Well, here we are in the 3rd trimester and I’m still enjoying running, albeit “light running.” I’ve certainly had to make plenty of adjustments to my running in many ways, but it’s been my sanity release to still have this. For all you mamma’s to be out there, or women who will someday be mamma’s to be, and you’re wondering about running, hopefully this post can help.
I want to reiterate that I am not running excessively or pushing myself beyond my limits. If anything, pregnancy has certainly been a lesson in listening to my body (physically, mentally and emotionally). And I realize not every woman will even want to run throughout pregnancy and I get that. But, hopefully you can relate to having something you enjoy – whether it’s a form of exercise or just walking. Some outlet that you can turn to. And more likely than not, things will have to be adjusted as you progress in your pregnancy. So, hopefully there are some similarities there.
Pregnancy Running Changes
First of all, knowing the changes that pregnancy brings is important. If you remember, feeling short of breath was one of the early signs I had that I was pregnant. This was before I was having positive pregnancy tests, but my body was changing. Running had suddenly gotten harder.
Aside from that, there are many other changes that happen during pregnancy.
Weight gain –> Shifting center of gravity
Connective tissue becomes looser
Stride and posture changes –> Running form likely changes (This can lead to injuries so be careful)
Total blood volume increases
and much more.
Some of these may affect certain women more than others.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to listen to my body. Setting pre-determined running or workout goals in my head and then going and doing them are now two different things. I don’t “push through” the fatigue to get that 4 miler in, and if I’m just not feeling it, I take another rest day. I’ve taken more rest days than I have in a long time. I’m finding a good balance between movement and resting, and still at the point where I enjoy and look forward to my running time.
Here are some of the conclusions I’ve come to as far as tips for running in the 3rd trimester:
Find running routes and loops with easy access to a bathroom
Sometimes, that means just running loops around our neighborhood so I can stop and pee. And as much as I hate running on the treadmill, it definitely has its perks for having a bathroom near by. The time I can hold my bladder after I start running is getting shorter and shorter. I can barely go over 20 minutes at this point, so having a safe place to urinate or a bathroom near by is necessary!
Don’t have expectations for pace and intensity
This sounds obvious, but it’s still worth saying. Your body when pregnant is functioning at a totally different capacity than when it’s not pregnant. It is prioritizing different systems, and relaying things to the baby. Therefore, you can just not expect to operate on the same level. The extra weight, shortness of breath, and stride change will likely contribute to your decreased pace. Coupled with the fact that you fatigue earlier because blood is being filtered to the little one makes it difficult to maintain high intensities.
I can’t imagine training for Boston right now. I’m so glad I made the decision not to, because I really think marathon training while pregnant would be terrible. I know some women do it (and props to YOU who have/are doing it), but man, it would be so much time and discomfort. I’m glad I can say I’m really enjoying most aspects of being pregnant, and I think marathon training would certainly be taking over or tainting that.
Shortness of Breath
I’ve always had good aerobic capacity and I feel that I was in somewhat good shape before pregnancy. But, the shortness of breath is what alerted me at first. I think I’ve gotten used to it now because I don’t seem to notice or focus on it too much. Part of that, I think, is that I’m running slower anyway. But, be aware of this! Even when lifting weights, I can hear and feel myself breathing heavier. Also, carry extra water if you need it.
Always take your phone
This is a safety measure. You’re at a higher risk being pregnant, and if something were to happen where you needed help immediately, you’d want to be able to get some. Earlier in my pregnancy (I think it was 2-3 months), I took Tater out on a run. I ran from the house on a local greenway but just didn’t have the energy to make it back home after getting a mile and a half out. So, I called Ed and he came and picked me up. Fortunately, nothing more desperate or serious has happened, but I caution all women to run with their phones just in case.
There will be pain
Runners are tough, we are familiar with pain and grit. Like the last few minutes of a 5k, or pushing that final sprint of a half marathon. The pain fuels us.
I’ve experienced a different type of pain with pregnancy, though. The soles of my feet hurt. This is honestly probably why I can’t run too far (this, and the peeing). Otherwise, I feel pretty good when running when taking it slow and easy. I’m not sure if this is due to my sneakers or the extra weight, but the bottom of my feet tend to take a beating sometimes.
To deal with this, I’ve started running on dirt paths when I can. Not trails necessarily, because there are so many sticks and roots that I could trip on, but just softer surfaces. Just something to be aware of if you plan on running during pregnancy!
I’ve also experienced some back pain, as I’ve written about recently. I’ve found some relief with heating pads and hot baths, but I don’t feel the pain when I’m running. Normally, it’s when I’m sitting for too long, which is another sign to get up and move.
Walk/Runs is totally cool
I know for some women, this is like a total gasp and shot to the pride. But, like I’ve mentioned earlier, you can’t expect your body to perform the same, even if you were in great shape pre-pregnancy. Stopping to walk for minutes at a time does not mean you are out of shape or “weak.” Instead, it means you are listening to the baby and your body. Your body is still appreciating the movement you are giving it. Remember your movement doesn’t have to be at 99% capacity and intensity for it to be beneficial.
I’m heading into 32 weeks. I don’t know how long I’ll continue to run during pregnancy, but will listen to my body to see. Even if it’s only 1-2 times a week, I’m thankful that pregnancy has further developed the relationship between my mind and body. It has enhanced the connection to be able to listen to myself more. I’m also thankful that I’m able to move in a way that is enjoyable.
Momma runners/exercisers – how long into your pregnancy did you continue running/exercising?
Non-mommas – what’s your favorite form of movement currently?