Running during Pregnancy {part 3}

{This post is part of an ongoing series. If you want to catch up, here is Part 1 and Part 2.}

Last time, I left off talking about how running looked during weeks 14-20 of my pregnancy. Today, I’m going to share a few additional tips that I’ve found helpful during this part of pregnancy and some specifics to my running during the past 6 weeks. I can’t believe next week I’ll be officially in my third trimester. Where has the time gone?!

^^View from one of my favorite running routes — gorgeous, right?!

Let’s talk about a few additional tips I’ve picked up along the way these past 6 weeks since my last check-in. Maybe it goes without saying, but everything I covered in my tips from last time still applies now as I’m sure it will up until I’m not running pregnant anymore.

1. Wear a running support belt
I cannot begin to stress how important this belt has been for my running. Sure, it’s not the prettiest thing to be wearing but you can’t see it because you wear it beneath your clothes so that shouldn’t stop you. After spending way too much time reading reviews, I finally decided to go with the Gabrialla Elastic Maternity Support Belt. I’ve been using it about a month and a half now and it has made a huge difference in how I feel during and after a run. It supports my lower back and even helps with my pelvic area as well. More obviously, the belt fits nicely under my baby bump giving it the support it needs (it relieves some pressure on my bladder, too!) and I love that the whole thing is adjustable, so if I’m still running ten weeks from now it’ll still be wide enough to support my belly.

2. Stretching intentionally
Honestly, I’m not that great at intentionally stretching. I know, that’s really bad but sometimes runners forget to stretch. Just when I think I’ve stretched enough, I stretch some more. That’s my mantra these days and on the days I don’t stretch, I feel so much more sore and tight the next day. A lot of times, if I’m running with the stroller, my runs end at a playground or park. All that time my son spends running around playing, I spend it stretching (and watching him, of course) my muscles. I do a lot of lunge and squat type stretching, as well as stretches for my lower back. It really makes a difference, especially now that I’m later on in my pregnancy and feel the aches more easily. Another fun stretching related thing I like doing is my 60 minutes prenatal yoga DVD. I try to get these in on the days I don’t run.

3. Coconut water
This is my favorite form of getting in any extra potassium (although a banana does in a pinch) I need, since it’s low in sugar and hydrates wonderfully all at the same time. I sometimes forget to buy some at the grocery store but have noticed a big difference on the days I drink some coconut water versus just plain water. Also related, during my last pregnancy with our son I remember getting some seriously painful calf muscle cramps (aka “Charlie horses”) at night while I was sleeping or when I would wake up to use the restroom. So far in this pregnancy, I haven’t had any leg cramps and am hoping that the extra potassium I’ve been having is the reason why they’ve been kept at bay.

4. Maternity running/workout clothes
By mid-pregnancy, I was getting to the point where I would not want to go running because I felt so uncomfortable in my clothes. That was my breaking point and though I’m all about using what I have and making it work, there are just some things that don’t work well. I finally got a maternity running top and some running tights (not maternity, but they are still fitting well!) so I’m no longer uncomfortably squeezing into my normal running/workout clothes. We’ve had a milder winter thus far, so when I’ve had to wear shorts or even a tank(!), my regular shorts and this tank from pre-pregnancy are still fitting me. Worse case scenario, I borrow my husband’s Dri Fit race shirts and make do that way. If you’re anything like me, you won’t regret investing some money in proper fitting maternity running/workout clothing — it makes all the difference in the world!

Late Second Trimester
I feel like maybe some of this has already been covered in my ‘fitness lately’ post so bear with me if I’m being a little repetitive. There really haven’t been too many significant changes, from week 20 as far as my running. Sure, I’m a few pounds heavier at this point than I was then but the only thing that seems to be affected is my knee. I’ll spare you the trouble of clicking back to my archives but in 2011, I had an ACL reconstruction on my left knee. Although it’s not painful, these days I am feeling a sore spot under that same knee where I had my surgery. It’s uncomfortable when I press on it and squat down, but it doesn’t hurt while I’m running.

I know something else that might be adding to the knee discomfort is that I’m not doing enough strength training for my quad muscles. Since I’m not running as fast as I normally would, those quads aren’t getting worked as much just from the running so any additional strengthening I do has to be intentional and focused on that muscle group. In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out what exercises (non-gym machine related, since we don’t have those in our community gym) I can do safely that will be effective and maybe, it’ll help my knee some. I know cycling is a good one, but honestly cannot stand the stationary bike!

As for my cardio, I’m feeling pretty good these days. Sure, I’m likely huffing and puffing more than I normally would but there are good reasons for that especially when I’m running with the stroller. One big motivator to continue stroller running is a moms group I’m a part of. We all run with our strollers and some even run with double strollers, all at varying paces and distances. The motivation to keep on running with the stroller for as long as possible during this pregnancy is helped when others around me are doing the same thing. I know my days running outside with the stroller are also going to start getting limited because I don’t feel the need to subject our toddler to temperatures below a certain level. In that case, I will definitely look forward to running without the stroller and feeling “lighter and quicker” while doing so! I’m still able to run between 3-5 miles and my average pace is holding steady around 10:30 minutes per mile.

One thing I was looking forward to was running a race during this pregnancy. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t register ahead of time because I ended up with a cold and in the week and a half leading up to the race (it was on Thanksgiving Day) was trying to get better and definitely not back to running as usual. I think the window of opportunity for running in a race is pretty much coming to a close, as I get further along in my pregnancy. It’s not a big deal to me, but worth writing it here so I don’t forget that it was certainly a feasible concept to run a race during this pregnancy had I not gotten a cold.

Overall, the last 6 weeks have been probably the best I’ve felt with running so far with this pregnancy. I feel like I’m in a good place, with my pace, distances and levels of exertion. Now if I can only manage to not get sick anymore, I think I’ll be in great shape for keeping up with running for a long as I can.

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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