At first sign of pregnancy, I hit up Google for everything I needed to know about running pregnant. I couldn't find everything I was looking for and still don't have it completely figured out, but after my post about running in the second trimester, I found it necessary and fair to follow it up with running during the third and final leg of pregnancy!
When I embarked on this amazing pregnancy journey, I had envisioned being able to run up until my very last day. I understood that I would slow down, the miles would decrease and that it would become increasingly more difficult. However, I didn't imagine that come 6 weeks out from due date, running would be nearly impossible.
Running has been my life for the past 8 years- workouts revolved around it. Days revolved around it. Lack of a social or romantic life even revolved around it. So, come 8 and half months pregnant and realizing that my running is going to need a LONG break (6 more weeks of cooking + weeks of recovery from delivery) I was mortified.
I've seen plenty of people running up until their very last day and I so wish this was the same for me and my pregnancy, but it's not. And it might not be for you either. If you find yourself in this position, don't panick mama, you will be back. I've found so much comfort in following postpartum mommies and their journey to gaining their speed, strength and endurance back. Realizing that this is one small moment of time in the big picture of your life has made the experience a bit more bearable. After all, we must remember, we get a baby out of the deal!
Everyone's experience is so extremely different and sometimes with workouts and pregnancy we have this "keeping up with the Jones'" attitude. I've had to learn myself that this simply just isn't possible... And certainly shouldn't exist! By no means do I feel that pregnancy is a handicap or that you should use it as an excuse to get lazy or eat whatever you want, but it is a time to listen to your body (unless maybe your body is demanding ice cream every single day!). As runners, we are programmed to run through the pain and then run some more. To push our limits. To exceed expectations. To hit PR's. As PREGNANT runners, we should slow down, enjoy the surroundings, be appreciative of the ability to simply keep moving, decrease mileage over time (because our bodies need it) and avoid pain at all costs.
I don't want to refer to it as giving up but at a lost of better word choice, a few things that made me realize it was time to give up running were:
- Pain: during and after. Front side and back side. At first the pain didn't start until after the run was over. Once I stopped I instaneously got back pain and spent the rest of the day waddling around in what looked like extreme dramatic fashion. And then at night the pain would make its way to my lower abdomin and felt very similar to menstrual cramps. The bigger I got, the sooner the pain would begin during the run and would last several days.
- My doctor: strongly encouraged me to 'slow down'. Not only did she advise to slow down my workouts but life in general, including my career (which I spent many hours on my feet). She stressed the importance of bringing the baby safely to term and that for me apparently required rest!
- Less joy: as the weeks wore on, I was less excited to get out and run (partially the heat and partially the pain). Instead of looking forward to it, I was dreading it!
With these three indicators, i finally came to the conclusion (on my own terms) that perhaps it was time to continue my healthy and active pregnancy in a different fashion. Stopping running was a last resort and here are some things I tried before 'throwing in the towel':
- Pregnancy Belt: This saved me many, many miles. I started wearing mine at about 20 weeks and could "run" up until 33 weeks. It was a complete life savor! I used the Medela Belt (they also have many other pregnancy and postpartum products available as well, but I'm sure any type of support will be of help!
- Intervals: Instead of logging 3 continuous miles I would run in an interval fashion. Some days I'd run 1/2 mile then walk for 10 seconds and repeat for the duration of the work out. One of my favorite pregnancy workouts was this:
1 mile warm up
- 8 deadlifts
- Battle Rope Lunges
1/2 mile run
- 8 overhead squats
- Curtsy Lunges
1/2 mile Run
- 8 Step Ups
- Sled Pushes
1 mile cool down
3. Swimming: I will never understand why I waited so long to get in the pool. It is the BEST thing I could have done. Every work out is killer and the best part is it is COMPLETELY pain free. And WEIGHTLESS! What prego doesn't want to feel weightless? If you haven't tried it yet and are struggling to stay active otherwise- don't wait any longer!
This is not the end of a journey but the beginning of something beautiful. Once you have your baby, you get the opportunity prove just how amazing our bodies are. They push out humans and then come back stronger, faster, more resilient than ever. Appreciate everything about that.