running through pregnancy

As some of you might recall, I registered for the GO! St. Louis Half Marathon back in January, developed some personal goals, and created a plan to help me reach those goals.  At the time, Matt + I were trying to get pregnant, but I figured it might take us a few months before being successful (wrong) and I figured if I did get pregnant quickly (which I did), I would only be in the 1st trimester and could probably still be able to run the half.

Well, yesterday the Half came + went, and while I did cross the finish line with my mother-in-law, I did not run the race.  It was pretty disappointing to be at the race and not running it (the first time I have ever missed a race I was scheduled to run), but in the long run, I am so happy I decided not to run it.  With temperatures in the 60s at the race start and climbing into the upper 80s by the time 9 o’clock rolled around, several people were treated for heat-related illness and a handful were sent to the hospital.  Even if I had decided to run the half, I don’t think I would’ve finished just because of the weather and the fact that I am pregnant.

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However, I have been running regularly since I found out I was pregnant.  In fact, the morning I found out, I went for a 7 mile run (at the time I thought I still might be able to run the half).  My doctor encouraged me to keep up with my running since I had already been doing it before pregnancy.

So, how has pregnancy affected my running?

1.  I am still maintaining some mileage.  Since the only thing I am “training” for right now is labor + delivery, I’m just trying to maintain some of the mileage I had already been doing.  Sure, it’s nothing like the 30-40 mile weeks I was doing over the summer when training for Chicago.  But, I am trying to run around 20 miles per week.  And since no speed training is involved, I’m just running junk miles, which I happen to love!  I am running my favorite distances – 3, 4, 5, and 6 mile runs – and totaling that up for the week to equal about 20 miles.  Hopefully, after the baby comes, I will be able to get back to this routine pretty quickly, as I have my sights on running the GO! St. Louis Half a year from now.

2.  I am much slower (for me) than I was before I got pregnant.  Like I said last week, I knew I was pregnant strictly from the fact that my runs had been sucking.  My body knew it needed to slow down, and it did so pretty naturally.  I went from running 7:45 to 8:00 miles to 8:30 to 8:50 miles pretty quickly – like within a week.  It has gotten pretty hard for me to maintain anything under 9:00 miles lately, and I have actually incorporated walking breaks into my runs.

3.  I am listening to my body more than ever now.  The things I have read on running during pregnancy talk a lot about keeping your heart rate under 140 beats per minute (bpm).  This is not as difficult as I thought it would be, and treadmill runs during cold February and March helped me monitor this a lot more.  Now that I am running outside again for the most part, I am trying to run by feel more than anything.  If it feels hard, I slow down.  By incorporating 2 minutes of walking after 8 minutes of running, I can easily bring my heart rate down and keep it around 140.  As I get bigger and it really starts to heat up this summer, walking breaks will probably become more frequent.

4.  I know when to stop running or take a rest day.  So far, I really haven’t had to stop running during a workout.  But, I definitely have taken extra rest days, especially this past week.  I was having some unusual cramping in my upper abdomen (still no idea what it was) that start after my way-too-fast run on Thursday and continued into Friday.  So, I took Friday off, knowing that my body just needed a little extra time to recover.  I also took yesterday off just because I needed some extra sleep since we got up early for the race and then I just wanted a nap afterward.  There are a few other days when I didn’t run just because I was so incredibly bloated, but luckily, most of the bloating has gone away.  However, I AM listened to my body during my runs, and if I am feeling anything out of the ordinary (cramping, nausea, dizziness, etc.), I will stop running.  I haven’t had a problem so far, but that is my rule if something does come up.

My goal is to continue running throughout my entire pregnancy and hopefully I will be able to bounce back quickly after my little Baby Bug arrives and get back to training, if Baby decides to let Mommy get her runs in!  It’s hard to plan for the future, but I feel that having a plan ahead of time helps!  And believe me, I will be that mom rocking the running stroller, and hopefully win some races in the stroller category!

  • Hi Kristen,

    Just a quick line to let you know that your section about ‘running during pregnancy’ has given me further encouragement to continue with my running. So, thank you for sharing your notes !

    Take Care
    Nina

    • Kristen

      Aw, thanks Nina! Keep it up! It’s in your genes! ;o)

  • Yeah for being able to run still! If you ever feel you need more support to the belly to continue comfortably…there is a Maternity FITsplint available now. I actually designed it myself after going through 3 pregnancies. I wanted a jogging maternity support that actually supported the belly, not just the back. Can’t wait to hear more!

    • Kristen

      I feel blessed to still be running! My belly is still pretty small, but it looks perfect for jogging and I have been thinking about getting a support for when my bump is much bigger. I will definitely be keeping yours in mind!