From my experience, if you are having a normal, low-risk pregnancy, running poses no risk to the baby or mother. If your body is used to running before pregnancy, by all means keep doing it as long as it works for you. Listening to your body is important when you are an athlete but it is even more important as a pregnant athlete. And each athlete and each pregnancy is different. So pay attention and don't compare yourself to people you know or even what worked last time. And of course, let your doctor know what activities you are doing. During my first visit I told my OB/GYN my plan to keep running. She was very supportive of my running, which was great. I would say, you aren't asking your doctor's permission to run, just let them know so as they monitor you and the baby during pregnancy they are aware.
Any necessary gear to make it easier? Or nice-to-haves?
A REALLY good, supportive sports bra. Your breasts can be much more sensitive during pregnancy so make sure you keep your girls happy. I would also tell people to pay attention to their shoes. You are gaining weight so your center of gravity is adjusting. You might need to switch your shoes to work better with your pregnant body.
I didn't have a maternity support belt, however, my BRF is currently pregnant with her first and when I asked her about this she said she put it up there with running without a bra. That just shows that everybody is different and you need to do what works for you. For women who think they just can't, what words of motivation can you offer?
For women who think they just can't, what words of motivation can you offer?
Listen to your body and do what feels right. If it is a pace so slow your husband can walk next to you then you are doing great. If it is run/walk intervals then go for it. If it is just walking then awesome. If you swim laps, ride a bike, chill out with some prenatal yoga then you do you! It is a unique journey you are on with your body, let it be.
Which was easier for you: running first trimester or third?
Wow, both had their own bumps (HA!) but I would take third trimester. During my first trimester I would often get nauseous on runs, especially in the morning. I didn't get morning sickness much otherwise but I did toss my cookies on a few front lawns…sorry! I also hadn't told people yet but my pace was slowing and I needed more walk breaks. It was hard to explain what was going on without letting the cat out of the bag. My third trimester came with a smaller bladder, which just requires strategic route planning. My hips got a little wobbly toward the end but I had more energy than early on in my pregnancy. At that point, while my pace was SLOW I was happy to just be moving.
The strangest comment you received while running/racing throughout the pregnancy:
I don't recall a lot of comments, most people were super supportive or inspired. At least to my face. I am sure I got a few "you are crazies" but I get that anyway. The one moment that stands out in my mind was the very last race I did. I was 36 weeks, plodding along slowly. My dear, sweet, fast husband tried to fake run next to me when he could have walked my speed. We were at the final turn before the finish, a course marshal was there doing the pity clap and weak "You can do it." Then I started to turn and he could see I wasn't just slow, I was HUGELY pregnant. And his jaw literally dropped. I am sure I had a few choice words for him in my head.
Boy did they ever. My last 5K at 36 weeks took nearly as long as it takes me to run a 10K now. I was SUPER pregnant, of course I was going to run slow-for-me but I also have a competitive streak. I remember thinking during that race that I wanted to beat all the other pregnant ladies running and how there should be a separate category like Athenas in triathlons. My husband, who insisted on running with me, thought this was funny. But a lot of runners are competitive and being pregnant takes away a runner's normal competitive channels such as paces and finish times. What worked for me was setting a non-time goal. I wanted to complete 9 races over the course of 9 months. To start and finish, that kept me moving no matter the pace.Pregnancy isn't a time to worry about paces or distance or any of that stuff. Day to day I often felt my body wasn't fully my own; I was sharing it with someone else. And there were all these rules you have to follow. It was frustrating at times because I am an independent, headstrong person. Going out for a run let me connect back to my body and to the little guy growing inside of me. I would tell women to take it day by day. Listen to their body, respect their body, and if they can't let the numbers go then leave the watch at home.How soon post-partum did you start running again? How did you know you were ready?
I had a C-section and was told to wait 5-6 weeks to start running again; I waited 5 weeks. I started too soon and it ended up causing all sorts of niggles that I am still dealing with.
As a pregnant runner it is super obvious that you don't have 100% control of your body and that you need to work with what you have on that day. But after giving birth, it is easy to want to jump back in. I made the mistake of thinking that I could run three miles when I was about to pop so I thought I could do the same right after giving birth.
A C-section is major surgery and it is hard to realize that you are pretty much starting from a whole new place. Things are not the same. And I really struggled. All of the Relaxin that helps let your body go through childbirth is still in your system. Your core is in total disarray. I am not sure why women, including me, think that they can just get back out there and start running like nothing happened. I wish I had slowed down, gradually increase my miles using a run/walk program and pair it with a lot of core, stability, and overall strengthening work. Getting all those muscles that have been stretched and pulled for 10 months back in shape is so important to staying healthy long term as a runner. We think it is just about getting the miles and speed back. Really the focus should be on letting your body heal, core stability, and building a solid base.