After I finished my first half marathon at 9½ weeks pregnant, I announced to my husband as we left the race, “Now I can just sit on my a** and get fat for 7 months!” And I kinda meant it. Not having any idea what pregnancy would be like for me, I had moved my half-marathon goal up to the soonest race possible to squeeze it in before running would surely not be an option…right?
But 27 weeks later, I’m still lacing up my Newtons to hit the pavement (or treadmill) once or twice a week—quite the pleasant surprise for me.
When others hear that I’m still running well into the third trimester, I usually get two questions: “Why?” and “How?”
Why I continue to run:
- It feels good. I feel better when I’m active, pregnant or not, and I wouldn’t do it if it were uncomfortable or painful. I don’t let myself get out of breath or overheated. I try to stay very in tune with my body and what I’m feeling, and so I run when it says, “run!” (And stop when it says, “stop.”)
- I run better than I walk. When I walk for longer distances (I.E. for exercise), I can feel myself settling back on my heels, jutting my hips forward, and assuming the pregnant “waddle.” when I run, I can move my center of gravity forward and align my hips and spine, which keeps my back from getting sore.
- It keeps me regular. This may be T.M.I., but my non-pregnant self is a well-oiled machine when it comes to moving the goods through the system. My pregnant self…a little less so. A quick run now and then keeps me from getting bogged down. All other exercise is much less effective.
How I continue to run:
- I don’t run as far or as often. With the exception of my 13.1 mile race, before I was pregnant I was running around six miles a 2-3 times a week. now I only run about three miles 1-2 times a week, and that is often with a bathroom break ;). The last time I ran five miles was at 34 weeks.
- I wear a support belt. I’ve found I can go farther without the bathroom urge if I pulled the baby off my bladder a bit with a supportive maternity belt. Also, as baby has grown, I feel that wearing a belt gives him a smoother ride, no matter how improved my running form is.
- I only run when I feel like it. I thankfully have not struggled with fatigue or sickness throughout this pregnancy, but some days—or weeks—I just don’t feel like it. So I don’t run. I’m not doing this to accomplish a goal or prove something to myself. It’s simply what my body wants to do.
I’m not the first or last pregnant woman to continue running throughout pregnancy. In fact, those ladies are my inspiration. I did my research on necessary precautions, cleared it with my midwife, and decided I’d take it day by day. I’ll concede that I have the advantage of a flexible work schedule that allows me to run whenever I feel the most energetic, but I honestly didn’t think I’d still want to run at this point.
When so many of my familiar actions and postures have been inevitably altered (sleep positions, pulling my knees up to my chest, bending over to tie my shoes…), it’s nice to feel like I’m carrying myself completely “normal” for half an hour. We’ll see how many more miles baby Graham and I will log together…
*Disclaimer: the photo above was taken 3 weeks ago. my belly is considerably bigger now.