur pregnant runner. Definitely ask your doctor before pursuing your own pregnant running routine!


  1. Wow that's awesome that you've been running your whole pregnancy! Way to go meeting all your goals :) can't wait to see pictures of your sweet little babe soon!

    1. Thanks, Brittany! :) Ugh, I can't wait until this little guy decides to grace us with his presence! Once he does, there will be more photos than necessary ;)

  2. Loving the your Christmas run attire! Not pregnant and don't plan to be anytime soon (gotta get me a husband first) but I've always loved the idea of continuing to run even when pregnant. That's awesome that you are still going and you look great!


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