I do not know what it feels like to be pregnant, and I plan on that statement holding true for at least a few more years. But I have listened to my friends as they’ve begun to pull out the maternity pants and post ultrasound photos on facebook. The mind-blowing, life-altering, and just plain weird changes that a woman’s body undergoes within nine months affect almost every facet of life, including….take a guess….running!
Since my experience on this topic is limited to say the least, I interviewed several moms here at Running Warehouse. Running moms. Meet Tera and Callie, women who have gone the whole nine yards (twice), and done it in their running shoes. The information they’ve shared is not intended to serve as or replace expert medical advice on the topic, but is a collection of experiences and tips for women who are running, jogging and (eventually) waddling their way into the world of motherhood.
Why did you run during your pregnancies, and what benefits did running provide?
Tera: “Why do I run when I’m not pregnant?? I run ultras, so the sport is a huge part of my life. Running gives me time to think, to be in nature, it keeps me active, and helps me to feel more energized. The additional energy was especially helpful during pregnancy – ‘cause I was tired all the time.”
Callie: “My doctor told me to maintain my normal exercise habits (with healthy boundaries); don’t stop doing something you’ve always done, and don’t begin doing any intense exercise that you never did before pregnancy. I wanted to stay healthy, and be in the best shape I could be.”
How far into your pregnancy did you continue to run?
Tera: “I ran up to eight months with my first, and seven with the second. Pain or discomfort is a good indicator of boundaries. If anything hurts, just stop. Pushing through is not worth causing any problems.”
Callie: “With Nash, my first, I ran until I was six months pregnant. But with my second, Wells, I ran up until the day before I delivered. I was running less than a mile at that point – and really, it was more like a waddle. But I felt ok, took it easy, and it was fine.”
What was your doctor’s advice to you?
Tera: “She told me not to run yourself out of breath (be able to hold a conversation), keep your heart rate under 140, and stop immediately if you experience any pain.”
Callie: “Same here. Listen to your body and don’t push it.”
*Every women and every pregnancy is different; be sure to consult your own doctor regarding a running routine. Individual circumstances often merit varying advice.
At what point in the pregnancy did running begin to feel different?
Tera: “Immediately! Gosh, I was so exhausted…which was the most influential factor for most of the nine months. Later on (2nd and 3rd trimester) my running was affected by weight gain, proportion changes, and loss of balance. You’re much less nimble and have to pay closer attention to foot placement.”
Callie: “Definitely the second trimester. I had more energy then than I did in the first and third, but that’s the time that you start to “pop”, which really affects your gait and body movement.”
What were the greatest challenges you faced?
Tera: “The biggest challenge for me was mental. You’re running, but you’re gaining weight and your physique is declining. That wasn’t the progression that my mind was accustomed to. I had to tell myself that running, at this point, was about being mentally and physically healthy, not seeing results.”
Callie: “The most difficult thing was changing my mentality as well. Under normal circumstances, I push myself during my runs. It was really hard to not do that. I needed to learn how to run and not completely tire myself out.”
How did you adjust your running habits?
Tera: “I stopped creating a schedule and just went by feel. I would run up to 7 miles or so on some days, and less on others, depending on how my body felt.”
Callie: “I kept my runs to about 3 miles, enough to keep me moving but nothing too strenuous,”
Aside from mileage, what other aspects of your routine did you have to adapt?
Tera: “Maternity running clothes….Oh my word! They’re tough to find. I ended up wearing a lot of my husband’s tech tees. Also, I was constantly hungry, so having healthy snacks around was really important.”
Callie: “Make sure you have clothing that isn’t constricting, especially waistbands. I found a lot of decent stuff at Target and Old Navy. And don’t forget about a supportive sports bra – super important. I made sure that I drank a ton of water. I never carry water with me when I run, but I did when I was pregnant.”
Talk to us about post-pregnancy running…when did you start? How was getting back into shape?
Tera: “Running after giving birth was incredible! You feel so much lighter, and while it takes some time, your body will get back into shape if you work at it. After my first, I was out waddling like 3 days after. My second birth was a C-section, and I waited six weeks before running again. I wore the belly band that I had worn during pregnancy for extra security around my abdomen to protect the area that was healing.”
Callie: “Obviously it depends on your delivery experience. Mine were both relatively smooth, and I got back into running pretty quickly. I was out four weeks after my first, and after the second I was jogging within a week. I did a lot of core work early on as well, which was incredibly helpful.”
Final words from both moms: “You’re constantly peeing yourself,” they said with a laugh. “Just be sure to wear black pants!”