Tag Archives: running while pregnant

Tips, running throughout your pregnancy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Running throughout your WHOLE pregnancy can be done.  Here are some learned pointers that ended up helping me along the way…
Please bear in mind, these worked for me!  It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for everyone.
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1) First and foremost, BEFORE you become pregnant be able to carry out the exercise routine you wish to perform WHILE you are pregnant.  If you want to run three miles every day from conception to birth, you should be able to run three miles every day before the sperm meets the egg!

Pregnancy, in a sense, makes you feel more out of shape then you really are.
Look at it this way:

Being in shape x pregnancy (feel out of shape) = hard

Being out of shape x pregnancy (feel out of shape) = 2x as hard

Planning to combat being out of shape and pregnancy at the same time is not safe for you or your baby AND would blow a$$!  Think about it…As your growing BABY puts all these new, crazy strains on your body, YOU also plan on putting crazy strains on your body via new work out regiment? Girl, you cray!

2) Don’t take too many days off in a row.  When your pregnant your body is changing rapidly (although it may not seem like it, pregnancy is a quick change for the human body.  Hence, stretch marks) on a DAILY basis, you need to adapt your ‘active body’ right along with it.

Say you take a week off and in that week you also gain 5lbs.  After your 7 days of rest you go out for a jog.  Not only has your belly grown, but you’ve also gained weight- both of which will change your gait and put extra strain on your muscles and joints.  It probably won’t kill your running game but it will definitely leave you sore in places you didn’t realize existed.

I never went more than two days in a row without doing some form of a workout.

3) Listen to your body.  Remember it’s no longer just about you. Walk if your body is screaming at you to slow down.  Quit if your body is screaming at you to stop.  You are not trying to win any medals or get that six pack you always wanted (ha).  You are trying to stay active because of the numerous benefits it brings to you and your babes not only throughout your pregnancy but also your labor and your health post labor!

There were days when I was tired. So. Dang. Gone. Tired.  I would tell myself, “Just do one mile.” Sometimes I would get started and only do that one mile, other times I would get cruising, start feeling good and end up doing five.

4) Pregnancy is not a free pass to eat anything and everything you want.  I’m not here to formulate a diet plan for you, but just be smart.  Most Americans with access to an Internet (you) know the basics to healthy eating habits.  If you really are clueless, google it. Google knows everything.

You have so called cravings, you say?  Cravings are, to be brutally honest, bullshit.  Craving pickles?  You need more salt.  Craving sweets? You need more protein.  Craving meat?  You need more fat and protein.

I’m a decent eater. Sweets and beer (that was obviously not an issue) are my biggest vices. Sweets go to my belly and beers go to my ass– if I don’t practice moderation.  I’ve attempted to cut sweets out of my diet but that always leads to a Baskin Robbins 3 scoop sundae with caramel, marshmallow, hot fudge, cookie dough chunks, and whip cream on top, hold the cherry, please, at the end of my sweet-less week.  Decidedly so, I do better allowing myself one small treat a day!

5) Cross train!  I’m not writing this blog to promote running and running alone.  Before I became pregnant I was playing in a soccer league twice a week, lifting once a week and running in between. Once I became pregnant I could no longer play soccer but I lifted until the day I gave birth. Like literally, the day I went into labor I ran 3.5 miles and got a good lift in. When you’re pregnant it is SO beneficial to be STRONG.

6) Set goals. Sign up for races.  If you don’t you may burn out or give up.

My “long” runs while I was pregnant were 5-6.5 miles. I promised my husband I wouldn’t run further than 6.5, except for one run during the 7th month, in which I would jog 7, one during the 8th month in which I would jog 8 and lastly one run during the 9th month in which I would jog 9!

7) Call me Captain Obvious, but bring a dang cell phone.  Whether you are 5 weeks pregnant or 35 weeks pregnant, anything can happen at anytime regardless of what you’re doing.

Along with emergencies, cell phones are great to GPS your runs (I use the Map My Run app) and to document your progress along the way.

8) Record your mileage!  Take photos of your routes, belly included! Even now when I am running and pushing my 5 month old son in the Bob I get to tell him, “You know, you’ve actually been here lots of times previously. But last time you were here, you were in my tummy.” Or “We ran over a 1,000 miles together, Thatcher Bishop.”

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Labor and Post Birth Tid-Bits

So,
After running on average 6 days/week (accumulating close to 35 miles/week) and lifting 2-3 days/week throughout my pregnancy, what was the result?

My labor was text book.  My water broke at 5:30 PM on Oct 26, 2013 (37 weeks, 6 days). I started contracting 30 minutes later. When I got to the hospital I was 2-3 cm dilated (“take that!” to the nurse who told me I had probably just peed my pants because I was only 37 weeks) I had an epidural at 5 cm.  No pitocin.  Pushing was more painful than exhausting.  I pushed on pretty much every friggin contraction. And no, I was not one of the lucky ones who only pushed 3 times.  My son was born at 6:35 AM.  Thirty minutes later I walked from labor and delivery to our hospital room.  The nurse told my husband it was one of the smoothest labors she’s seen.  Whether or not she tells everyone that, we’ll never know but I like to believe my husband and I, as a team, did a damn good job (He was such an amazing support.)

Daddy
Daddy
My pre-pregnancy weight was 155. When I delivered I weighed 171. That’s a 16lb weight gain.

My baby boy weighed 7lbs, was 20 inches long and was/is as healthy as can be.

Thatcher Bishop
Thatcher Bishop
I chose to breastfeed and had very few issues.  The beginning WAS a learning experience for me and my baby boy.  Though I would say we crossed the beginner to intermediate to advanced thresholds quickly.  My supply was never an issue.  Some scrutinize that exercising decreases supply– they cray.  In my experience this is absolutely false. When I was pumping I get 5-6 oz…out of each boobie!

My pelvic floor is as strong as ever! I do not leak and do not have to sprint to the bathroom unexpectedly.  A lot of my friends told me my bathroom habits would never be the same after birth, especially SINCE I was running so much.  Not true.  I believe running (and especially lifting) helped STRENGTHEN my pelvic floor.  Lets be honest here, during runs in the later months you’re basically doing one long Kegel exercise the entire duration!

I went on my first post pregnancy run 7 days postpartum. Did it hurt?  No.  Feel a little funny?  Yes.

I ran 6.5 miles 2 weeks postpartum and also started developing iStroll workouts.

After my first long-ish run post partum
After my first long-ish run postpartum
I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight the same day I went on my first run,  7 days postpartum.  A week later I weighed 7 lbs less, which is pretty much where I have stayed- 143-148.

Throughout my pregnancy I never got “swollen”.  Water weight was never ever an issue. My wedding bands always fit and I never once got sausage toes or ankles! That idea is still so foreign to me.

My resting heart rate while I was pregnant was always around 58. My blood pressure was always in the 115-110 over 70 range.

8 months!
8 months!
I never purchased maternity pants. Most (some were too high waisted) of my jeans would button beneath my bump.

& Lastly, 5 months later I still feel great!

Update: 1.5 years later and with the development of iStroll I’m in the best shape ever and do not doubt that I could do it all again! 

  

Second Trimester Running

Ahhh! The second trimester! This is the best you will feel. Embrace it and run all you can.

5 months pregnant!
5 months pregnant!

My second trimester was fabulous. I felt normal… which is pretty damn good for a pregnant woman. There were even seconds where I would think to myself, “oh yeah, I’m pregnant!”

Running got better in the second trimester. Although I still wasn’t making record breaking mile times (heck yea 10 minute miles!), the fatigue and feeling of being out of shape did disappear.

6 months!
6 months!

During the second trimester I made sure I incorporated weight lifting into my workout routine.  Weight training helped me avoid the wiggly joint feeling I heard so much about.   Lots of women complained that towards their third trimester their hips started to feel “loose,” putting a stop to their running.  Having the muscle strength to support your joints is key.

As an ex-D1 athlete I’m fortunate to have a familiarity with proper weight training.  If you do not have an understanding of correct technique, I highly suggest asking a fellow gym patron or trainer for advice on lifting weights.  The last thing you want to do is tweek muscles while you’re already putting extra strain on your muscles from being pregnant.

I didn’t lift extravagantly, I just made sure I hit all my muscle groups.  I am one of those females who fears the ‘too muscle-ly’ look.  I am naturally strong and gain muscle mass rather easily.  So many fitness fanatics say women can lift without getting bulky.  I promise — I am the exception!  If I lift without doing cardio, it’s like pop-eye eating spinach but with an extra couple layers of fat over the muscle.  I prefer running/doing cardio 5-6 days a week, but on one or two of those days only doing a couple miles and getting in a good lift.
While pregnant I tried to lift twice a week, which honestly usually did not happen.  I almost always got in one solid lift per week.

I did make a point to start consuming a lot more water in the second trimester.  I began getting headaches, one of my few pregnancy symptoms.  I’m fortunate that I am not normally someone burdened with migraines and such, but pregnancy definitely brought about some temple pounders.  After speaking with my doctor, she suggested drinking more water.  She believed the headaches were due to mild dehydration and boy was she right. After being super conscientious and drinking enough h20, the headaches disappeared.

Along with in-taking enough water, I also made a point to consume more protein than I normally would. I’m not a vegetarian by any means, but unless I’m eating a beautiful, bloody steak, some nicely marinated chicken or even better, some sushi, I’d much rather have something easy like an almond butter sandwich or avocado and black bean wrap. In desperate times a bowl of granola cereal does the job even.  Running up to 35 miles a week AND creating a little human being inside you definitely requires some extra amino acids! Extra meat, especially red meat, was a must for me.

I was never one to have crazy cravings. If you read my running tips you’ll see why, but I could always go for a cheeseburger! It was my body telling me, more fatty protein, please!

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Mileage:

21 weeks
July 1, 5.5
July 2, 4.5
July 3, 6 + lift
July 4, 5 (greenway)
July 6, 6 (greenway)
July 7, 3 (Washington Park)
July 8, 5.5 (Washington Park)

22 weeks
July 9, 5.5
July 11, 3 (Omaha)
July 12, 5.5 + lift
July 13, 2.5
July 14, 6
July 15, 6.5

23 weeks July 17, 6 + lift
July 18, 5
July 19, 5
July 20, 6
July 21, 6 + lift

24 weeks
July 23, 6
July 24, 5.5 + lift
July 25, 5
July 26, 5
July 27, 6
July 29, 4

25 weeks
July 30, 5.5
July 31, 5
Aug 1, 4
Aug 2, 6.5
Aug 3, 5.5 + lift
Aug 5, 6

26 weeks
Aug 6, 6.5
Aug 7, 4.5 + lift
Aug 8, 6
Aug 10, 6
Aug 11, 4 + lift
Aug 12, 5.5

27 weeks
Aug 13, 6
Aug 14, 3.5
Aug 15, 4.5
Aug 16, 6.0 + lift
Aug 17, 6.5
Aug 18, off
Aug 19, 4.5

Getting started, First Trimester Running

One of my biggest regrets as I begin this blog is that I did not start tracking my mileage until the 2nd trimester.  Thus, I don’t have numbers to share reflecting my first trimester runs, but I do have a good recollection of my experience.

For starters, I have to throw this out there- I didn’t have a lick of morning sickness.  Toss it up to good luck, good genes, healthy eating habits or working out daily (I have heard working out helps with morning sickness!).  I didn’t get sick– not once.   With that, I cannot, at all, compare my experience to the mama’s out there who are strung over the toilet, spewing out their guts multiple times a day in the first, and sometimes second and third, trimester.

6 weeks pregnant
6 weeks pregnant

So I got lucky and dodged morning sickness, but I sure as hell felt tired; literally could have slept All. Day. Every. Day. Fatigue was definitely my biggest pregnancy-symptom-culprit, second being the drastic decline in my running pace.

(Side note: I did also get some weird skin tag on my neck and a freckly face!)

To put it into perspective, the week before I got pregnant I ran a half marathon.  Around 4 weeks after baby boy’s conception before I knew I was pregnant, I THOUGHT I had hit a weird running wall.  My average training pace on a, say 4 mile run, went from 7:00:00-7:15:00 mile to 9:00:00-9:30:00/mile.  Low and behold, I was not somehow regressing, I was just preggers!

When I found out I was pregnant I was 6 weeks along.  I quickly dove into any information (There’s some, but not enough!) I could find on running/exercising while pregnant.  One of the first things I looked into was  why I was dragging ass on my runs…

Broken down into a very simple summary, this is what I found:
When you become pregnant your body’s hormones change to support your growing belly and the little baby inside.  One of these hormonal changes causes an increase in blood PLASMA (Note plasma, not cells).  So the volume of the fluid that your red blood cells float around in increases, but (very generally speaking) the number of cells in the fluid remains the same.  One of the main jobs of a red blood cells is to transport oxygen to muscles.

Got all that? So- When you exercise (use your muscles at a greater rate and with more force) your muscles need more oxygen.  But now that you’re pregnant your heart has to pump quicker and you have to breathe harder to push oxygen (attached to all the cells) to your muscles through your extra blood plasma (fluid).  All in all, exercising DOES become more difficult and in a sense you DO regress; you’re having to breathe harder to get more oxygen than before and your heart has to pump quicker to get the same amount of oxygen to your muscles as it was prior to pregnancy.

Confusing right? Let me draw you a picture.

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Pumping heart to get O2 to muscles. Left- not pregnant; Right- pregnant
Besides fatigue, my symptoms were minimal. I had mild round ligament in pain in my pelvis and groin-ish area that often felt worse after a run. I’ve read journals and googled to the days end and haven’t found any research on running while pregnant and the affects on the ligaments supporting your belly. I truly believe running strengthened every muscle, ligament, tendon and joint that partook in carrying my unborn son. My scientific two cents is that if the ligaments supporting your belly are like everything else in your body, they’ll adapt to keep up with your daily activity. I held baby boy super high and super tight (My belly didn’t “pop” until 8 months.) so I assure you my ligaments were nice and strong– perhaps due to running every day.

During the first trimester definitely don’t over consume. Your babes is still the size of a tube of lipstick therefore when you gain 10 lbs in the first three months, you can’t blame it on your new addition! Yes you’re working out and yes you’re pregnant so you DO need more calories than the average shmo. BUT we’re not talking a banana split after breakfast lunch and dinner. Be mindful. Be smart.

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Remember, he’s the size of your Chapstick tube!
If you can over come first trimester fatigue as well as the blow to your running ego, you should be able to keep chugging right along to the second trimester- the most pleasant time frame of your pregnancy!