How to Enjoy Running While Pregnant Part 1

I knew it would happen eventually…it was only a matter of time. My love for running and my deep desire to be a mother would collide. The day I found out I was pregnant it was late June and the temps were in the 90s constantly. That kept my long running to a minimal already. But after studying up on the safety of exercising while pregnant my long runs became basically none existant (especially in this heat).
The first trimester is a critical time for the little person forming in a pregnant woman. So many vital organs are being made. It is warned not to get overheated because it could cause serious damage to the fetus. Well hello 90 degree summer and my first trimester!
The first turnaround for me was realizing my planned marathon in October would not be happening. Then waking up every day feeling exaughsted and a little nauseated made me realize early runs were not as easy. So what has this new adventure done to my running life? Before you get that sad…”Great one day I won’t be able to run anymore” feeling read how my running life has taken on a whole new meaning!
First the mechanics…some tips I am learning on how to safely run through a first trimester…
1. Take it in chunks: Running for 3 hours is no longer something I feel comfortable doing now that I am responsible for another life. And it is honestly a lot harder. So I have learned to keep my jogs to 30 to 40 minutes. Especially in your first trimester it is important to be comfortable with how much you push yourself. (I slowly built up my mileage in the second trimester, but backed way off due to not feeling well and wanting to be careful in the first).
2. Keep it cool: While running on the treadmill is definitely not my favorite way to get in a run I have learned to appreciate our air-conditioned gym with a cup holder where I have ice water ready for me when I need a quick cool down. By the way, ice cold water is great when you are pregnant and exercising to keep your core temp down and help the baby stay cool!
3. Don’t forget to fuel: I use to go on 10 to 12 mile runs without eating anything till after. But now that morning sickness has set in more I found that I can’t workout without a bite before. Getting a quick nut bar or some fruit and juice has helped me to feel more energized and less light headed during my workouts.
4. Change your goals: Being a distance runner, distance and time were my goals. I am now learning to change those goals as my priorities change to those of being a mom! My goal now is to work off some of the extra emotional feelings that hang around with my hormones now, to get in a good sweat (but not too hot) and to build some muscle to prepare my body for the due date! I have been reading how women who are in shape can tend to have easier deliveries because their body is more prepared to work that hard. I see my new training plan being a 40 week one instead of an 18 week one.
5. Mix it up: A pregnant woman has more joint relaxing hormones released, making knees and joints more sore while running. So I have learned to appreciate the elliptical machine, the bike, and walking to add variety throughout my weekly workouts. I also highly recommend doing light weight lifting. A strong lower back and core are important to support the soon to be added weight you will be carrying. Strong arms and legs also compliment a cute baby bump well 😉

Now here are some pointers on attitude adjustment I have been learning as I have been growing in this new phase of my life…

1. Embrace your life! I have always hoped to be the person to embrace and be thankful for whatever situation God put me in my life: whether it be cancer, poverty, success, singleness, motherhood. My overwhelming feeling in this situation is that I am incredibly thankful to be blessed with such a gift and honored to be able to carry another human life inside of me. I take that roll very seriously. I let that identity trump my one as a runner. And if along the way running has to be something I give up for the benefit of this baby I will do it gladly!
2. Don’t set goals just take it as it comes. Being pregnant is very new to me so I don’t really know what to expect and how my body will handle it. So I don’t have goals on how much weight I won’t gain or how long I will be able to run or how much I will run. My new idea is to make as many good choices as I can along the way. Not letting cravings dictate how nutritious my meals are. Not giving into being lazy because I am more tired. Letting exercise be my new way of waking up instead of caffeine. Part of the exciting part of this new journey is that it’s new and I will get a chance to trust God with every step of it.
3. Look at the long-term: Being able to run 26.2 miles after 18 weeks of running all the time seems like a big goal and is very exciting for a lot of new marathoners. For me being healthy for my new baby for the next 40 weeks and being able to be a fit and good mom after is more exciting for me. I am learning to let my vision and goals play into the long term more than just immediate victories.
4. Embrace the challenge! As a runner you find some sort of accomplishment and pride in being able to face the physical and mental challenges of running and succeed. Switch your thinking now to the challenges you face as a pregnant woman. I am learning that being pregnant is not for wimps! I am just in the first trimester but I find it easy to constantly feel sorry for myself or entitled to special treatment because of what I am going through. Instead I am trying hard to not dread these physical challenges but be determined not to let them dictate the way I live or how I feel about my life. So I’m tired…probably just as tired as if I was running 30 miles a week (just means my body is working hard). So I feel a little sick…just means I need to make sure I eat, especially protein and be more in tune with my nutritional needs rather than wants. So my boobs hurt like crazy…what part of you doesn’t hurt after a 16 mile run? I still am enjoying my day!

These are the things I am learning as I am starting out in this journey. I will keep you updated on how my running goes. I hope you enjoy reading about it and it encourages all you soon to be moms out there that your running doesn’t have to die and that there is more than one way to enjoy the joy of jogging!

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