By Erin Young
I found myself relentlessly tired from weeks of epic running. I had flown out to Yosemite that spring break, to poke around and then over to Lake Sonoma only to be humbled by 50 miles of relentless “hills”. Two weeks later I ran (my face off!) at the Ice Age 50 miler in Wisconsin, gunning for top 10 in hopes of a ticket to the “big dance”. Just two weeks after that, my girlfriends and I took off for our dream adventure trip to the Grand Canyon for the 53 mile rim to rim to rim adventure to be covered in just one day. I played hard. I was living with no regrets, saying yes to everything. That all came to an abrupt end when I just couldn’t kick the fatigue. I was just SO tired. After weeks of rest and still whining, “I am SO tired”, my best work buddy slapped me with the ridiculous suggestion that I try a pregnancy test. I laughed in a way that now just seems so cocky. When she found me crying behind my desk, she knew she was right. And just for the record, those were tears of fear, not regret. Never regret. Fear because I knew that life as I knew it, was over. But life wasn’t over. This was great. I was going to have a little buddy to be part of all of these adventures! But running through a pregnancy isn’t easy. I found ways to make it tolerable, and even enjoyable. These are my suggestions for keeping it going and even making the actual birth far easier!
- Don’t stop running! As soon as you find out you are expecting, make your plan to keep it going. Once you are out of shape, getting back is far more difficult during pregnancy. Be reasonable and make your goal to maintain fitness rather than gain. There has never been a better time to focus on building your aerobic base.
- Remember that heart Rate will be elevated and you will breath heavier, even if you haven’t gained a pound yet. Blood volume doubles before the end of the 1st trimester, causing your heart to work harder
- Don’t worry about going above a certain heart rate. It is a myth. You can run hard and race as long as you feel up to it. You will cut off your own oxygen supply before you ever take away from the baby. Trust me, I had an OB researcher to back me up on that one and I raced all the way through pregnancy!
- Running in the heat is going to feel way more difficult. You will get hotter faster. I suggest early morning or treadmill runs in the air conditioning. Always carry ice cold water, or ground up ice with water. It will help you feel cooler.
- Invest in a “belly belt”. They will help you run longer into pregnancy and give your belly and lower back support. I also continued to use it for several months after I had my son. This is a must!! Belly Belt This is similar to the one I got, there are many choices on Amazon. Don’t bother with the cheap ones as there is little support.
- The Hoka’s sure are ugly, but they are the greatest pregnancy run shoe ever! Just look at all that cushion!
- Running dirt trails felt so good compared to the road. Plus it is usually shaded and not as many people around to witness your walk breaks!
- Have a running buddy! It helps so much to have a friend to motivate you. Some days were so difficult to roll out of bed. Having my friends waiting for me (sometimes in my driveway!) got me moving every morning before work. I was lucky enough to have a few who could tolerate my dropping pace. And when I was too slow, we ran on treadmills next to each other!
- Strength train! You don’t have to do box squats, but 2-3 times a week in the weight room will maintain your some of your strength and make recovery easier. Plus, you won’t feel so terrible with the added baby fat that you WILL have during pregnancy.
Run as much as you want as long as you are comfortable. You know you better than anyone. The day my back and pelvis started hurting I halted to a walk and my son came that evening. I have no regrets about running during pregnancy. It was difficult, but making it social made it enjoyable and helped me feel more like myself. I realized that I wasn’t giving up my identity, but it was enhanced.
Now, running after the baby comes is a whole other story! The good news is that pushing the baby jogger really IS easier than having one in your belly!