Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Running during Pregnancy

It's been an interesting journey keeping up my running during this pregnancy.  During my last pregnancy, I ran a marathon at 15 weeks.  I had already completed a lot of the training for the marathon when I found out I was pregnant and I was willing to make some modifications to my running to make sure I was keeping my baby safe (I answered some questions about that here). Basically, I brought along plenty of water, added some walk breaks, and changed to a marathon that happened when I was 15 weeks instead of 20.

But along the way, I struggled with a knee injury that made the marathon hard to complete.  After the run, I kept off my legs for a few weeks to recover and let that injury heal, and by that point, I just didn't feel much like running again.

This time around, I started the pregnancy as a much stronger runner.  I've run a half marathon every year since 2011 and I've done well at keeping up a basic 10K fitness this year.  It's been years since I took a walk break during a run, and I've come to depend on running to keep me fit and feeling great. So I haven't been anxious to give up running.

The first trimester was great.  I ran a 4-miler with my best per-mile-average yet at 6 weeks (9:06 average pace).  I ran a nine-miler training run that felt great around the same time.  Basically, I found that for the first few months, I could keep up the same regular training (3-4 milers twice a week, a 5-6 miler on Saturdays) at the same conversational pace with no problems.

My motivation was easy to keep up this time because I hardly experienced morning sickness, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine.  I signed up for a 10K when I'd be 20 weeks along, hoping to keep up my motivation for the longer runs and maintain as much fitness as I could.

Starting around the first of the year, or about 12 weeks, the running started to get harder.  I was getting bigger and feeling a lot more worn out at the end of longer runs.  But I was able to push through and keep it up.  Just to prove I could, I did my favorite, but very challenging, 7-mile-loop when I was 15 weeks, running up and around the Provo Temple.  It was hard, but it felt great.
Me at 14.5 weeks

But I was also feeling a lot of pulling and discomfort in my belly and back when I ran.  The addition of a belly band has helped a ton.

19.5 weeks
On March 7th, I ran my 10K.  I told myself to I could go slow and I planned on pulling in 11-minute miles.  But I didn't time myself at all along the race, just ran as fast as felt reasonable.  I ended up finishing the race in 1:03:57, a 10:21 average pace, much faster than I expected.  It felt great to have worked so hard.  The last twenty minutes or so were really tough and I felt pretty wiped out (you can see me sprint to the finish line on this video, and the look on my face shows my exhaustion well).  Still, I was proud of myself for having enough left in me to sprint at the end.

20 weeks, 2 days, the day of my 10K

My husband, who has been running 5 or 6 days a week since the fall (when he beat me soundly in a weight-loss challenge), ran his first 5K since high school, and did extremely well, finishing in 23:36, with a pace of 7:37.  The brat!  :)  Seriously, I am really proud of how hard he's worked, but his native speed makes me slightly jealous.  I've worked my tail off for years to go from slow to average, so to have him come in 7th out of 31 with just six months of running experience could be disheartening.  If he'd been older by six months, he would have been 2nd in his division!  But I've never been about speed, and it's awesome to see him love running.  And I love that he's lost 60 pounds, too.

In the weeks since the 10K, it's become harder and harder to run.  My legs and arms have started to feel heavy, as if the blood just isn't circulating as well.  It feels a lot like when I was running after recovering from my miscarriage and the loss of blood.  Only this time, the blood is there; it's just supporting my cute little baby boy instead of my legs and arms.  And the belly band, while being very supportive, also lies right around my bladder area, which is already at reduced capacity.
22 weeks, right after a 3 miler

My running partner has been wonderful to slow down with me and the last few times, I've ditched the timer so I won't worry about speed.  And how I feel on a run seems to vary by the day.  I ran 3 miles this morning and felt better than I did the last couple of runs.  But I'm 24 weeks on Thursday and I'm thinking this might be the week I quit in favor of less intense cardio.

23.5 weeks
It's been a fun challenge to keep it up as long as I can.  I was complaining to my doctor last week about how hard it's become and she smiled as she said, "Have I talked to you about swimming?"  I told her I just wanted to keep it up as long as I could and she said, "Why?"  I realized that I really didn't have a good reason.  I don't care about what others think -- most people won't care whether I quit at 12, 20 or 28 weeks. But I realize that running for me has become a challenge that I enjoy -- I feel a desire to improve, to see how well I can do, just to prove to myself that I can.  It might not make a lot of logical sense, but I got it fixed in my head that I wanted to run until 28 weeks so I wanted to do it, even if it wasn't any fun and even if it hurt.  But I think I'll settle for 24, unless I feel so great after Thursday's run that I change my mind again.

1 comment:

Rachael said...

I followed your blog over from Mel's Kitchen Cafe and have been enjoying all of your running posts! I resonate with many of the points you've brought up about running and motherhood (oh, I am SUCH a better runner as a mother--it has increased my pain tolerance like none other, plus it's a good motivator to think, "Self, you can go home right now and put the kids to bed, or you can run another three miles and they'll be asleep when you get home!" Hah!).

Just wanted to comment that I also ran through my pregnancies and while the belly band helped in the actual running part, I had a lot of pain in my hips afterwards and a hot bath every night that I ran, plus alternating running days with yoga days helped SO much. That combo kept me running all the way to delivery with my 4th and 5th. (During my ninth month I would often run a mile, then walk a minute, then run another mile and keep that going for 4 or 5 miles; if I ran much longer than 9 minutes without the walking break I started to have contractions.) Of course, by the time my fifth was born I felt like my body was going to fall apart, so I am super impressed that you are still running at 24 weeks with number 10! Way to go! Your kids are so lucky to have your awesome example of determination and fortitude.

I also LOVE reading about someone else who ran while pregnant. Everyone I know thought I was insane but it truly was what kept me sane. :-)


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