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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Running while Pregnant: The Basics

More and more women are making a conscious decision to stay as active and healthy as they can be during pregnancy. It's not uncommon to see pregnant women of all belly sizes walking, working out at the gym, or running. 

running while pregnant- thumbs up!However, I've noticed that most women are also unsure about what they can do during pregnancy. Once they are assured, by their doctor of course, that physical activity is safe; they are unsure about how to go the distance.

This list is by no means exhaustive; just a few things that have stood out to me as I ran during my pregnancy with my daughter and now during this pregnancy.

*Please make sure that you clear any and all physical activity with your doctor*

You Should Already Be a Runner - If you weren't already running before you got pregnant, I wouldn't start now. Running is hard. Running while pregnant is even harder. If you want to be active, start walking. Ask your doctor for options that are safe for you and your munchkin.
If you are an already established runner - keep it up! At 20 weeks, I'm running roughly the same amount of mileage I was before I became pregnant. It takes me a whole lot longer to cover the distance but I'm getting it done. 
The key for me is the long run. Once I get started and complete a few miles, I don't find it difficult to go long and slow. My shorter weekday runs are harder because I'm usually trying to get back in time for my husband to leave for work.

Ditch your watch - Unless you are an elite runner, you will not be setting any PR's while pregnant. The goal here is to stay active, burn off those extra "I just had to have that _______" calories, and maintain a sense of who you other then a baby incubator. 
I'm still using my Garmin to keep track of my distance. Just recently, I switched my screens so I see the time of day and not the time elapsed. It's much better for my self esteem.

Running Clothes - In the beginning stages of your pregnancy those cute Lululemon tanks tops will still look cute. As your pregnancy progresses, they just won't cut it. You'll probably be able to keep wearing your favorite shorts or pants but shirts are another story. 
At 20 weeks, I'm still able to wear my loose fitted running shirts but those days are rapidly passing. During laundry time, I've started scouting out my husband's running shirt collection. Even his men's mediums will give my belly more room and prevent a draft.
If you're not blessed with a husband that runs, you can wear your shirts for as long as its comfortable and decent. After that, you could scope out Goodwill or even wear a (gasp!) cotton t shirt. 

Shoes - I wouldn't recommend wearing shoes that have a ton of miles on them if you're running while pregnant. Things are already creaky and funky and old shoes will not help your cause.

Water -  As a pregnant runner expect to consume an ocean full on a daily basis.

Have a Potty Plan - This is vital. You WILL have to go to the bathroom while running. Maybe even more then once. Especially if your baby lives on top of your bladder.
Make sure you know where the nearest bathrooms are located on your route. If all else fails there is always a bush. It wouldn't hurt to carry some TP in a baggie that you can ditch at the nearest trash can.

Naps - If you run while pregnant, you will need to nap. Maybe not everyday but at least once or twice a week. I joked yesterday that I only have a certain amount of energy to expend everyday and working out or running in the morning uses it all up. By the afternoon, I'm pooped. Thankfully, I can nap. If you can't, make sure you are getting enough sleep at night - even if you have to go to bed before the rest of the world. 
Funny Family Ecard: I love all of my children equally. Except for the one that naps. I love that one more.

Maternity belt - when I first shared my crazy yet fabulous baby news with my online running group, my friend Shelley, an avid runner, told me I needed to get a maternity belt. For the month I had it before I lost it, it was very helpful. My lower back has been bothering me during this pregnancy and the belt gave me the support I needed. 
If I still can't find mine, which I'm sure I put in a "safe place" somewhere, I'm going to get another one because I think it will be the key to keeping me moving during the later weeks. 

Prenatal Yoga & Massages - Stretching works wonders for the pregnant body. Having someone rub those stretched muscles is even better. I recommend both VERY highly. 
I try to do yoga at least once a week. I use a video that I ordered from Amazon and I have also used YouTube videos. Again, use common sense. If you've never done yoga before, I wouldn't start while pregnant. You can google gentle stretches and start small. 
A good prenatal massage is worth the time and money. After 20 weeks or so, I try to get one once a month. It really helps with the little aches and pains that pop up during pregnancy. 

Most importantly: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND BABY! If you're tired, take it easy. If something doesn't feel "right" or "funny" tell someone. Logging a 3 mile run is not nearly as important as taking care of that amazing little person in your belly. 

Happy Running Mommies!

Related posts: Running @ 18 weeks pregnant & Running @ 20 weeks pregnant

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