July 21, 2014

Thoughts About Running For Two (32.5 weeks)

I want to stop and document the working out/running I've been doing during pregnancy. And let me preface this by saying that I really don't like constantly reading blogs about paces and workouts. I am writing this so down the road when a friend is expecting and asks me about my exercise routine while preggo, I can remember! Like I've said before, a few relatives and coworkers have a been a bit less than supportive of my running while pregnant. And to be blunt (since this is my personal space and all), I think those ideas are IGNORANT. A person with a healthy and normal pregnancy should be able to run, assuming they were running prior to conception and assuming they have their doctor's blessing.

So, here is the nitty gritty at this point, over 8 months preggo, 32 weeks and 5 days.
My mileage was at a peak prior to and during conception. I was doing mileage in the 90s, but not too much speed work, as I was training for my first 50 miler.

The first thing I did was reduce the mileage. The old me would've hated this. However, I had night sickness pretty bad, and it left me exhausted for those early morning runs. As my pregnancy has progressed, my mileage has slowly slipped to right around 30-35 miles per week. Those numbers are very humbling. However, I have added other forms of exercise. Here are a few points that I've learned about running while pregnant. Keep in mind that it's different for every pregnant woman.

*You are hotter than normal. In general, being 8+ months in south Alabama is very, very hot. Running outside is hot and humid. I carry a bottle of water with ice for every run, no matter how short. I kept up long runs until the start of the 3rd trimester. I know some pregnant women continue long runs all the way, but for me, I just didn't FEEL like it, as running isn't near as enjoyable anymore. (Once finding out I was pregnant, I cut my long runs back to 14 miles because really, why would I do more?) I run about 5-6 days a week now, around 6 miles each time. Sometimes I will drive to the gym, do 3 miles outside and finish up on the treadmill. The heat sends my heart rate to a place that I'm not comfortable with. NOTE: doctors have confirmed that the "heart rate test" is out of date when placing restrictions on pregnancy exercise. The "talk test" is a better for perceived effort. That's where you make sure you can still talk in complete sentences during workouts. This is especially important in early pregnancy when parts are still developing. And this point, I have a fully grown baby; she just needs to fatten up before being born. :) Fueling is also important. I have found that if I run on empty like used to, I will bonk faster than at Mile 20 of a  marathon where you went out too fast. My coach was kind enough to give me a ton of Power Power fruit puree things, and I eat one of those before heading out each morning. They are really easy to digest, and low in sugar so even early in pregnancy they didn't cause nausea. Don't just take my advice, though. Do your own research and talk to your own doctor. :)

*Stuff will start to ache and hurt. This is where the dreaded saying "Listen to you body" comes into play. I bought a belly support band at about 20 weeks. I didn't really need it then, but had read that it helps with having to pee all the time. (That will be my next bullet.) It didn't help the pee factor. I bought the cheap one from Motherhood Maternity. There are all sorts of brands and styles. They are adjustable; so you can wear them throughout your whole pregnancy. They also have a front and back adjustment strap; so you can change the type of support depending on where you need it most. For me, I feel fine during running, but afterwards… HOLY LOWER BACK PAIN. Also, once I hit 3rd trimester I've had pain "down there." I won't really elaborate on that too much, but imagine doing a century bike ride without a padded seat or padded short. Yeah, that…. They also make a support band that has kind of a jock strap for women, but being how close I am to the end, I'll just tough it out at this point.

*You have to pee. A lot. At about 12 weeks pregnant, Sam and I went on a run, maybe a 7 miler? I stopped for a bathroom break, but a mile later I told her I had to go again. We had a conversation that concluded with both of us thinking it was just in my head, something similar to pre-race jitters that I could definitely make it one and half more miles to my house (also the end of our run). Um, no. I did not make it. I totally peed my pants with a quarter mile to go. So, ladies. Let me just say that I've done the study. You really DO have to pee. It's not in your head; so by all means, hit every bathroom you find, no matter how frequently. And once that belly gets bigger and heavier, you may pee your pants little by little and not even know it. These days when I finish a run I'm honestly not sure if I've just sweated that much or if I peed my pants. Pregnancy, it's a humbling thing!

*Yoga and stretching- if you have read this blog for any point in time, you will know how much I detest stretching and yoga, always have. However, yoga has really been my saving grace throughout this pregnancy. There is no doubt in my head that I would not be running right now if it weren't for my little prenatal yoga video. And disclaimer to add that some doctors do not approve regular yoga practice for two reasons- time spent with heart above head and your ligaments might get overstretched. In pregnancy, ligaments loosen, and it's easier for you to get injured. The hard part is that you have to find a balance b/c you are so tight and achy that the stretching feels awesome, but you can't go too far or you'll risk injury. The prenatal yoga videos have been perfect for me. I do a 10 minute video after each run. Um, but I do put her on mute, as the teacher's voice makes me want to jump through the tv screen and claw her face. LOL.

*Weights and strength- I incorporate prenatal pilates about 3 times a week and weights at the gym about 1-2 days a week. My decision to do pilates is based on wanting to maintain proper balance and core strength throughout pregnancy and help myself bounce back faster after delivery. Once again, the prenatal version makes sure all the moves are safe for mamma and baby. My pilates video incorporates things like lunges and standing squarest, things that maintain leg strength. I'm hoping that also helps my return to training after Savannah is born.

The only things I've done "wrong" is not have a specific schedule for these different types of workouts. I basically go on how I'm feeling that day. On days I don't run, I do the elliptical at the gym, followed by weights. Some days I might do pilates and weights on the same day or some days just running. I should probably be smarter about spacing them out better, but at this point, I really just don't care. If I'm sore, I'm sore. It doesn't make much of a difference, considering something is achy nearly every day.

*What to Wear- Depending on your size before pregnancy, you a may or may not need maternity workout clothes. I have managed fine by sizing up (now 2 sizes) on shirts. My favorite pregnancy running shirt is Brooks Pure Project tank. I bought a size large, and it still fits perfectly with my huge belly. It's even long enough! (And I'm 5'8.) I regularly raid my hubby's racing shirts. For shorts, I still wear a few pairs of my old/regular shorts and just pull them below the belly, Captain Obvious. I did buy a few pairs in a size larger, and am just now needing those as Savannah reaches her birth weight and drops. Bras. Bras. Bras. Bras. I'm still figuring this one out. My chest was the first thing to get huge; A cup to C cup overnight basically. While C is not huge for a lot of pregnant ladies, it feels huge to me after being flat chested all my life. At first, I went up one size in sports bras, but bought the kind with padding. This helped early on when I was super sore. As the soreness faded and I got even bigger, I took the padding out. And then there's the chafing. After all my years of running, I've only chafed a handful of times and never had to use Body Glide. I got chafed badly once from capri tights in the rain. That was a bad one, and my first marathon I wore a cotton teeshirt that chafed my collar bones to the point of blood. That was bad, too. Other than that, never really had a problem with it. Well, first long run with new boobs and new bra chafed my ENTIRE BOOB. Yep, the whole thing. Holy ouch. I like to think that was nature's way of preparing me for breastfeeding. LOL. Since then, I Body Glide like it's my job.

And that's all I have for now. I would really like to run all the way to delivery, but right now I'm taking it week by week. I know that being able to be active and healthy during pregnancy is a huge blessing, and I'm thankful for that.

Run Happy, friends!


  1. Have no pregnancy info to share/relate to, but I am laughing at the yoga comment! I sometimes do yoga for runners and I always mute that crazy woman, or else I collapse laughing when she tells me to "Let my light radiate in every direction" - meaning, of course, to spread arms and legs wide.

  2. A cup to C cup overnight... Maybe I should have gotten my wife pregnent!!!

    Now as much as I train to become faster over any race I run I train and do session that I enjoy. So I'm pleased you didn't feel you needed a program of when to do what, you need that freedom to do what grabs you on any day!

  3. Thanks for documenting! It really is so important for other folks to have access so they can understand their options. I ran peachtree with a pregnant friend in 2012 and her doctor had told her she couldn't get her HR above 130. Mind you, she'd been a runner, had a huge heart reserve, and we eventually ran peachtree with her HRM maxing out at 150. Her boy was born perfectly healthy several months later, but the only reason she felt comfortable continuing her workouts despite her OBGYN's ridiculous pronouncements were that her GP was a runner and said her OB was crazy (and pointed her to several studies to the contrary). I'm super excited to see how much improvement you have post-pregnancy -- you know that the progesterone/testosterone influx results in documented performance increases, right?

    Also, your bladder comments reminded me of something my gran said a while back. I'd asked her if she had any advice for me (because she was a bad-ass lady who'd lived a long time and had seen a ton of stuff). She said, "The best advice I can give to you is that you should always take advantage of an opportunity to go to the bathroom."

    Wizened Genius!