New Moms: Balancing Running and Pregnancy
The running journey is a bumpy road, and a baby bump can make it even more exciting! We chatted with some fierce mamas for insight on how they navigated running and staying active while pregnant.
Funny tidbit about being pregnant you didn't know before?
CASSIDY: Being pregnant can be amazing, frustrating, wonderful and miserable all at once! It really is all emotions sometimes spread out, and others times felt in one hour.
EMILY: There were many tidbits about pregnancy I didn't know before...a lot of them not so funny, ha! One thing I didn't know is how cool it would be to feel the baby's movements in the womb. Amazing!
- Intense crying for the funniest reasons or no reason at all.
- BABY HEARTBEAT! I would imagine most parents love hearing the sound of their baby's heartbeat. But, as runner, the heart beat is especially exciting! If the doctor would let me I'd listen to the heartbeat for the whole appointment.
- Whenever I see a newborn I get slightly terrified because how is something that big going to fit inside of me and then how in the world is it ever going to get out?!
Emily Brain - PNW Volée member
Were/are you able to run during your pregnancy? Did you find a time you had to stop? Or, did you find other activities you enjoyed?
CASSIDY: Yes! I actually ran my first marathon very early on in my pregnancy. I wanted to continue to run as much as possible. My baby belly grew very quickly around 22 weeks and I found myself experiencing lots of belly pain with running. I ran my last race, a 5k, heading into my 23rd week. After that I modified to run/walking, then fully just walking from about week 26 on.
EMILY:I was able to run throughout my pregnancy. I did have some difficulties with my SI joints around weeks 20-26 and had to do more run/walking than continuous running. However, I was able to build back to feeling really good with continuous running and I even ran 4 miles the day I gave birth (my water broke while running!).
LYNDY: I like to think that pregnancy has given me a superpower and super energy! Running, working a full time job, and building a baby! The power of a positive mindset has helped me feel fierce and unstoppable. I've been really lucky and thankful that I've been able to run every day of the pregnancy so far. I've averaged 75 mile weeks in the 1st trimester, 70 mile weeks in the 2nd trimester, and currently at 65 miles per week in the 3rd trimester.
NIKKI: I was able to run until 20 weeks or so and had to stop because I was having too much pelvic pain. I ran a marathon in the beginning of pregnancy though and did several long distance training runs before I had to hang up my shoes. I was very lucky to have no morning sickness and I really loved those early weeks of running with my growing baby.
If you did continue to run, how did you alter your workouts?
CASSIDY: I adjusted my pace and distance. I ran everything easy and just enjoyed sharing my love of running with baby! Once I was just walking I did it as much as possible. As my pregnancy progressed, distance went down with my last walk being two days prior to my delivery!
EMILY: Until week 19 I was able to continue with my regular mileage per week and could run close to or at my regular easy/aerobic pace. I even did long runs, including completing the Orcas 25K trail race when I was 15 weeks pregnant. After week 19, I began to struggle with SI joint pain (as I mentioned) and had to modify by running only every other day, running no more than 5 miles at a time, and doing run/walking as needed for a while. I supplemented my running with my indoor bike trainer, walking, and barre class.
LYNDY: I've found that track workouts 1,000m repeats or less are best, with a lot more recovery than usual (400m jog, sometimes with a pee stop). I am a hawk for finding a port-a-potty on my routes. I only run at tracks with bathrooms because the pressure on the bladder is no joke!
NIKKI: I actually row competitively and was able to keep that up until 28 weeks or so before my belly started getting in the way and I was no longer interested in waking up at 4:30am! With rowing and running no longer an option, I picked up spin classes for another month or so. Then I stopped working out altogether and just really enjoyed getting great sleep and resting up for the biggest workout of all- Labor!
Lyndy Davis - Oiselle Hauté Volée team member! (currently 28 weeks pregnant)
Did you change your attitude about running or exercise in general during your pregnancy?
CASSIDY: I ate a very large piece of humble pie in regards to running. Having run a marathon pregnant and being in really great shape, I struggled with understanding why running suddenly became such a challenge. I had to change from a performance goal mindset to a more health-focused mindset when it came to running. I knew I wanted to keep at it for my health and babies health but I needed to accept that my body was only going to do so much. I believe that being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, it just means a whole new level of listening to your body. It was special to share running with my baby while pregnant and I can’t wait to share it in real life soon!
EMILY: I found that running during pregnancy really allowed me to reconnect with the core of what I love about running, which has nothing to do with performance or even with getting to run in a cool place. I love running simply because of the movement, chance to be outdoors, and the way that it makes me feel strong and confident regardless of the numbers on the watch!
LYNDY: Yes! I am more patient and grateful. Some days I am really tired and I end up walking the last mile of my run. Instead of being disappointed that I am not feeling well, I think about how nice it is to be outside. I set goals each week, but I don't have expectations that I will run more or go faster like I do when I am in a huge marathon training cycle. I fantasize about how strong I will be in 2020 for the USA Marathon Olympic Trials (I qualified the month before we got pregnant). When I am slowing running up a hill, panting for air and the baby is pushing on my bladder, I think about how my reality and pain tolerance are shifting. I am excited to become a mom and get back after my running goals with a new/stronger mindset.
NIKKI: I definitely changed my attitude about running and exercise. I always imagined I would be one of those women who ran until the day I went into labor...but it wasn’t meant to be. It was a great lesson in listening to my body and doing what was best for it. I pride myself in being a great athlete and a huge part of being a great athlete is listening to one’s body. I didn’t want to do any permanent damage and looked at the long-term goal which is running for years and years to come. In my 3rd trimester I really just enjoyed being quiet and restful...a very different pace of life than I’m used to and it was pretty wonderful!
What new exercise clothing requirements did you have?
CASSIDY: I actually was able to stay in all my regular sized fly style! For how big I got, I thought for sure I would have problems. However, thanks to all the Lux and Flyte I was able to rock it while running and walking.
EMILY: I was able to wear my regular running clothes throughout my pregnancy, but it did get fairly limited by the end as to what fit. My mac rogas worked all through the pregnancy because I size up in those anyway (I like the fit better...these are all the old version of the macs). My flyte tanks/tops, endorphin tanks, and birds of a feather tanks all fit till the day I gave birth as well (gotta love that Plya fabric and longer length!). Flyout tanks worked till nearly the end, too.
LYNDY: The flyte tanks are my go-to during pregnancy because they are long and stretch well. I also get warmer and more sweaty while pregnant so I need fabrics that don't chafe or show sweat as much.
NIKKI: Bigger sports bras were my only workout clothing purchase. All of my Oiselle tops were plenty long enough and leggings stretchy enough that I wore them until the day I gave birth.
Nikki Hein - Competititive rower and mother to a 6 week old boy!
What advice would you give moms who want to be active throughout their pregnancy?
CASSIDY: Listen to your body. Let go of expectation and just take it day by day.
EMILY: Listen to your body! And I mean listen to both the positive and negative signals. You may be able to do way more than other people think you should, and that's okay if you are feeling okay! You also need to listen when your body says you are extra tired or that something is not feeling right. Recovery becomes extra important during pregnancy, you will need way more of it than you think you do.
LYNDY: Set goals like you normally do for running/fitness, just cater them towards pregnancy. For instance, try to set “pregnancy pr’s” in local races, but by no means compare those to your non-pregnant self! As always stay flexible in the process, but don't throw in the towel for 9 months. The way I see it, I have 9 months to get ready for labor AND a new bundle of energy in your life. I feel best when I'm challenged, and pregnancy is certainly a challenge, so I set a lot of goals for my 9 month journey (see below!).
- Do squats, lunges, kettle bell swings 3x week. I'm hopeful this will help during labor.
- Drink one green smoothie a day. Nutrients for baby and mom!
- 1 speed workout per week (obviously this evolves and won't be as intense, long, or fast by the end of pregnancy)
- 1 long run a week (maintaining an endurance mindset is helpful for the journey ahead!) I did a long run every week that was equal to the number of weeks pregnant. Eg: 20 miles at 20
NIKKI: Be kind to your body and make sure you are listening to it carefully. And being a badass warrior doesn’t always mean pushing your body to the brink...it can also mean quietly preparing your body and mind for labor and birth - the biggest athletic event of all!
For many women, running and staying active aren't a possibility during pregnancy, and Lauren Fleshman beautifully covers that here.