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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Reasons to Run

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.

Why?

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!

23 comments:

Marlene said...

Those are some great reasons. I 100% agree with number 4.

RunningLaur said...

3 miles in the 3rd trimester is pretty much the most impressive thing ever - you've convinced me.

Just think, in a little while you'll have a happy baby to run with, and you'll be able to drink beer. Sounds like you'll have it made :)

AKA Alice said...

I love reason 4 too!

runner26 said...

all good reasons!! as long as you feel good, it seems like the right thing to do.

HEATHER said...

keep it up!! I had to quit running at 20 weeks, but I walked as fast as my legs would take me for 3-5 miles a day up until I delivered. From the start of labor till the baby was born was less than 6 hours. And recovery was 100X easier than with my first (I didn't exercise that pregnancy). I totally believe in the benefits of exercising while pregnant!

Jamoosh said...

Um, how about putting up with a pregnant woman for thirty weeks?

Oh! Did I really say that. Take my commenting privileges away ASAP.

Marcy said...

Any amount of mileage while pregnant is bad ass. Man I don't think I could ever do it.

Junebug said...

i just think you are amazing.

thats all.

carry on.

:)

TNTcoach Ken said...

TMI............TMI. You win.....

Paul said...

Seriously you deserve huge props for running while pregnant! Especially this late in the game. That's a lot of work..

D10 said...

30 weeks already. You don't have too much longer at all.

Way to keep running. I think the most important part is that it makes you feel good.

Erin said...

I know you will have an easy labor and shorter recovery. I am the pinnacle of what a non-exercising preggo experience will be like (long labor, slow recovery). Now that I am on the exercise wagon, I plan to continue and actually hope pregnancy will be better on round 2. No, I am not pregnant now but putting myself in a healthy state prior to it rather than during.

BTW, I agree. Men can't compete with a pregnant runner. That IS bad ass!

kelsalynn said...

There's a pie in the can in the vegetable section, and then there's one in the baking section that has lots of sugar usually added or has syrup in it. You don't want that kind- you want just a straight mushed up pumpkin in a can!

Carolina John said...

hang in there Jess. Shorter distances, slower pace, i'm amazed you are even still getting out there.

Krissy said...

I feel the same way about exercising, especially running & swimming a mile in the pool while pregnant! Exercising in general is the only thing that keeps me balanced and feeling like I can get through anything if I put my mind to it :) Keep up the hard work!

LeahC said...

I'm really enjoying reading your blog and impressed with how long you have kept up the running in your pregnancy. I'm currently 14 weeks pregnant and running about 13 miles a week right now and hope to keep running up throughout my pregnancy. Nice job on keeping up the mileage while so far along! It's really inspiring to read.

Kate_Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viper said...

Great reasons to keep at it. Though, with all this running, baby is going come out hungry and thirsty.

MCM Mama said...

You are amazing! And so close now!

Kevin said...

All great reasons

Nikki said...

LOVE these reasons! I feel exactly the same way! It is definitely getting tougher, but I feel so fortunate I'm still able to run, and with my doc's awesome encouragement, I'll keep it up as long as I can. Way to go!

aron said...

i love your reasons :)

sRod said...

My fav is #4!

Keep kicking ass Jess!