Hello! I’m back with another (perhaps final?) “running while pregnant” blog update. I had all these grand plans to start blogging regularly (the best prenatal workout clothes! easy weeknight recipes!), but then life got in the way and I never quite got around to writing. But in the spirit of continuity, I’m going to try and document running throughout this entire pregnancy. I have 5-6 weeks left, so I’m assuming I’ll have a bit more to say. But for now…I will start off with…dang, running has gotten so much harder!
Photo from week 26, when I still felt normal-ish. Relevant because this is my fav 2nd/3rd tri running gear: maternity tank top from GapFit, maternity hoodie from Old Navy, maternity capris from Old Navy. Now at 34+ weeks, I’m really struggling to find shorts that fit my bump and don’t ride up. Ugh.
I noticed changes right from the very beginning – I felt out of breath and fatigued beginning in the first trimester – but now when I look back on those first few months, those complaints were minor. I didn’t really start to notice major changes until around the half way mark (~20 weeks), when the pressure on my bladder got to be annoying. But even then, I was able to log 20 miles a week without much trouble and fit in a 6-7 mile “long run” most weeks. Somewhere around the start of the third trimester (week 28), things started to go downhill, very quickly. I knew running would get harder, but I don’t think I expected the decline to happen so suddenly, so drastically. I ran a 5k at the start of week 28 and felt pretty great. All of the miles were close to 8:15 and felt easy! And then a few days later, I headed out for my usual 7-mile long run and that seemed to be the turning point. I felt okay during the run, but afterward it felt like I had just logged 20 miles…instead of 7. My back hurt and I felt really fatigued for the remainder of the day. At that point, I just sort of accepted that I’d need to slow down and start running less. But in my mind, that meant…maybe making my long run 5-6 miles…maybe slowing down to 9:30 or 9:45 pace….instead, my pace and distance had a very precipitous drop-off in weeks 29-34. I suppose it’s due to a combination of a growing baby (as big as a cantaloupe now?!), a growing uterus pulling on ligaments and muscles (ouch), and overall weight gain (20lbs and counting). I think going forward, my limit may be 2-3 milers, probably around 10:30 minute pace (or slower).
I know I’m lucky to have made it this far (believe me, I know), but I can’t help feeling frustrated with how difficult running has become. I think to myself…”I used to run 60,70, 80 miles a week”….”I’ve run 6-minute miles”…”I’ve worked so hard to keep up my running routine!”….so why does 2 miles at 10+ minute pace feel so hard?! At the beginning of the pregnancy, I enjoyed having the pressure off…and just running slowly and for fun. But now? As I get bigger and more uncomfortable, I’m really starting to look forward to running after pregnancy, which I know, will not be a piece of cake, but still! The little melon will be on the outside, instead of crammed between my bladder and my lungs. That’s got to be a little better, right?
Here’s a shot of the maternity support belt that I never really used all that much. It just didn’t really seem to help (and it made me sweaty and itchy). The lululemon groovy run shorts and random green reebok zip-up from 2010 proved to be pretty clutch though. They were pre-pregnancy gear that managed to
fit stretch all the way through 33 weeks! I have no idea where I got that tank top (maybe Target?), but it was nice and long and is still covering the bump.
Some notes on 2nd/3rd Trimester Running: Weeks 26-34
Week 26- Pretty uneventful, some usual round ligament pain, but more or less okay. 19 miles + prenatal yoga
Week 27- Ran the Salem “April Fool’s Day” race (recap below), 20 miles
Week 28- Ran the Bacon Hill Bonanza 5k (recap below), 21 miles + prenatal yoga
Week 29- This week included my last 7 mile long run, womp, womp. 20 miles + prenatal yoga
Week 30- I am reallllyyyy starting to feel pregnant, started walking more this week, 14 miles running + 6 miles walking + prenatal yoga
Week 31- 13 miles running + 9 miles walking
Week 32- Ran a 5-miler this week, that might be the last time that happens, 14 miles running + 10 miles walking + prenatal yoga
Week 33- Felt pretty blah all week (generally just feeling very pregnant), ran the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Rock ‘n Run 5k (recap below), 13 miles running + 8 miles walking + prenatal yoga
Week 34- Running/walking/life is now becoming so hard, it’s comical. 9 miles running (3 x 3 mile runs) + 7 miles walking . Also attended an 8+ hour all-day childbirth preparation class, which was an endurance sport in itself.
3 x 5K: Racing While Pregnant
First off, let me say that when it comes to racing while pregnant, I’m not actually racing. My only goal throughout the 5 x 5ks that I’ve run is to finish feeling good (and perhaps run a smidge faster than I normally would). I just never felt comfortable with the idea of actually racing for a fast time…I knew I wasn’t going to PR, so I just sort of figured, what’s the point of risking it? That being said, I still really liked lining up and enjoying the experience with the little one and my husband (who has been such a good sport, and has run every race with me)!
The three 5ks I ran in the 3rd trimester were mostly fun, although much harder than the two I ran in the 1st trimester!
April 2, 2016 at 27 weeks- 27:27 (8:50 pace). This was a very hilly race, but besides some round ligament twinges during mile 2, I felt good.
April 9, 2016 at 28 weeks- 25:44 (8:17 pace); 2nd in my age group. I definitely held back during this race, which was probably for the best. I still can’t believe I felt this good 6 weeks ago. Feels more like 6 months ago. Highlight was winning a cookie pie for being 2nd in the 30-34 age group (competition was not very stiff, heh)!
May 15, 2016 at 33 weeks- 29:12 (9:24 pace). I was actually pretty nervous about this race, considering how slow and blah I’ve been feeling. I was pumped to finish under 30 minutes and have a tiny kick at the finish. My back felt twinge-y during the run though, didn’t love that.
The toughest thing about running while pregnant is knowing whether the aches and pains I feel are normal/okay or not. In the latter half of pregnancy, I’m pretty sure all women feel uncomfortable – backache, round ligament pain, bladder pressure, etc. With running, there’s always the question in the back of your mind, “Is that twinge normal? Am I doing too much?” I don’t want to over do it, but I don’t want to spend the next 6 weeks lying on the couch feeling sorry for myself, you know? It’s stressful! So far I think I’ve done a decent job at balancing caution and willpower. I’ve started taking walk breaks during runs and if things continue to go down hill, I may switch completely to walking. That may be tomorrow, that may be next week, it’s hard to tell. But even if I don’t run another step during this pregnancy, I’ll be proud of myself for getting to 34 weeks.
I’ve asked myself throughout this pregnancy….why is running so important to me? And I think the answer is long (and complicated). In short, I think the main reasons are: 1) I strongly believe exercise (not just running) during pregnancy is a good thing, 2) But I don’t really like doing other types of exercise. Walking is okay and I soldiered through 12 weeks of prenatal yoga classes because I know it was good for me, but to be honest, other types of exercise (elliptical, stationary bike, barre workouts, etc) just feel kind of blah to me, and 3) I’m just really stubborn. Years before I met my husband or thought seriously about having kids, I knew I wanted to run as long as possible while pregnant. I think part of it is because running while pregnant is still sort of considered…odd (maybe not amongst other runners, but lolz at the comments I get from non-runners). I don’t mean to inflate what I’m doing….slowly jogging a few miles a week is no spectacular feat, I get that. But I feel like in some small way, running while pregnant is a way to show other women that it’s a possibility (as long as you feel up to it and your doctor gives the okay, of course). Anyway! That’s the end of my semi-coherent thoughts. I’ve been pondering my post-baby return to running a lot lately, but I think I’ll save that for another day.
Next post will either recap weeks 35-40 OR maybe I’ll just talk about having a newborn. Stay tuned.