Many people have asked if I plan to keep running while pregnant or if I am able to keep running while pregnant. I am a relatively new runner (it will be 3 years in September) so this is the first time I've run through a pregnancy. Most doctors say that, while picking up running during pregnancy may not be the wisest choice, women who already run can safely continue. My midwife, a runner herself, has encouraged me to keep running as long as I feel comfortable.
The very first symptom I experienced with this pregnancy was fatigue. For six weeks, I could nap twice a day and still fall asleep by 9 o'clock. I am a morning person, though, so by 6 am (or earlier), I was awake. Even my morning sickness held off in the early hours so I maintained my running habit of 3-4 mornings a week. I discovered that on run days, I had more energy--not a lot, but more, nonetheless. The exercise also held off morning sickness until later in the day.
One day early in my pregnancy I woke up to an unexpected heavy downpour. I skipped my run that day and had severe can't-get-off-the-couch morning sickness from morning until I went to bed. I decided to experiment with running every day. Instead of running rotating between shorter (2-3 mile) mid-week runs and a longer (6-8 mile) weekend run, I decided to run 4 miles every day, leaving myself the option of taking a rest day if my body demanded.
an unflattering but realistic photo of me post- run
The other thing I noticed very early on was that my speed was greatly reduced. I went from maintaining an easy 9:40 per mile to pushing to finish an 11 minute mile. This was in the early weeks when most people didn't know I was pregnant and I certainly was not showing. I could not go any faster and it was frustrating. I did some online research and found out that as blood volume increases during pregnancy, the heart understandably works harder. The extra strain on the cardiovascular system affects exercise. It would take a much higher level of exertion to match my pre-pregnancy results. Once I understood this, I felt the pressure melt away. I determined to run for pleasure and health, not speed or results.
Before I was pregnant, Maddie (11) and Owen (9) started expressing interest in running a 5K. Despite running most days myself, the idea of training them while pregnantwas overwhelming. When I found out about a local kids' 1-mile race, it seemed like a good compromise. Several times a week, the three of us went out running together. Maddie took to it easily, but it was a little harder for Owen. One morning I let him know that running the race was his choice and that no one was pressuring him to do it. He replied, "I will run this race."
before a 6 am training run race day
The morning of their race was comfortable, especially in the shade where most of the mile took place. They both pushed and met their goal of running the course without stopping to walk. Maddie crossed the finish line 1 second before Owen, but both of them finished a full minute faster than they had run during any training run!
|crossing the finish line|
While we were watching the race Gavin said to me, "Well, I guess you won't be running a race any time soon."
Actually, I am.
I've not run a race since my spring half-marathon, but I'm ready to jump back into a challenge. My goals won't be lofty, but I have no question I'll finish. I'm running two different 5Ks, about three weeks apart. The cooler mornings of late are getting me excited for fall running!