Friday, February 26, 2016

Running while Pregnant- My Experience

Running while Pregnant - My Experience

Ariel runDisney New Balance shoes- my motivation for post-baby running

When I first found out I was pregnant, I had lofty dreams of continuing to run my entire pregnancy. Not only would it keep me in shape (and maybe give me some extra wiggle room to eat more ice cream), but it would also lead to a faster recovery after the baby was born and an easier time getting back into running.

Off to a rocky start...
I admit I wasn't starting off my pregnant running at a great point: after the WDW Marathon in January, I really lost my mojo and desire to run. I struggled with marathon training and I had a lot of anxiety going into the race. I did finish, but just barely. It was one of the hardest things I've done, both mentally and physically, but I am so glad I did it. I had the post-marathon burn out. 

After the marathon, I continued to run, but very infrequently. I think I ran maybe 10 times in 3 months? One of those times was the Santa Cruz 10k that I ran with my friend and her almost 5 month old. We ran the race non-stop and kept a pretty good pace, only stopping at the end of mile 6 when the baby got fussy. Inspiration right there!

I continued to run infrequently, a couple miles here and there, but mostly focused on strength training. For me, the key to easier running comes with a stronger core. Then I found out we were expecting. As you can see, not a very strong baseline to start with.  

The bad...
As everyone knows, your body changes a lot with pregnancy. I never realized how much of an impact it would have and how soon it would affect me. Almost immediately my running changed. Maybe it was the first trimester exhaustion or all the extra blood my body was pumping, but my pace was slower and I couldn't run non-stop anymore. I switched to intervals and was able to continue doing my 2-3 mile runs a few times a week. I suppose I could have stopped and done something else, like prenatal yoga, but I had the Disneyland 10k coming up!

15 Weeks

16 Weeks in my For Two Fitness maternity tank top

The good...

The Disneyland 10k was amazing. I was nervous that I was going to be swept- I averaged a 14 minute mile (Disney cut-off is 16), but I never got past a 4 miles on my training. That extra 2 miles was really haunting me! I asked my friend and fellow running blogger, Lena, if I could run with her. She has the experience- she ran the Dumbo Double Dare (both the 10k and half marathon) pregnant just a couple years ago. My brother was also along for the ride to keep an eye on me. With these two for support, I knew I'd make it to the finish line.

I also finally met Krissy in person! Yay for pregnant Ursulas!
She was about 2 months ahead of me AND she completed both the 10k and half!

I also made a new running friend- Heather!

17 weeks and baby's first medal!

Seeing all my friends run the Disneyland Half while I sat on the sidelines stung a little. I really wanted to be out there and to earn that medal (the DL 1/2 holds a special place in my heart as my first race and first half), but I knew it wouldn't be safe. I would have pushed myself too hard and probably been more disappointed if/when I got swept. All in all, I still had a great time. Looking forward to the diaper dashes in the future! :)

A little hiatus...
After the Disneyland 10k, life got busy! We bought a house and moved- exercise was the last thing on my mind. I managed to get in yoga here and there and some evening walks. As I packed, I reminisced over past races. 

I think part of the reason why I stopped running was that it just wasn't the same. Like eating your favorite ice cream and suddenly it tasted different. (Can you tell a pregnant woman wrote this?) I was frustrated running had become so difficult, discouraged that I would never get back to where I once was. As I got bigger and the scale showed a number I've never seen before, I pushed running more and more out of my mind.

Pretty much how I felt.

Turning point...
The weeks ticked by. As usual, I'd eat my breakfast by the front window and see people in the neighborhood running or jogging. One morning I realized that I really missed running, no matter how slow or pokey I was. Was my mojo was back?! :D

So at 23 weeks, I put on my Running for Two tank, my favorite Sweaty Band (from Wine & Dine aka Splash n' Dash 2014), and laced up my shoes. I didn't go far, just a mile and a half, and my pace was slow, but I enjoyed every moment of it. 

23 Weeks

I would have gone farther, but I started to get really itchy. Legs, feet, belly, the whole deal. This used to happen to me when I didn't exercise for a long time- something about the sudden increase in blood circulation makes me itchy. It goes away after a week or so, but it's still annoying. Has this ever happened to you?
(I know itchiness can be a sign of issues with pregnancy, but it goes away within 15 minutes and I've talked to my doctor about it.)

Running again!
I tried to get out everyday and the itchiness is cleared up. My pace was still slow, but at least I was getting out there. Even got a few stares from people in my neighborhood.

24 Weeks

The final break...
Around 26 weeks, I started to get some cramping when I would run. It wasn't painful or intense, but more like all my stomach muscles were tightening up. After talking to my doctor, she said they could be Braxton Hicks contractions and recommend that I switch to more low impact exercises. Since then, I've been doing prenatal yoga (great for aches and pains in my back) and the elliptical. 

I'm convinced that staying active right up until the day I delivered really aided in how short my labor was and how quickly I'm healing. My body is returning to pre-pregnancy pretty quickly. At about 2 weeks post partum, I'm just 3 lbs away from pre-pregnancy weight and my belly is pretty much gone. Granted, I didn't have wash board abs to begin with. ;)

This "forced" rest period/break has given me a lot of inspiration and motivation to get back out and run. I'm eager to get back to training and push myself more than I had in the past. I'm holding off until my 4 week post partum appointment to get the all clear from my doctor. We have a BOB jogging stroller and I can't wait to take our little guy running when he's big enough. :) 

Did you run during pregnancy? How was your experience?


  1. Sounds like you were smart to listen to your body and take some time off. I took some time off after the marathon this year and am eager to get back out there and start running again! How fun that you now have a "diaper dash" to look forward too in the future!

    1. Amazing how a break can leave you refreshed and excited again! Definitely looking forward to the diaper dashes. I hope he likes to run Disney as much as I do. ;)