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|
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|
What I learned running in my SECOND trimester:
1) Treat yo' self...to 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|
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|
*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!