Monday, February 18, 2013

Guest Post: Running While Pregnant

One of the things I'm hoping to do while I'm on my "blog break," is spend more time taking care of myself and exercising.  I'm the QUEEN of making excuses, so Amanda's post was a great inspiration to me.  I'm not pregnant (promise), but sometimes I talk myself out of training for the half marathon I vowed to do before 30 because it seems like there is no way I can "fit it in" with another baby some day soonish too.  Amanda just totally ruined that excuse!  Besides, if she can run at nine months pregnant, I'm sure I can handle it when I'm not with child. ;) Enjoy!

Why I'm Breaking

David, my 18-month old son, threw a tantrum during lunch, so I picked him up from his high chair and put him straight in his crib.

Now he's sleeping and I'm sitting here starving, but too tired to get up and fix myself lunch. Moments like this are the reason I don't keep potato chips in my house.


Two days ago, a good friend asked if I'd want to go for a slow, short run this afternoon. It sounded like a great idea, so I said yes. But as the week went on, it started to wear on me. It's Friday and I've already run three times (11 miles) this week, and taken two long walks. Eleven miles isn't much. Just 13 weeks ago I ran a race longer than my total weekly mileage.

But I'm 23 weeks pregnant, and for me, right now, it's a lot. I'm tired.

It was supposed to rain all day, so I thought maybe I could use that as an excuse, but after a rainy morning, it's sunny and actually turning into a beautiful day.

When I think about running, about the process of pulling spandex running pants over my belly, finding socks, tying my shoes, changing David's diaper, putting his jacket on, gathering a snack and drink for him, both of us walking out the door and down the stairs at 18-month old pace, lifting our jogging stroller out of our trunk, chasing David down the sidewalk and strapping him into the stroller. Well, when I think about all of that I feel like I've already been for a run.

This sounds so encouraging, doesn't it? And are you impressed in my fitness and good health?

And did you know that your abdominal muscles separate when you're pregnant? Maybe that seems like a no-brainer, but did you know you can actually feel them separating? I didn't really feel it much during my first pregnancy, but during this pregnancy I feel it, I feel it all the time. And today, my abdominal muscles are separating. I feel it when I bend, when I stand up, when I lift David, kicking and screaming from his high chair and lower him into his crib.

I am tired, and my abdominal muscles are separating, but I'll probably go for a run today. I'll probably go for a run today because if I don't run today, I might not run tomorrow. And if I don't run tomorrow, I might not run all week, or next week, or the week after that.

Every day I get a few more excuses, because every day I get a little more pregnant. But even though I'm tired, I want to run as long as possible, so I'm going to go running today.

When you're pregnant and you go for a run, people who happen to see you give you one of two looks:
  1. Impressed 
  2. Worried 
That's what my running partners tell me anyway. When you're pregnant and out for a run you're too busy concentrating on not peeing on yourself to notice anything else.

I ran through my first pregnancy until I was 37 weeks pregnant, at which point I fell head-first into a pile of Chick-fil-A and Frappuccinos. These days I'm running 3-4 miles about 4 times a week with the occasional 6-mile long run. Running was a great experience the first time around, but this time I'm still in the midst of it and still learning, taking it a day at a time.

I've been a runner for a very long time, since I was 14 years old, so it didn't make sense to me to stop running during pregnancy. Even though I love exercise, and sweating, and pushing myself I want to be clear about one thing: running when you're pregnant is hard. Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

Now I'm pregnant and pushing my almost-30-pound son in a jogging stroller and guess what? It's even harder.

I hope that's encouraging. I'm the kind of runner that isn't motivated by the sculpted Spandex goddesses. Instead, I'm motivated by knowing that even the people at the front of the pack are struggling, panting, and occasionally want to quit.

If you feel like me while you're exercising, like you're pulling a wagon through quicksand, it's ok. You're not the only one; I feel that way, too. Plus, I have to pee.

Even though running is hard, during pregnancy I actually feel the most like myself while I'm running. I have pretty easy pregnancies, but even the easiest pregnancy is tiring, uncomfortable, and long. My runs are the only time during pregnancy that I feel in control, healthy and strong. I never feel that way while eating Cadbury eggs on the couch watching The Bachelor.

When I'm pregnant I run for the same reason I run when I'm not pregnant: it's good for me, and it makes me feel good. There are lots of other benefits, too. It helps with weight control (another thing that helps with weight control: going easy on the Chick-fil-A and Frappuccinos...), it helps you sleep better, it helps you maintain strength for labor and recovery.

If you're a runner, or pregnant, or thinking about getting pregnant, or wondering about that pregnant girl you always see on the treadmill at they gym, here are some things you might not know about running for two:
  1. Before you start, talk to your doctor. Once you get an ok from your doctor, educate yourself about pregnancy and running, and tune into your body. Remember: this is a great time to continue running, not start running. It is definitely a great time to be active and healthy, whether it's running or swimming or walking.
  2. Realign your goals. When I'm not pregnant I run to stay fit, get fast, run races, and maintain my weight. When I am pregnant the only priority is the health of my baby (even if you are training for a race). I ran until running became uncomfortable and stopped feeling good. Run for your baby, not to be hardcore, to prove something to yourself or impress your mother in law. I ran until 37 weeks the first time, but I might only make it to 25 weeks this time. That'd be ok, too.
  3. Be prepared to make a few pitstops. I have to pee every step of every run. Even if I pee the moment before I leave, I'll have to go again by the time I make it to the end of the block. Even if I duck into an alley to relieve myself, I'll have to pee again moments later.
  4. You don't really need to spend lots of money on maternity running clothes. I run in my shirts until they start to stretch or ride up, and do the same with shorts until my thighs start getting pregnant and I can't put them on either. I like full-panel maternity, so I have a pair of maternity running shorts that I wear in the final months. (This might not be true if all your workout clothes are super-cute and fitted. I run in old t-shirts from high school.)
  5. ...But you might need to upgrade your shoes. Especially in the later months, your knees and hips will feel the extra weight you're carrying. Give them a break with some nice new shoes.
  6. Get a running partner. I owe almost every finish line to a great training partner. My most recent half marathon was great because of one who kept me on a training plan, and I'm consistently running now because of one who texts me almost every day and asks if I want to walk or run. A running/exercise friend will keep you consistent, motivated, and moving.
  7. Prepare to slow down. A few years ago, Runners' World did an article with Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliffe, two world-class runners, and they talked about their pregnancies. They lamented running slow 7:10 miles and talked about tossing medicine balls around the gym. That's great for them, but a more "normal" runner will have to slow down, take walk breaks, and more rest days. 
My second pregnancy started off with a running bang. I ran my fastest half marathon ever when I was 10 weeks pregnant (and after I finished, I went home, took a 30-minute shower, collapsed on the couch and then ate five enchiladas).


When I was in the throes of both my first trimester, and training for the race, I remember telling my husband that I couldn't wait for the race to be over so I could just focus on being pregnant. I wouldn't have to worry about what I ate before a long run, or getting enough sleep, or staying hydrated.

The weird thing is, even though the race was three months ago, all those things still matter, because the same things that keep you healthy for running keep you healthy in general.

Which is just another reason to get out there and move, even when I might not feel like it.

www.thekriegers.org

15 comments:

  1. Amanda, I am definitely not pregnant, but this speaks to me at a perfect time! I ran a 5k Friday after not running for three weeks, and I immediately vowed to get back in to running. now, on Monday, my motivation was waning, but you're kicking it back into gear. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post. I also ran throughout my pregnancy...I may have gone a light jog on my due date to entice my little one to make her arrival. Your tips are spot on. I did get many stares and some unsolicited "advise" from people on the street and gym... As long as the doctors give you the OK and listen to your body and do what feels best for you running can be a great way to exercise!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I wish people would trust the doctors and educate themselves on this before giving you stares and comments! :(

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    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. eh, it's not too bad. i don't mind shocking people every now and then :)

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  4. Holy words, Ammy, I wish you luck Amanda, great blog, great inspiration.
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  6. There is a local runner who pushes a double jogger with his kids during road races. I keep telling myself that if I train harder between runs that one day I will beat him but I'm guessing that his cross training pushing and extra 30 lbs puts him way out of my league. When I see pregnant runners it reminds me that my excuses for missing a run are really lame. Keep up the good work!

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