If you’ve been following along with my running updates at all this year, you may have noticed that they suddenly seemed to have stopped a few months ago. What started out as marathon training in January transitioned to training for a 25k, and then suddenly stopped a few weeks before “race day”.
Well, things have been a bit crazy over here, and as much as I hate to admit it – running has changed drastically since April.
Surprise: I am pregnant!
My husband and I are expecting a baby this December and are completely overwhelmed with joy as we await the arrival of our sweet miracle.
While being able to start a family was something I wanted so desperately and waited for so impatiently, navigating the first few months of running while pregnant took me on a journey that was completely different than what I expected.
Now that we are a few weeks into the second trimester, I thought I’d share a bit about my journey of running during the first trimester.
When I envisioned starting a family and navigating pregnancy, I always imagined that I would be one of those women who continue running as if nothing has changed throughout pregnancy (spoiler alert: this is definitely NOT the case).
Running while pregnant is no joke.
Once I discovered that I was pregnant, I quickly learned how much worry and fear mothers face on a daily basis. I was worried that I might unknowingly do something to harm the baby, cause a problem, or ruin my health. The month between finding out I was pregnant and my first official prenatal appointment was filled with second-guessing, worry and plenty of fear.
I found great comfort and support through reading the personal experiences of other long distance runners, but found that the internet, saturated though it may be, was really lacking in pregnant running advice – particularly advice for those in the beginning of their pregnancies during the first trimester.
So, it is my hope that recording some of my journey as a pregnant runner may help others who are unsure during their first trimester, and provide a little proof that no matter how much you prepare or how much running your body is accustomed to – running while pregnant is different for everybody.
Throughout training, my husband and I had been trying to start a family, which is what led to the drop from marathon training to 25k training. While I knew that pregnancy was a very real possibility during training, I was fully unprepared for the changes it would cause in my running.
The week leading up to the Martian Half Marathon was spent running a modified taper schedule to provide my legs some rest. I remember heading out to run my usual 3 mile run two days prior to the race, and having to cut it short at 2.6 miles.
My pace had slowed down quite drastically, but I attributed this to the usual “taper crazies” and the fact that we had recently returned from Hawaii and my body was still adjusting to the drastic time change.
Race day came and went along according to plan. I ran with my sister in law the entire time, and we finished the race at a pace that is 2-3 minutes per mile slower than my usual pace. This slower-than-usual pace is probably why I never felt tired or sluggish during the race.
Later that day, I found out I was pregnant.
Upon realizing that I had completed a half marathon while pregnant, I felt much more secure in the fact that my body would be able to handle long distance mileage throughout the pregnancy.
I took my usual 5 days off after the race, but quickly discovered that things were drastically different when I returned for my recovery run.
I was amazed how quickly and drastically my pace had slowed down. Within just a few days of getting a positive pregnancy test, my running had changed. The first few weeks of running while pregnant were spent walking quite a bit, whenever I noticed any sort of pressure or abnormal feeling in my abdomen (which was quite frequently).
When I was running, my pace was nearly two minutes slower per mile than my usual easy run pace. While my body never felt bad on the run, I constantly worried that I would inadvertently hurt the baby by running too much, too fast, without taking enough breaks, etc.
By the time my 25k race day came around, I was way too nervous to get out and run a distance race. My mom was a trooper and offered to run 6 miles with me on our favorite trail, never complaining that we were running at a snail’s pace and still needed to walk nearly a quarter of every mile.
This 6 mile run helped boost my confidence as I discovered that my body recovered well and smoothly.
Shortly after our 6 mile run, the pregnancy nausea and fatigue really set in. In my experience, running in the first trimester can be summed up in a few words: slow, walking, and napping.
After over a month of struggling to complete 3 miles just once a week, I am finally feeling better and more like myself. While running is certainly nowhere near where it used to be, I am now able to run more consistently and take fewer walk breaks.
My biggest lesson from running in the first trimester is learning to avoid the comparison trap. There are so many runners on the internet. I regularly read blogs from other pregnant runners who managed to run 40+ miles each week during pregnancy, up until just a few days before delivery.
On the other hand, I’ve also read plenty of blogs from athletes who advocate for completely stopping the sport altogether throughout pregnancy.
My mind spun in circles for weeks on end, constantly second-guessing myself and even my doctor’s advice. No matter what I did, I always felt like maybe it wasn’t normal.
But what I’ve learned is this: there is no normal. Every pregnant runner is different. No matter how fit or in shape you were prior to pregnancy, how your body responds to running while pregnant may take you by surprise.
And that’s okay.
I take comfort in knowing that running will be there for me when I am ready to return. No matter how many miles I squeeze in during pregnancy, it will still be there for me to resume once I am fully recovered and healthy post-delivery.
Our bodies have the incredible ability to grow a human, and no matter how shattered your ego may be (yet another battle we face), creating this human being takes full priority.
Forget what others are doing. Listen to your body, because more often than not, it is telling you exactly what it needs.
After many, many obstacles with running during the first trimester, my plan is to cherish this sweet season of life. When things are feeling good, I’ll try to fit in a few more miles. But when things aren’t so hot, you’ll probably find me on the couch for a majority of the day.
As the second trimester gets underway, I plan to listen to my body and stay as active as possible (and healthy). My hope is that this trimester brings new energy and less nausea, and that running is able to provide a source of routine and consistency each week.
Whether that means logging 3 miles a week or 30, we will see. But for now, I’m taking the lessons I learned from running during the first trimester and trying to gain even more wisdom in this next, new season.
More running advice:
- How to Make a Running Comeback After Taking Time Off
- Should You Skip a Run? Here’s What You Need to Know
- 7 Ways to Get Your Running Groove Back
- 8 Simple Ways to Make Staying Active Easier