Running in Pregnancy
The club asked for some of the women to write about a running story, and as I’m currently experiencing a big change in my life as well as running, I thought I’d write something about running in pregnancy.
Is it safe?
The general advice is that if you are already ‘a runner’ then it’s fine to keep going through pregnancy, but it’s probably not the best time to make a start if you didn’t run before. The advice has changed over the last few years, with pregnant women being positively encouraged to exercise and keep fit , rather than just putting your feet up for 9 months (although some of that is fine too!). There’s no definitive advice about how long into the pregnancy you can run, but you should just listen to your body and do what feels right for you. The main 2 pieces of medical advice are that you shouldn’t get too hot, and you shouldn’t get your heart rate too high. Essentially, it’s not the time to try for a PB or be racing. I’ve put the link to some articles at the bottom of this post that say more about this.
Pregnancy is a strange time generally, but being able to keep running through it has been really important to me. I know pregnancy and labour can be physically tough, so by keeping fit I’m hoping to be in the best possible shape for it. I’ve been really lucky in that I haven’t had any sickness or aches (so far!), so that’s helped. Also it’s really important to keep doing things you enjoy; sadly my other favourite pastimes are drinking lots of craft ale and eating stinky cheese, so I really needed something to keep me going! It’s been hard at times, particularly for the first few months where I didn’t feel or look any different but had to take it easy – it was quite frustrating having to put myself in a slower heat at the Chorlton Classic in a bid to not get carried away. Once I passed the 3 month mark and could start telling people then it was much easier, and was happy to run in slower groups and not run as far. It’s been sad missing out on the cross country season as this is one of my favourite running activities, but I decided for me it wasn’t worth the risk of getting pushed and trampled. Plus although I’m not the fastest runner I am quite competitive and like to go in all guns blazing at XC, so tootling around with women constantly overtaking me just wouldn’t feel right! I’ve still been able to make it to a few matches to bring cake and loon though, almost as fun. Ultimately you’ve just got to do what’s right for you. It has been hard at times watching people I used to be a similar pace to going from strength to strength and getting PBs, and missing out on taking part in races and hard training sessions like track etc, but I’ve just got to remember that it’s not forever and I’ve got a pretty important task to be getting on with for the moment! So I’ve been enjoying doing social runs, coming to club when I can, running with my husband, and doing parkrun.
• Have fun! Remember, running should be fun (this applies outside of pregnancy too!) – don’t put too much pressure on yourself and just try to enjoy the simple things, like being outside, running with friends etc. I’ve also enjoyed not running – ie when it’s a miserable rainy evening, previously I would have dragged myself out as I’d usually be in training for something , but it has been quite nice not to ‘have to’ go out, and instead run when I actually wanted to.
• Get some new supportive kit. My leggings got quite tight very quickly; although you’ll only need them for ~6 months it’s worth investing in a pair of maternity leggings. They are not only more comfy but also provide some support for the bump. I got some good ones from Gap with a 40% off voucher. It’s also probably worth investing in sports bra in a size up – as you’ll probably need this for a while after the baby is born too…
• Cross training. I’m a cyclist too and made it to about 5 months still cycling to work. The winter ice got the better of me and I’ve decided to stop now, but it was great to still be on my bike for a while (I hate the bus!). I actually started swimming lessons around the time I got pregnant – I’m still absolutely rubbish but it’s nice to be in the water, and I think if you’re a more competent swimmer than me then it’s a good way to fit in some non-impact cardio. Also I have been doing some antenatal Pilates classes, which has been good for teaching me safe exercises and moves (as some twisting movements and exercises which involve lying flat on your back are advised against in pregnancy).
• Set different goals. As all hope of PBs has gone out of the window I set myself a different target – making it to my 100 parkrun milestone, which I achieved in January. This was great as an achievable target, and parkrun is a nice short distance and a social run, so was an easy way to keep motivated.
I’m 30 weeks pregnant now, and I have definitely gotten slower, although some of this will be down to lack of training and the extra weight I’ve gained rather than just from being pregnant. I hope to keep going for a bit longer but I am noticing increased pressure so I’m just going to see how it goes. I’m on the core team at Sale Water parkrun so I’m planning to make myself useful by volunteering and tail-walking over the next 2 months, and hopefully reaching my 25 time volunteer milestone before the baby comes.
After that, obviously the plan is to have a quick, easy, pain-free birth but sadly that’s not a given. I’d like to get back to running as soon as I am able to, whilst recognising that there is no rush and it might take time. I’d love to do a bit of summer trail running and take advantage of the light evenings, and then hopefully be fit enough to take part in the winter cross country season. I’ve also got myself prepared and bought a pram that is suitable for a bit of running, so after 6 months I hope to get out and about with the baby in the buggy!
Might be a bit too ambitious but I’ve had to defer this year’s London Marathon GFA place (takes place 4 days after my due date in 2018!), so it would be amazing if I could work up to doing it in April 2019. The dream would be to get back into shape and smash out a PB and get close to the 3:30 mark, but realistically just making it to the start line would be a massive achievement.
I’d love to hear from other female runners who have gone through pregnancy, and to get any top tips for getting back into running after childbirth, and whilst trying to juggle running with looking after a small human. Wish me luck!
A little update
Since writing this article things have moved on a little bit, my baby boy was born!! He arrived very early at 34 weeks, weighing 5lb and 6oz. He’s called Fran.
Bit of a shock, I was meant to be tailwalking at parkrun on Saturday morning but went into labour in early hours of Friday night! So that’s the end of my running in pregnancy then…!