Friday, September 30, 2011

Running While Pregnant

Okay, so for those of you who a: aren't pregnant; and b: don't like to run, this blog post really won't be for you. But I enjoy using this blog as a journal - even when it's scattered, like this pregnancy has been - and running has been a part of this pregnancy (yay!).

I say yay because that wasn't the case with Mackie. Doc deleted running from my exercise regimen at 11 weeks when I ended up in the ER with heavy bleeding. While I eventually was able to ramp up my routine to include elliptical, stationary biking, swimming, walking, and weights, it just wasn't the same. I remember crying to Jack toward the end of my pregnancy, asking if I'd ever be able to run again or if I'd have to re-learn how to move my legs.  (yes, please laugh...hormones were in full force!)

Well, I didn't have to re-learn. But that first run about 4 weeks post pregnancy did HURT (not gonna lie!). But it eventually became easier. And easier. And easier. And before I knew it I was running a half-marathon about eight months post-Mackie and completed my second marathon (Chicago, baby!) just shy of when baby girl turned 14 months old (last year - 10.10.10 - a wonderful memory!).

Now I can't make any promises on running long miles so soon after this pregnancy. It's a bit different. I'll have two to take care of and time will be limited. We'll be entering the winter season (ugh, in my opinion) and running isn't that fun in the winter (not that I won't do it, I just don't know how long the runs will be in the below zero wind chill, ice, snow, and "darker" days!).

I do know, though, how refreshing and freeing it's felt to have run this pregnancy. When I became pregnant, I ran about 30 miles a week. I started cutting that mileage back and not focusing so much on time and speed, but to keep moving.

Here's a run-down of my running regimen during pregnancy:

First trimester: Started to decrease mileage at about 10 weeks and went to running about 25-30 miles a week to about 20-22 miles a week (give or take a few). Continued doing cross training - stationary bike, swimming, elliptical, and swimming.

Second trimester: Celebrated feeling much better (and entering the blissful 2nd tri!) by running my favorite race, the Easter 10K Sun Run. I had a "goal time" of finishing in under an hour (slow, but not slow considering I was preggo), and ended up doing the race in about 53 minutes. Again, it was slower than my usual time, but it was fun not caring!

I continued to decrease my mileage as the second tri went on. Usually I ran anywhere from 4-5 days a week pre-pregnancy, but I started to do about 4 days a week and 18-20 miles. It was about 20 weeks or so when I really benefitted from run-walking on most of my runs. I'd run about 20 minutes or so, walk a few minutes, and then run another 10-15 minutes, depending on my body.
Continued cross-training.

Third trimester: I feared that once I entered the third tri my body wouldn't appreciate all of the bouncing. But it was quite the opposite! I ran about 15 miles/week until Week 30 or so, and then started to do 10 miles/week up until about two weeks ago (at Week 34). Running the entire time was no longer an option for me - all of my runs include run-walk segments.

These last two weeks have been tiring. I'm definitely listening to my body more and not even attempting to run 10 miles a week. If I wake up and don't feel like run-walking, I'll hit the gym and do the elliptical or bike. Running is definitely getting slower and I may run 5-10 minutes before walking most of the time. And I'm okay with that. Because I'm about 36 weeks pregnant and the babe is almost full term!

Some people can't believe that I'm still running and jaws about drop when they see my basketball of a belly coming their way in the neighborhood. Others tell me to keep on moving and that the baby is definitely getting soothed by the slight bouncing in the womb (I can attest to that - Wave seems calm during exercise but definitely gets a rush post-workout!). I will  say, though, that no one has told me not to do what I'm doing. I thought for sure I'd be getting glares at the gym or raised eyebrows, but not one person has been bold enough to tell me to stop exercising.

I hope that's a sign of the times and that more people are realizing the benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Not only does it keep my heart pumpin' and my body in shape, but because exercise is part of my daily routine and lifestyle, it helps me mentally more than anything.

I'm definitely envious of the prime time running season and watching/hearing/listening all of the fellow running enthusiasts out there training for their upcoming half marathons and marathons. But I know that in a few short weeks, this pregnancy will come to an end. And a few weeks after that, the double BOB will (hopefully!) make an appearance around the neighborhood....(cold) weather permitting!

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