Running during Pregnancy {part 1}

Lately, it’s been really hard to fall back asleep after waking up at night for my bathroom (and usually there’s a snack involved, too) trip. I think this time was a record, where I didn’t fall back asleep until almost 2 hours later. That little anecdote is related to this post because in those sleepless dawn hours, I had the idea to write about running during this pregnancy and break it up into a few different posts. Maybe it’s not the most exciting thing for you to read and that’s okay – feel free to skip along if it’s not your cup of tea! I just feel the need to write it all down especially as it’s happening (because gosh, I forget so many little things later on down the road!) and there’s no better place than here.

A few things before I dive in, one being that I’m not claiming to be an expert on running during pregnancy. This is the first pregnancy where I’ve been able to continue running as I was before getting pregnant. Second, I’m not a doctor. Everything I share about it what has worked for me and what’s been okay for me to do during pregnancy. Always check with your doctor before starting or continuing an exercise regimen – I sure did! Finally, this isn’t groundbreaking stuff I’ll be writing about and without searching online, I know there are thousands of other posts about running during pregnancy. Again, I’m just sharing my personal experience and what has worked for me.

Phew! Now let’s get to the good stuff. In this post, I’ll be covering running before pregnancy, what I did once I found out I was pregnant, and how running looked during my first trimester.

Before Pregnancy
I was running consistently before getting pregnant. By consistently, I don’t necessarily mean I was running an excessive amount of mileage (see these ‘fitness lately‘ posts for more details) but I was consistently running and was comfortable with my routine. This means I had a solid base established and wasn’t going to be starting something new, once I found out I was pregnant. Overall, I ran about 4-5 miles once a week (my “long” run) and 3-4 miles three to four days of the week. One other big thing to note is that all my runs were done with the jogging stroller, with the long runs being the exception. That added extra resistance to my runs but I’ve been doing it for so long now that it’s really second nature to me and I truly don’t notice it until I go running without it. Finally, I was keeping a consistent pace for my runs anywhere between 8:30 to 9:30 minute miles, always pushing myself to go faster and harder with each run.

Finding Out
One of my first thoughts was how glad I was that my running was established and consistent. Don’t get me wrong, there were much more important thoughts happening but in regards to exercise, that was mine. Looking back at it now, I think it was really a validating moment for me as a runner. I’ve been a runner for 8 years now and when I was pregnant with Kaleb, I had that moment too where I thought that I would continue running into my pregnancy and it would be awesome. That didn’t happen, though. MY pregnancy was different and instead of running as I thought of it (traditionally, pounding the pavement) I ended up becoming best friends with the elliptical. This pregnancy, I had no illusions as to whether or not I would be able to continue running. I just knew deep down inside that everything would be okay (the baby wouldn’t fall out, my changing body could handle running, etc.) and after talking with my doctor about it, I felt confident in my decision.

Early Pregnancy
I wrote about it a little bit in this post, but during those first few weeks of my first trimester I had all-day sickness which made me not want to run. But if anything, I’m determined! Even if I knew before and after the run would be the worst part, while I was running (unless I got too hot) it actually helped me feel better. After a while, I actually looked forward to my morning runs and on the days I didn’t run I knew the nausea would be worse so that in itself was motivation to keep lacing up my shoes. The distances of my runs stayed the same, with the exception of one week where I had to take a running break. I’m hoping that barring anything, I’ll be able to continue with the same distances and seeing if adding another mile or two to my longer runs is something feasible. The one thing that I noticed toward the end of my first trimester was my pace was starting to change some. That’s to be expected and I know that if I’m able to continue running up until labor, that it will be much slower at that point. Mentally, that’s probably the hardest part for me because I feel like I should be running more quickly but I know I have to listen to my body. Hydration was super important in those early days, and I would often take two 24 oz. bottles of ice water on my runs. It may seem excessive and normally, I wouldn’t even need that much water for a short run but since it was summertime and I’m pregnant, it was a must. I would say about half of a bottle got dumped on my head, though, to help cool me down when I got too hot and started feeling sick. Physically, the first few weeks (up until about week 10) I felt great and pretty much normal, like I wasn’t even running while pregnant. After about week 11 and until the end of the first trimester, I noticed that it took me a bit longer to warm up and then on some of the hills (we live in a hilly area) I would have to stop and walk for a few seconds to catch my breath. By the end of my first trimester, I was noticing a slightly slower pace than from the first few weeks.

Next time, I’ll talk about how things continued changing as I entered my second trimester and also share some tips I’ve picked up along the way.

Disclaimer: I’m not an expert, just a girl who loves running and has been doing so for many years. Everything I share about running during pregnancy is what has worked for me and what has been okay for me to do during my pregnancy. Always check with your doctor before starting or continuing an exercise regimen.

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