“You’re still running? Is that okay?”
I get this question a lot when people find out that I am still running, well into my third trimester.
I am not running as often, or as quickly, but I am still running. I feel great when I run! In fact, research has shown that running and exercise have huge health and wellness benefits to the baby both in utero and later in life.
I don’t feel like baby is bouncing, or my core is stretching. It feels strong and supported. I don’t wear a belly band, or support belt. I tried higher waisted, more supportive pants, but I couldn’t stand how they felt. I rolled them down under my belly before I made it to the first mile marker. That said, if you feel discomfort or round ligament pain in your core, or discomfort in your hips or back, a supportive band may help.
Running is perfectly safe to continue throughout your pregnancy, unless you have pregnancy complications or have been advised not to run by your doctor. Be sure to stay hydrated & drink plenty of extra water after your runs. Dehydration can cause problems for you and baby.
A few things are different about running.
- Burning Legs: My legs burn when I run uphill. Not just when I am running fast, almost every hill. Normally my legs can keep going, but I feel it more in my lungs. During pregnancy you have a higher blood volume, and your heart is working harder to continue pumping that blood to your body. Your lung space is also diminished because the baby and all of your organs are pressed upward in your torso. That means that your body is working harder to oxygenate your blood. Listen to your body and pace yourself, especially when running hills or other tasks that require increased exertion.
2. Running Form: I haven’t noticed any changes in my running form, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. For most pregnant women, as your pregnancy progresses your hips tilt forward. Due to the increased relaxin in your body the hips also move more in a “back and forth” motion during a run. This is a sign of instability in the muscles due to stretching and shifts in your center of gravity. These changes will remain in place after pregnancy if you don’t actively do exercises to strengthen your core, glutes and back. I incorporated these exercises pre-pregnancy and still do them throughout my pregnancy, which I think is helping me maintain my running form, but I may have to get outside and have Jesse film me running to see if I spot any biomechanical changes.
Some exercises that help (all of the photos are from workouts that have been filmed during my pregnancy. You can find them here: http://www.benderfitness.com/category/fit-pregnancy):
Wall Sit Pelvic Tilt
3. Nipple Pain: Yup, you read that right, and it’s a doozy. Everything is more sensitive during pregnancy, and there have been a few times I actually had to stop running because it became so painful and uncomfortable. I probably looked like a crazy lady, walking through my neighborhood, and trying to get home, while holding my shirt and sports bra in such a way that it didn’t actually touch my skin. I invested in very supportive running sports bras, and that didn’t help. So I resorted to the old racing trick to help prevent chafing during longer runs: band-aids. So far that is doing the trick and has prevented any more painful episodes.
4. Lungs/Breathing: As I mentioned above, your lungs are being compressed, so you are unable to take in as much air as you used to. As a result you will not be able to run as quickly, and you will notice that you get out of breath more quickly. I notice it more when going up and down hill. It’s still important to control your pacing, and make sure that you aren’t getting out of breath to the point of being unable to speak. You should maintain a moderate effort during runs and be able to talk while running. When I run with Jesse we chat the whole time. When I run alone if I feel out of breath, or go up a really big hill I chat to the baby. My neighbors already think I am crazy for running around with my baby belly, so if they see me talking to myself I just smile and wave at them!
Make sure you warm-up before starting your run. This will help your lungs and body transition more smoothly into the run.
5. Slower Running Pace: My average running pace now ranges from 9:30 minutes/mile to 10:30 minutes/mile. This is significantly slower than my average and easy running paces pre-pregnancy. I listen to my body, make sure I am able to talk throughout the run, and if I ever feel that I need to walk I do it.
I am also flexible during my runs. In my neighborhood I have a 5K (3.1 miles) loop, 4-mile out and back, and a 5-mile loop that I enjoy. Some days I set out intending to do the 5-mile loop, and decide that I feel tired so I do the 5K instead. Other days, when I hit the 5K turn around point I am feeling fantastic so I decide to keep going. Don’t be afraid to adjust your runs, or even do a half run/half walk. Learn to be in tune with your body. It’s a lesson that will benefit you and your fitness journey even after your little bundle of joy is born.
Are there any other changes you have noticed with running that I haven’t mentioned here?
Any running, or other workout challenges you have been facing during your pregnancy? Let me know in the comments, or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MelissaBenderFitness or Instagram & Twitter: @BenderFitness