Running While Pregnant Part 2: The Day I Stopped Running

After completing my half marathon week 17 of my pregnancy I felt pretty accomplished. I also felt a lot of pelvic pressure and hip pain. Nothing bad…I checked…just much more sore than I used to be! It took a couple days to feel relaxed and pain free again. I continued for the next month with average running days and a long run (no more than 7 or 8 miles) once a week. I had to plan more bathroom breaks on my runs and the last couple of weeks the pressure in my pelvis felt more painful and started worrying me.
I have had some experience with injuries and just training pain…this pain was starting to air on the “red flag side” for me. At week 21 I had an ultrasound that put my mind at ease. Baby was healthy and very active! Seeing the little guy made me so excited! But it also emphasized my desire to keep him safe at all cost…funny how becoming a parent changes your desires for you!
I asked my doctor at that appointment about running in the second half of my pregnancy. She always greatly encouraged my active life style. But she answered that at about 20 weeks she warns women that the pressure of the baby and placenta on the pelvic floor muscles could potentially lead to a tearing of those muscles and require surgery later on. I had read a few articles about this risk. I also knew the position of my placenta being more forward put a lot of pressure on my bladder already. That was enough for me, surgery was not worth it. So I decided that day to stop running all together.
On the way home my husband seemed sensitive to me having to give up something I love so much. But I felt different than I thought I would…I felt freedom. The pain of running made it more of a burden than a joy, and more of a worry than something that brought peace-of-mind. I knew there was plenty of other exercises I could do to get a good sweat in.
So my plan for staying active evolved again…here is the new plan I followed for a good portion of my second and third trimester…
I still saw my delivery day as a big race I was preparing for. So I studied more on exercises to benefit the areas of my body that needed it as well as addressing the physical stress of the weight gain with stretching and strengthening. The elliptical machine became my new best friend (and occasionally the stationary bike). And since I am so programmed to have one long run a week to look forward to I replaced it with a two hour cardio workout once a week. This was usually the elliptical and a little biking to break it up. This weekly exertion helped relax and stretch sore muscles from working on my feat all day. It also kept me in shape as the weight I carried around grew. Another benefit was it gave me time to study, read, and watch tv which was becoming rarer with all the business of changes in our lives. It was nice to put the never ending appointment making and to do list on hold, put in the headphones and enjoy whatever distractions I chose to indulge in. And when studying for my personal training exam became more priority, it gave me peace to know once a week I would have two solid hours of pure memorization.
something else I did not expect my new habit of gym visits would do for me is create a sense of community and support. I quickly, and unintentionally, gained new friends and fans of my active pregnancy as my belly grew. A small group of older grandmothers loved to comment on how good I looked and how impressed they were with my dedication. They endearingly called me their “favorite fat woman”. The front desk workers even seemed to perk up as I waddled through the door. I know this is the only time in life when a big, bulging belly makes others happy! The women who cleaned our locker room seemed to also adopt me as their new favorite person to dote on. They would always make sure I felt ok, and see how the pregnancy was going and encourage me to keep coming ( probably mostly so they could see me). The level of encouragement, positivity, community, and support at my gym definitely helped my self-image and motivation!
I am now on week 34…getting close to the end! I feel really good for this point of pregnancy. A few weeks of back pain and the beginnings of sciatica encouraged me to stretch more and stay consistent with working out. Now I feel relatively free of pain and aches. Today I will go to the gym for my long cardio workout. But I may not go for a full 2 hours because inducing early labor is more a concern now. But at least an hour or an hour and a half should relax my body a little…especially after moving recently and all the unpacking I’ve been doing.
You may ask yourself…if you are or have been pregnant…how do you workout with so little energy in your third trimester. Honestly, the tiredness I feel now is similar to when I was training for a marathon, so my natural instinct is to just take better care of my body as it works so hard. Which means eating healthier, more intentional nutrients, sleeping longer when needed and available, stretching, and staying in routine with specific days off. I do have days where the last thing I want to do is go to the gym but I have found that the tightness in my body and aches is not worth the extra sitting around time. And once my workout is over I most often feel more relaxed and at ease than before.
So 6 more weeks or so to go. I’ll keep you posted as I get serious in my training to prepare for my big “race” day.

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