Aside from getting the exclamatory question of "You're still running?!" I get a lot of questions about what it's like to run while pregnant. These questions get asked by just about everyone -- friends, family, my co-workers, and even my students -- so I thought these might be questions that the general blogosphere has been pondering as well, and today I figured I'd go ahead and answer a few.
How much/how far/how frequently are you running?
I stick to a 3 mile route these days just because 3 miles is still a comfortable distance, but it feels like I'm still challenging myself and getting a good workout in. And I aim to run 3-4 days a week, so most weeks I am averaging 12 miles. Of course, there are some weeks with a little less and a little more mileage to them, but in general, my average is 12 miles a week.
Do you take walk breaks?
No. I run the entire time, albeit at a slower pace than pre-pregnancy. I stopped wearing the Garmin about 8 weeks ago because looking at the slowing digits was depressing and distracting me from my true aim in this endeavor, but I do occasionally run with Jerry and he wears the Garmin when we go (because I got him hooked on it), and we usually average the 3 miles in 33:30 for an average pace of 11:10 per mile. About 2 minutes per mile slower than what I averaged pre-pregnancy.
Doesn't it hurt your boobs?
At first, yes it kinda did. In the first trimester, my breasts were tender and sensitive, so running didn't feel great on them, but now, ironically, they are bigger but they don't have any of the tenderness that they initially did, so it doesn't bother those sweater puppies at all now.
Does your belly bounce around?
Not yet. Although, I'm sure it must to a certain degree; it's just not perceptible to me. In general, it just feels like this giant, immovable object sticking out in front of me.
Do you wear special running clothes?
Not really. You guys all saw the larger running tops I bought, but my shorts remain the same shorts I wore before I was pregnant, and even my sports bras are the same.
Right now, isn't the running getting harder/more uncomfortable/painful?
This is kinda tricky to answer. From the beginning, running has been more strenuous for me than it ever was pre-pregnancy; even when I ran the Palm Beach HM at 5 weeks, I could tell a big difference in my stamina, and with each passing week, as I grow bigger, it does become more strenuous. Initially, I think running adds an extra level of difficulty because a pregnant body is doing so much exercise already, so adjusting to all the physical changes makes it more difficult. But at this point, I think the greatest challenge is simply carrying the extra weight.
But as far as discomfort or pain, I can't say that running causes either. I definitely don't feel any pain as I run, and yes, there is some added pressure in my middle (but that's really all the time, not just when I'm running), but I wouldn't go so far as to call it uncomfortable.
So to summarize that incredibly vague answer? Harder? Yes. Uncomfortable/painful? No.
Has pregnancy changed how your body recovers after a run?
No, not really. I can still run several days in a row and have no added stiffness or soreness. Of course, I'm keeping my runs short and I run them at a comfortable pace, so I can't really comment on the difference in recovery for a run that truly deserves "recovery" -- ie, a long run, a tempo run, or a speed workout.
Has pregnancy changed how you approach hydration or nutrition in conjunction with running?
Yes and no. Pre-pregnancy I was always good with hydration and I believe I have always eaten a pretty well-balanced diet, so I didn't make too many changes. But of course, when pregnant you need more water, so I have upped my water intake and have cut back on coffee and diet soda (although I do still consume those drinks -- about one of each a day, which the dr says is perfectly fine). The major change to my diet is simple: Additional calories. Obviously, a pregnant body needs more calories per day (about 300 extra a day) to sustain the growing baby, but when I'm exercising, I am burning about that many calories, so I have to be sure to consume enough in the day to accommodate those caloric needs. So essentially? I eat small portions (I get full very fast), frequently.
How long are you going to continue to run during your pregnancy?
As long as I can. Ideally, I'll run up until the day I deliver, but I am also realistic and I know that the months ahead will be the most challenging on my body in general, so I don't want to set unrealistic expectations; still, assuming that I remain in good health and the baby remains in good health, there's no reason for me to stop.