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running during pregnancy ...

Posted Mar 17 2010 12:34am
I just want to start this post by saying I am not an expert about running during a pregnancy (although I am certified in pre and postnatal fitness). This is simply my experience. What worked and didn't work for me. It is particular to my situation. I am happy to share what I know, but always consult your doctor (the stuff you read on the Internet isn't always the best.)

OK, so a few weeks back I wrote about how I caught the running bug during my pregnancy with Dilly. From that post, I received several requests for more information on the topic. So, I compiled your questions and decided to retell my pregnancy running journey. Here it goes
In May of 2008, J and I decided to try for our third child. I had just completed my first marathon two months earlier and was racing 5Ks and 10Ks every weekend (running about 20-25 miles per week). Not quite sure how my running would affect my fertility, I decided to keep everything about my training program exactly how it was. A firm believer that things happen for a reason, I figured if I was meant to get pregnant I would.

And it worked. Two weeks later, I conceived Dilly. And it affected my running immediately. I was still able to maintain the intensity that I was used to, but it drained me so much more. In fact, three days before I got a positive test I was on a 5 mile training run that kicked my butt. I was so fatigued that I knew that either I was very sick or I was pregnant.

Once I got that positive test result, I decided that I was just going to listen to my body. On the days I felt good I would push it. And on the other days, I wouldn't. During those early weeks of my pregnancy, I raced in a 10K and two sprint triathlons. I also trained for my first half marathon under the supervision of my doctor. (Fortunately, for me, I had a doctor who supported my active lifestyle). At 17 weeks, I finished that half in brutally hot conditions (seriously, at one point there was a woman wearing a similar outfit who had passed out and G nearly had a heart attack thinking it was me ...)

After the half, I dropped my training into maintenance mode. I was running 15 miles per week (three 3 milers, one 6 miler). And although my mileage (and pace) dropped, I continued racing, finishing several 5Ks, an 8K and a 10K through the fall. My final race was a 10K at 35 weeks. I was huge and waddling, but I finished and actually beat 32 people in a time of 1:04:51. I continued running until the end of my pregnancy. My last run (7 miles) was three days before I delivered.

Personally, I felt like running during my pregnancy was the best decision I made. I had an easy pregnancy, easy labor and quick recovery. Fortunately, I was not plagued by many of the things that other pregnant runners I know have experienced (bladder issues, extreme pubic bone pain, swelling, etc). For me, it was an amazing experience that taught me about how much by body can handle.

Now to your questions
1. I really want to try a Running Skirt, but wondered if you were able to wear their regular (non-maternity) style skirt while pregnant? Did you just order your pre-pregnancy size and let the band fall below your belly? Did you find it stayed up OK?

I did wear their regular skirts when pregnant. In fact, that is pretty much all I wore. Maybe runningskirts.com should sponsor me ... I have the maternity skirt in a size small and it did provide great support (I have still been known to wear it). But wearing a Bella Band when you run can accomplish the same thing as the maternity skirt.

2. Did you ever have to get a support belt while preggo? I'm finding I get about 20 minutes out on a run and have to find a bathroom! The belly is really pressing down on everything and just didn't know if there was anything to do or if that's part of the whole running while pregnant deal.

I own a support belt and never wore it because it made me look like I had muffin top (yes, I am that vain). Personally, I didn't have bladder issues. Again, Bella Bands can be a very supportive alternative.

3. Did you find your body felt different running pregnant vs. not pregnant? For example, I find my legs are "heavier" while running, I never feel light footed. And they're burn a little the whole time I'm running. It's just not nearly as comfortable as it was non-pregnant, so I wonder if that too is just part of the experience?

Yeah, so running pregnant is a whole different experience. My legs felt like lead from day 1. I never felt like I could get to full speed. I saw this as my body's way of telling me not to push it to hard. The best thing you can do is listen. My main discomfort came from pubic bone pain after I ran. I usually was fine during the run, but sometimes I would come home and it would hurt to try to cross my legs. It was worse if I did a hilly route. I think the best tip I can give you is listen to your body. If you feel good, push it. If you're not having the best day, slow it down or take a rest day.

4. What was your running schedule like? Did it change once you got preggo? Did you run every day? How often did you race?

During the first half of my pregnancy I followed a half marathon training schedule that peaked at 30 miles per week. Once that race was over, I went into a maintenance program, running 15 miles per week on average. I ran four days a week (which is what I still do). And I raced nine times in the nine months (but it wasn't once a month).

5. When did you return to running?

I was released by my doctor at three weeks (most doctors won't release you until six weeks). I ran my first post-baby race, a 5K, when Dilly was 24 days old.

I hope that helps all of you future mamas out there. If you have other questions, feel free to contact me at tmb625@yahoo.com .
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