Pregnant Running- Part 1, a Reflection of the First Trimester

As a part of returning to this space, I want to dedicate a few posts to “pregnant running” – a recap of sorts of what I did and how I felt.  When I found out that I was pregnant, I was training for the Baystate Marathon.  None of what follows should be considered medical advice – I am leaving out some private details and sticking to the running portion of my pregnancy.

(at the end of the first 20 miler for Baystate- 2:49 total time for me).

Prior to finding out that I was pregnant, Teo and I ran at least a 16, 17, and 2 20 mile training runs.  The first couple of long runs were in the pace range that I was expecting (8:20-8:30 pace)-  but the last few,  MAN were they a struggle.  The final 20 mile run (in early September) I was totally exhausted, slow, and needed a million bathroom breaks.   Over the next week running just got harder and some other symptoms popped up…  and low and behold-  we were pregnant!

After finding out that I was pregnant- I made some changes to my training and plans. My OB didn’t nix running the full marathon (plenty of women run full marathons pregnant)-  I did.  I would have only been 11, almost 12 weeks pregnant for the marathon and I just didn’t want to risk it.  Since I had been running double digit training runs all along, I felt comfortable sticking with the half marathon distance.  Other factors that I considered when deciding to run the half-  did I really want to “slog” through 26.2 just to say that I had run a marathon pregnant?  The quick answer- NO.  Would I blame the marathon if I got injured, something happened to the baby, etc?  Yes.

I felt different about the half marathon distance, though.  Running less than 2 hours at a moderate pace was nothing new to me or the little one!

My running partner and I decided to run The Manchester by the Sea half  a couple of weeks before the Baystate Marathon.  I didn’t push the pace at all, but did need a bathroom break around 8 miles in.  I ran a 1:53 (1:52:56)- about 8:37 pace- inclusive of a stop :).

(9.5 weeks pregnant)

(Baystate- 11.5 weeks pregnant)

I wanted to run Baystate a little faster-  and I did! Only by a minute and a bit :)  Baystate was completed in 1:51:48-  for an 8:33 avg.

How it felt:

Running any faster than an 8 min/mile was tough almost immediately-  I just felt short of breath and tired.  Training paces were fine for the whole first trimester.  As I closed in on 12 and 13 weeks I needed bathroom breaks, often.  I was actually surprised that I didn’t need portapotties at Baystate-  but I did need the post race food!  After both halfs I had gas left in the tank-  but by the end of the day on those race days I was WIPED OUT.  Nap city.

Around 12 weeks I became full on exhausted.  8PM bedtime, evening nausea (though I was never sick)-  but I kept up with my routine.  Running still felt pretty good (even though it was slower)-  and there was no medical reason to stop.  Looking back on my logs I ran about 35-40 miles/week through 15 weeks pregnant without any problems.

And speaking of bathroom breaks- this was the most uncomfortable part of running in the second half of the first trimester, for me.  I felt like I had constant pressure on my bladder.  For someone so small at the time- Teo was making his presence known!  It made running outside tough-  I wanted a potty every 2 miles or so.  I switched to running on the treadmill for the most part.

The takeaway-  I listened to my body!  Being pregnant changed my philosophy regarding running- no longer did I feel the need to hit a certain pace or distance- I just ran for the sake of running.  In some ways this was exactly what I needed-  I felt the “pressure” of performing and competing lift. During the two races I struggled a little bit with being “slow”- and thinking about what I “could” have run if I wasn’t pregnant- but by 13 weeks I was over that hump and just enjoying myself.


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