Congratulations! You’re pregnant. Now, stop doing all of your favorite activities immediately.
Nope. WRONG WRONG WRONG
Just because you’re pregnant, it doesn’t mean you have to stop doing what you love. If running is a part of your life, there is absolutely no reason for you to stop.*
*unless your doctor tells you to stop!!! Listen to your doctor! Also, please my that so am not a medical professional. I am strictly speaking from my experience. Please consult with your doctor before running while pregnant.
Running while pregnant is a whole new ballgame, but it’s certainly not impossible. There are people who even run marathons while pregnant SAFELY! I wasn’t one of those people. I ran a half the day I found out I was pregnant (I certainly had A LOT to occupy my mind on that run) and one at the start of my second trimester and that was it for me. But I did run up until the day I went into labor and delivered a healthy baby boy on his due date (Mr. Punctual!).
If you already run, you should safely be able to run throughout your pregnancy. It’s definitely not a good idea to start while you’re pregnant. I remember how hard it was to start running in the first place, and I can’t imagine going through that and being pregnant.
If you’re going to run – YAY! Here’s some simple tips that worked for me.
That’s generally how I talked about food when I was pregnant 🙂
If you’re pregnant, don’t skip meals. Don’t restrict. If you’re a pregnant runner, you’re going to need to eat even more calories to replace what you’re burning.
Always eat before you head out on a run. In the first trimester I would often forget to eat in the morning before a run, and I would be shaky and ready to quit after a mile. Have a snack before you go and make sure to replace those lost nutrients post-run as well.
Basically, just eat a lot. Haha, obviously I mean healthy stuff. I craved smoothies and yogurt (I also craved McDonald’s- EEK!). If you need a specific calorie goal, talk to your doctor or a nutritionist and make sure they know you plan to run and how much you’ll be doing it.
Also, drink plenty of water. Drink what you think is a lot of water and then drink more (very scientific). Staying hydrated is key during pregnant running.
What the ^&%^%#$ Should I Wear?
I SCOURED the Internet and every clothing retailer in town for running stuff while I was pregnant. What I found was that maternity running clothes are challenging to find and they are expensive—especially for items of clothing you’ll wear for just a few months and may never wear again.
What worked for me:
- Buying larger sizes in regular discount running clothes
- Old Navy had the most affordable, best quality maternity exercise clothes
- Maternity consignment stores
- Having a few outfits consisting of larger sized-items and a few Old Navy pieces that I just wore over and over
I had been told by a lot of people that they would wear their husband’s clothes. My husband is a lean cuisine and didn’t want his clothes stretched out, so that wasn’t an option for me.
This was by FAR the biggest issue for me. I was already pretty well-endowed before I got pregnant and then my chest got crazy big during my pregnancy (and clownishly big when my milk came in post-birth). I already had issues with bras chafing and so this is the one area of my pregnant running wardrobe where I splurged. My top bra pics:
- Moving Comfort Juno Bra
- Super comfortable, goes up to an E cup, adjustable back and stretchy underband
- Moving Comfort Maia Bra
- This bra is SERIOUS. It has an underwire, which is very supportive, but I found it uncomfortable during my third trimester. It was perfect up until then and was great post-birth.
Pace and Distance
I continued to do long runs of 10-15 miles up until about halfway through the second trimester. Keep in mind, I was full-marathon training when I got pregnant and had already done a few 20-milers, so those long runs were actually shorter than what I had been running.
Other than the long run, I kept my daily runs around the same as before pregnancy (6-7miles) until the third trimester when I dropped down to 3-6 milers.
One issue I had while running throughout the last half of my third trimester was that I constantly had to pee. It was brutal. I recommend wearing a panty-liner, or at least dark bottoms, because you are very likely to leak a little. Awesome.
Overall, you can stick with distances similar to what you’re used to until your body tells you it can’t do it anymore. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Look for these warning signs that you need to stop running and see a doctor:
- Pain anywhere
- Bleeding: Anything more than light spotting; even then I would call the doc just to check
- Extreme fatigue
- Contractions: Not Braxtion Hicks – I had these while running during my last month of pregnancy and my doctor said this was fine
One of the hardest parts about running through pregnancy for me was that I was used to some amount of discomfort and even pushing through pain during running. That’s just par for the course as a runner. Like when you’re running a race or training hard, you push through a lot. When you’re pregnant, you cannot do that. You have to pay attention to what your body is telling you!
As far as pace, I gradually slowed down as I got bigger and bigger. By the end, I was basically just shuffle-jogging, but it felt good to me! Again, let how you feel be your guide. Keep a conversational pace and try not to let your heart rate get crazy out of control.
Where To Run and When
I loved to run in the dark when I got pregnant. This came to a screeching halt when I was 12 weeks pregnant and running late in the evening. I tripped over a bump in the sidewalk and wiped out – hard. I fortunately came away from this with scraped up palms and a road rash on my elbow, but if I had been further along in my pregnancy it could have been bad.
The lesson I learned: I could not do reckless shit while pregnant. And stuff that I previously thought was safe, was now reckless. Running in the dark was out of the question.
I also stopped running on trails. I am far too clumsy for the higher hazard risk that trails pose. If you are a skilled trail runner, I would think that less technical trails would be fine while pregnant, but definitely not for me.
Your best places to run while pregnant:
- Safe roads and sidewalks
- The treadmill
- From your bed to the bathroom to pee (you’ll be doing that a lot!)
Other important considerations:
- Pay attention to the weather, run early before it gets too hot
- Avoid icy or snowy streets and sidewalks
I found that recovery from runs was a lot more difficult near the end of my pregnancy. I went from running 6 days a week, to running 4-5 days a week. I need those extra days off.
Get the rest you need between runs. Seriously. You aren’t going to get any for a solid few months after your baby arrives!
If you don’t run during your pregnancy for medical or personal reasons, trust me, you will get back to where you were during pregnancy. I promise. Do not stress about it. The most important thing is having a healthy baby. Running will also be there when you’re ready to pick it back up.
Is there anything I missed, or anything else you want to know? Let me know! I’m happy to answer any questions or offer advice or encouragement if you need it!