First of all, thank you for all your "congrats" and good wishes: It's all very much appreciated!
So, yesterday, I promised that I had more to say about this whole running-while-pregnant-business, and I wasn't kidding. I have a LOT to say on the subject, and I can pretty much promise I'll have a lot to say on it for...oh...the next 7 months. But let me begin today from the beginning:
Before I got pregnant, there had never been a doubt in my mind that when I one day got knocked up that I would continue to run. I had read some about it, and everything seemed to confirm that it was a perfectly healthy activity to continue. Of course, there are some basic criteria that most experts asks women to follow: For one, a woman should already be a runner. It's not advisable to start new, strenuous activities when pregnant. Secondly, a woman should only continue her running if she has no indicators of a high-risk pregnancy (ex: previously existing medical conditions, high blood pressure, previous miscarriages, etc), and lastly, should any pain, extreme discomfort or risk to the pregnancy occur, women should immediately halt their running routine.
All of that makes excellent sense.
I have been running consistently for 3 and 1/2 years, but even in the years preceding this commitment to running, I was always active. I have no pre-existing medical conditions (I've never even had blood drawn, never stayed overnight in the hospital, nothing), I take no prescription medication, my blood pressure is perfect, my resting HR is low, my weight is within a very healthy range, my genetic history is like a straight-A report card, and I have never been pregnant before. So, I'm the ideal candidate for a preggo-runner, and like I said, I never questioned whether or not I would continue to run.
Until I saw the doctor.
Like I mentioned yesterday, 2 days after I found out I was pregnant I went ahead and ran the Palm Beach Half Marathon. My time was slower than average, but I finished and felt good after finishing. 3 days after that, I went in for my first doctor appointment. Everything checked out excellent, and as I describe above, I'm in excellent health and I have no indicators of a high-risk pregnancy. So as the doctor is telling me how superior my health is (okay, maybe I added the "superior" part), I ask: "So, it's fine for me to keep running, right?"
Her response: "Oh, no! I don't like pregnant women to run."
I was shocked and asked her, "Why not?"
"Well," she said, "It's just that there's such a risk that you'll fall down. That, and the pounding. I mean, that's hard on your knees anyway, but all that jarring will be hard on you as you get bigger, so I just don't like running."
Now, if you're like me, you heard (or read, in your case) two things there that should set off red alerts: 1.) "That's hard on your knees" and 2.) "I just don't like running." We've all heard the "you're gonna ruin your knees!" bologna, and we've all read that decades of studies have not shown any evidence that running wears down your joints. If anything, running improves joint and bone health (and the thing that really hurts your knees? obesity! anyway, sorry, that's my brief rant). Secondly, it was clear to me that this doctor -- who is in her late 60s, maybe a bit "old school" -- simply regards the sport of running with suspicion.
So, I said: "I've been running for years, and I can't imagine giving it up."
She sighed, "Well, I just advise against it, but if you ask any one of the other doctors here in the practice, they may contradict my advice and tell you it's perfectly fine to continue running. I just don't advise it."
Despite the fact that her last statement made it clear that her stance on running while pregnant was merely opinion and that others within the practice had differing opinions, I left her office that day very upset. I am a well-educated, reasonable woman, capable of thinking for herself and forming her own opinions on a subject, yet the authority figure in a white coat's contradictory opinion had sent all my preconceived notions about running while I was pregnant out the window.
I went home that day and cried.
Then I went and got a Chipotle burrito and felt a little better.
Then I cried a little more.
Then I decided to go for a run.
While I ran, I began to feel better. My head cleared, I felt less stressed, I no longer felt anxious about what she had said and implied, and I came to a simple, yet illuminating conclusion: In the course of pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing, I am going to get a LOT of advice and opinion. And everyone is convinced that their method is the right one. What I have to do is consider all the options, the evidence, and my own lifestyle, and then I have to choose what's right for ME, MY baby, and MY family. So for me, choosing to not run just wasn't an option.
So, I finished that run and felt a million times better, and that demonstrated for me why I need to continue to run while pregnant. Sure, running helps me maintain physical fitness, and without it, I may not have some of those great health stats I previously listed. But more than that, running helps me maintain my mental health: It helps clear my head, de-stress me, and it just plain makes me happy. When I finish a run, I feel GOOD.
Therefore, doesn't it make sense that if running makes me feel happy and healthy that this will carry over into having a happy and healthy pregnancy? I think so. So, I'm gonna keep running. Obviously, if there is ever a risk to the baby, or if it becomes too uncomfortable or painful, then I will quit, but for now, everything is fine so I'm gonna continue to "ruin my knees."