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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

FAQs: Running While Pregnant

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.


chia said...

I'm ashamed that I had to wait for you to get knocked up before I could have the proud moment of knowing I could beat you in a foot race.

Great post Jess!

sarah said...

thank you for that! when i do get pregnant, i definitely want to keep running! it looks challenging but you make it sound so doable. i am sure you will be rewarded by an easier birthing experience and will come back even stronger a la paula radcliffe!

Lily on the Road said...

Interesting post, but promise me you won't be out running, go into labour, squat behind a bush, drop baby Nora into a hamper and continue your run...

d.a.r. said...

I seriously adore you. This is so inspiring, and I can't wait to hear more about your journey. I hope that I can keep running while preggers :)

Casey said...

Nice post! I really wanted to keep running now that I'm pregnant, but the 1st trimester seriously sucked it all out of me! Now that I'm into T2, I hope to resume the jog. Thanks for your inspiration! Keep going!

Anonymous said...

Very inspiring! When I get pregnant I would love to continue running and you are an encouragement that it is still do-able.

X-Country2 said...

All great stuff! You're my pregnancy hero. :o)

Jogger said...

This is a great post. I love seeing pregnant runners! I ran my 10K last weekend with my 5mths pregnant best friend, and I was shocked by how many people thought it was "strange" to be running while pregnant. You're still the same person...just a pregnant version of yourself.

There was a woman at last weekend's race who was 8 months pregnant, and she was fast as hell. Surprised everyone!

Kristen said...

Great post! I had many of those questions. You are doing so good. I hope I can keep up running while pregnant!

Viper said...

Kudos to you.

Here's my question: Does running help the baby develop? Are you breeding the next Ryan Hall?

Anonymous said...

Keep up the great work. YOu're amazing.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I found your blog through someone on babycenter.com (I recently posted on the August 2009 email group that I was still running at 24 weeks preggo...) Anyways, I love your blog!

This past entry is great, your workouts/mileage/speed are exactly where I am at too and I feel so lucky to be healthy enough to keep up what I love to do. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I too can keep running up until my due date in early August.

Keep up the great work :)


TNTcoach Ken said...

Hey, I wanted to ask about how it affects your bowling stride and how good a beer taste after a run in the warmer temps.......... Ha

kristen said...

Cool post. When I lived in Virginia Beach there was a woman who ran through the same trail adn I and she ran all throughout her pregnancy. In fact, she though running helped the delivery becuase for her first - she didn't run throughout, however her second - she ran the whole time and it was a much more positive experience for her.

I know your body must be working OT already to feed and grow Norah, so I admire your diligence and stamina. It's probably like pounding out a 10 or 11 miler for a non prego huh?

aron said...

thats for answering all these ?s :) definitely all things i have been curious about!

Marci said...

This is good info, I have wondered some of those very things. Thx for sharing!

MCM Mama said...

Thanks for sharing. I didn't run with either of my pregnancies (opting for the elliptical and bike with #1 and chasing a 3 year old with #2 LOL), so it's interesting to read.

kelsalynn said...

Good info. Just do me a favor- repost this in oh, ... about 5-7 years. THANKS!

: )


D said...

I love your blog, and I wanted to show you this article I think you would find interesting: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html

Nikki said...

Great post - I get asked the same questions all the time. I love knowing there are others out there still running and I think it's fantastic that you're running steady at the pace you are. I'm ashamed to say I've slowed down much more than that! :o)

Sarah said...

Hi! Just found your blog. This is great!

Keep up the good work!

Jessica said...

You know right before you wrote this I was thinking I was going to post and let you know how awesome you are for keeping it up. I run and am currently training for a marathon-woohoo- May 24th. We plan to start trying for a baby by the end of the summer. You are an inspiration. I hope to have the dedication and push through the tired and sick days to go for a nice run! I know it will be worth every minute. Cheers! (with some water, of course) ;)

LESLEY said...

thanks so much for your post! i was googling on "running while pregnant" and found your blog and love it. i just ran a half marathon while pregnant (i didn't know i was pregnant yet), and am looking forward to keeping running going for as long as i can!

it's so good to hear from somebody who is doing it, i don't know anybody who is in the same situation!

N.D. said...

you're doing great! keep it up! I was able to run until 2 days before my boy was born

rebecca58103 said...

This is great, thank you! I was searching for advice on this issue. I run and just found out I am pg and felt so panicky while running today I sort of freaked out that I was hurting the baby. I will certainly try again.