Real talk: I honestly thought I would be one of those women running up until their due date. I admit, I set an expectation early on that I would be able to continue running throughout my pregnancy. What I didn’t realize was just how much my body would change in a short period of time. I didn’t realize just how tired and exhausted I would actually feel. Growing a baby is hard work!
Now into my 2nd trimester, I’d like to share my experiences running so far during my pregnancy. This is my first pregnancy so I still don’t know what to expect and I definitely do not want to create expectations about how I will feel. Through all the weird symptoms and at times discomfort, I’m choosing to embrace and enjoy every minute of this time. Because at the end of this race, there is an amazing prize!
Running During my 1st Trimester
Food aversions. All my favorite foods literally made me gag from about week 6-12. I couldn’t eat a lot of vegetables, fruit or really flavorful meals. Celery, onions, garlic, ginger, apples, and leafy greens were the absolute worst. It was so sad! Watching Superbowl commercials for Taco Bell and Burger King actually made me salivate because none of the healthy food I normally ate were appealing.
As bad as I craved the naughty, not-good-for-me foods, I kept plenty of healthy, bland options available. My go-to’s were plain Triscuit crackers, hard cheeses, toast, fried eggs, and oranges. Thank goodness I still could eat at least 1 fruit.
As bad as my food aversions were, eating healthy was vital for keeping up my energy up and my stomach sound during my runs and workouts. Unhealthy foods may taste good and satisfy the craving in the moment, but I always paid for it later.
Nausea hit me hardest during week 6-13 with the worst of my symptoms happening in the evenings after dinner. I never actually puked (thank you Jesus!), but I lost a lot of my energy and wanted to go to bed early most nights. I also made sure I was careful not to overeat at meals. This worsened my nausea. Water sometimes was hard to get down, but I used Nuun tablets to help flavor and encourage me to drink more.
Thankfully, when I ran, my nausea dissipated and was never an issue.
Bloat and gas. I was so bloated and gassy whenever I went for a run; which was very uncomfortable. Throughout my first trimester, I actually felt like I had a little baby bump! But it was just gas…
I already need a bigger sports bra? Being an avid runner, I’ve always had a smaller chest. During the first trimester, I was shocked at how fast my boobs grew within in the first month of pregnancy! It’s very uncomfortable if you do not have a supportive bra. I purchased a larger sports bra around the 10-12 week mark.
Naps. My husband makes fun of me because my naps only last 10-15 minutes tops. I pass out really quickly and not for very long. Whenever I felt exhausted after a long day at work, I would allow myself a 10-15 minute nap because I knew it would re-energize me to get a workout in or catch up on chores needing done around the house.
I’m not going to lie, during the 1st trimester, I barely had motivation to do much in the evenings. Jake was a huge help in the evenings cooking meals and doing the dishes. Ask for help so you can go on a run, workout or do something pampering for yourself. It was important to wind down.
Run by effort, not by pace. Right out of the chute, when I found out I was pregnant, my goals immediately changed to maintain fitness instead of increasing performance. Slowing my pace was easy to do as I was experiencing many changes physically at the time. My pace slowed naturally from 8:30 pace to around 9:45 – 10:30 pace. At this pace, my heart rate stays at or below 140 bpm. I was advised by my doctor to listen to my body and let my energy determine how far or how long I ran each day. No pre-determined routes or planned mileage. Some days I was able to run 4-5 miles and other days I wouldn’t run and would go for a 2-3 mile walk instead.
Running in my 2nd Trimester
Today, I am 18 weeks along and well into my 2nd trimester of pregnancy.
I have to pee. I don’t have a large baby bump right now, but its still a bump. This little bump is starting to seriously squish my bladder. Runs quickly became much shorter during the start of my 2nd trimester. I either pick a route with a gas station or keep it short and sweet in case I have to pee! When and if you do stop and pee, don’t be surprised if you don’t actually have to pee that much. The feeling “I have to pee” is constant no matter how much you actually have to go.
Cramping and Spotting. At week 14, I started noticing some different symptoms. Sometimes it felt like my period was going to start; usually light cramping accompanied by a headache. When I feel these symptoms on a run, I stop running immediately and switch to a light jog or brisk walk to get me home. I also avoid hills and save the harder routes for my walks.
Bleeding. The next week, my symptoms were worse. I started experiencing spotting and cramping. Only having ran 1 day during week 15, I was a little unsure if the run was truly the cause. I also noticed these symptoms occurred when I have been on my feet all day at work. Long, exhausting days seem to cause spotting and cramping. as well.
Two days after my run, things worsened and I experienced heavier bleeding. I was pretty freaked out and immediately called my doctor. My doctor wanted me to come in just to make sure everything was okay with baby.
I was very worried and freaked out, but so thankful I went in. Watching the ultrasound, I saw baby kicking, stretching and taking up every inch of room in there. I was so relieved to see baby active and healthy. But what about the bleeding?
Moving forward, my doctor told me to stop running for now. At first, this was a hard prescription to swallow as I love being active and really enjoy running. But honestly, looking at the big picture, does being able to run really matter that much? There are lots of other ways to move my body and get exercise. I will do anything to keep our baby healthy! And if that means no running, so be it.
Keep moving. My goal these days is to keep moving daily – at least 30-45 minutes. Walking, hiking on the weekends, yoga, strength circuits and Barre workouts at home are the main activities I enjoy to keep myself active and strong. I also do a lot of hip strengthening exercises like squats, leg lifts, fire hydrants, clam shells, etc.
Rest. If I feel exhaustion at any point during the day, that’s my cue to take it easy. Listening my body . While training for races, rest has always been the hardest component for me. So far, pregnancy has taught me a valuable lesson or two… or three about rest. I need to chill out!
Real Talk: My Baby Rules the Roost!
Pregnancy has been the most exciting, incredible experience so far and I will not jeopardize this time with a bad attitude about not being able to run. I have found so many other ways to be active and stay healthy for baby and me.
Christina & Baby