I got a 3 miler in today to round out the week's mileage with a whopping total of 10 miles. At least it's double digits.
To be honest, at this point, it is getting harder and harder to motivate myself to get my measly 2 and 3 mile runs done, and while I know that for many of you, a 10 miler is a mid-week run, for me completing a 3 miler right now brings with it the same sense of challenge and accomplishment that any long run used to. I knew months ago that this would be the hardest part of my pregnancy to run through -- not only because of the advancing discomforts of running in the 3rd trimester, but also because my 3rd trimester coincides with summer, in FL -- however, as long as I can still get runs in 3-4 days a week, I want to keep it up.
I have to have my own reasons for that because research demonstrates mixed results about how exercising during pregnancy helps with delivery and post-partum recovery, so even though some studies suggest that women who exercise strenuously throughout pregnancy enjoy shorter, easier labor and faster post-partum recovery, there is no conclusive data to say that it definitively does. So a pregnant runner, like myself, has to have her own reasons to continue doing this. Here are mine:
1. It helps relieve stress and anxiety.
Anticipating a first child is stressful because there's just so much I don't know and can't fully predict or prepare for. These things range from things relatively small in perspective (financial concerns) to things pretty large in perspective (will something go wrong in labor? will she be healthy?) to things in between (how will breastfeeding go?). But running has always helped me mentally and emotionally deal with the things that burden my thoughts, so it continues to do its job with these worries as well.
2. It helps with minor aches and pains.
At this point in pregnancy, a woman's lower back, hips and legs really start to ache. And I'm no different, but I find that running, and the prenatal yoga I try to include a few times a week, help keep these aches and pains to a minimum so far.
3. It's not just good for me.
It's good for the baby as well. And in this research, the evidence is pretty conclusive: A baby in utero pretty much experiences the same physical advantages of exercise that the mother does -- increased oxygen and blood flow and increased cardiac health in the form of a lower fetal heart rate. Also, some research even indicates that the mental and emotional benefits that I enjoy from running (like reduced stress and a general feeling of happiness and optimism) transfer to the baby while in utero as well.
4. It's bad ass.
I have run a marathon, but nothing feels quite as much like an accomplishment as running a 3 miler when 30 weeks pregnant. Seriously, it's like the pinnacle of toughness. And sorry guys, I don't know if there's any distance you can complete that will impress me as much as a woman who is running in the 3rd trimester of her pregnancy.
5. It just plain feels good.
When I'm running, and I can feel my heart pounding and the blood coursing through my veins, and my breath is steady with the exertion, I feel strong and healthy. And when I finish, sweaty and spent, I feel like even if I don't accomplish anything else in the course of the day, I have accomplished this. And that feels significant. Plus, I continue to feel good after a run in the same way that running has always made me feel good. And I can eat an Ice Cream Snickers and not feel a trace of guilt!