Running during Pregnancy {part 2}

{This post is part of an ongoing series. If you want to catch up, Part 1 can be found here.}

Last time, I left off talking about how running looked at the end of my first trimester. Today, I’m going to share a few tips that I’ve found helpful and how running has looked from the beginning to the middle of my second trimester. That will catch things up to the present!

Also, I should probably stop trying to squeeze myself into my pre-pregnancy running clothes. I’m pretty sure no one wants to see that. Just focus on the pretty leaves and grass.

Tips for Running during the First 20 Weeks

1. Always carry extra water
This is easier to do when I’m running with the stroller because I can use both cup holders (and bottom basket, if need be) to hold bottles. Also, treadmill runs fall in the easy to carry water category obviously. I mentioned it in the last post, but I always take two 24 oz. (or one 24 oz. and one 18 oz.) water bottles with me, no matter the distance I’m running. I stay within a 2-3 mile radius from home when running outside, but I still don’t want to run out of water especially on a hot day. Plus, sometimes I have to share my water with a thirsty toddler.

2. Lace up shoes extra snug
This one seems obvious but I can’t tell you how much of a difference it really makes to have snug fitting running shoes. One day, I was running along but my feet and ankles felt a little off. I know at this point it’s not because of extra weight I’ve put on but then I had an “aha!” moment and sure enough, my laces were pretty loose around the tops of my feet. After readjusting them and making them tighter, my feet and ankles got instant relief! Another one that falls in this category is that if you’re running with a stroller, make sure the tires are properly inflated. Just a few days ago, I was running along and felt like the stroller was AWFULLY heavy. Like, heavier than usual. So I stopped real quick and checked the tires. They were super soft and basically flat, even though from just looking at them you could never tell. After pumping them up to normal levels again, it was so much easier and even felt lighter! Lesson learned. Tighten up those shoe laces AND keep those stroller tires pumped up.

3. Take walk breaks if needed
Mentally, this one is hard for me and I imagine it will continue to be until I’m done being pregnant. I’m not a walker when I’m out running. It just about kills me to stop and walk, so I’m having to constantly assess whether or not I need to take a quick walk break. Whether it’s 30 seconds or a few minutes, walk breaks are good to slow down the heart rate and catch a breather. After all, it’s not like this is a competition to see how fast the pregnant lady can run. (That’s me talking to myself, by the way.)

4. Focus on breathing
Another tip that seems obvious, but during pregnancy it’s even more important to pay attention to your breathing while you run. I didn’t notice this being a big deal earlier on but now it’s becoming more important, as my body continues pumping even more blood and carrying extra weight. I focus on taking on deeper breath in and two-three short breaths out, while I’m running. That’s it, just focusing on not robbing myself of oxygen intake because it’s a lot easier to exhale while running than to inhale. I also remind myself that I’m breathing for my baby so that visual helps especially when I start forgetting to take good breaths.

5. Listen to your body
Finally, listening to your body is the undercurrent to everything I’ve listed here. It is so, so important that you know that while some aches and pains are totally normal and okay, there can be times where you need to just trust your instinct and stop if necessary. Once or twice, I’ve definitely had that instinct reaction and stopped my run to walk for a few minutes before resuming or even just called it a day. You are no less of a runner because you listen to what your body is saying, pregnant or not.

And now a little bit about my experiences from the last few weeks.

Early Second Trimester
The first few weeks of my second trimester (so, weeks 14-16ish) were what I now refer to as the “wake up call” weeks. What I mean by that is that it was around that point where I started noticing and realizing that my pace was slowing down. At this point, I was starting to have better days from my nausea although it didn’t fully go away until a few weeks later. The relief from the nausea gave me a false sense of confidence and I started to try to run faster again. That only worked a few times before I realized (and listened to my body) that it wasn’t the smartest move. Like I’ve said before, mentally that’s hard for me. Not that I’ve ever been a super fast runner but I do like to push myself and always try to run faster than before. Pregnancy isn’t a time to push yourself to set new personal records. After all this mental pep talk (and encouragement from my husband) I got to a place where I was okay with slowing down. Physically, my legs felt pretty good and up until that point, I hardly had any weight gain so there were no added stresses to my body. It was also starting to become a bit more difficult to push the stroller but right around that time was when I started running on the treadmill due to my allergies. At that point, I forgot about pushing the extra 50+ pounds and happily ran on the treadmill.

Middle Second Trimester
From weeks 17 until now at almost 20 weeks is what I refer to as the “new expectations” weeks. Since I’m slightly nuts about keeping track of all my runs, I took an overall look at where I was as far as distance and pace. You might be wondering why in the world a pregnant runner is even concerned about her pace. The answer is: I’m not. It’s just the simple fact that I’ve always liked knowing how my running looks like, by seeing the numbers. That’s all. It’s not for everyone (my husband, who was a cross country runner never, ever runs with a watch) and that’s totally okay.

My distances haven’t changed yet but as I’ve already said, my pace sure has. It’s just a new set of expectations that I’m coming to terms with (remember? it’s my constant mental struggle!) so now I’m learning to be okay with running an 11-12 minute mile especially when warming up that first mile or so. Speaking of warming up, that’s something else that’s changed too. I never really thought about it before being pregnant but I do recall how quickly I could just take off into a run. Now, it takes me a good mile before I start feeling at ease and warmed up enough to start running. That first mile typically takes around 11-12 minutes and sets me up to feel well enough to then dial down my pace to about 10 minutes per mile afterward. A much easier way to think about it is for me to ask myself, “Am I able to hold a conversation right now at this pace?” and then go from there. Right now, that typically looks like a 10 minute mile but I know it’ll change as I progress in my pregnancy.

It’s definitely a far cry from my pre-pregnancy and post-first baby running pace but then I remember, I’m not supposed to be comparing myself now to then. My husband likes to remind me of that fact, after I get home from a run saying that I felt “so slow” and gracefully tells me that I should be happy I’m able to run at all. Yes, I am grateful and need a reminder of that fact.

Now I’m all caught up with how running is going so far during this pregnancy. Next time I post about this topic, I’ll cover the latter part of my second trimester (weeks 21-26) and anything else that might come up between now and then.

Happy running (or exercising)!

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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