Runmama. It’s my license plate and encompasses two major parts of my identity. I became a mom in 2014, and became a runner, well, I think that is one part of my identity that formed before I even knew what “identity” was. There was no question when I became pregnant with my eldest that I would keep running as long as I could. With my first child, that was 6 months. With my middle child, it was 6.5 months. And with my third, well, I am just hitting the 5-month mark and still logging 8+ miles a day. I am thankful for every day I still get to run, because I know it could be soon that I need to listen to my body and switch to a different form of exercise. But who knows? Some women run through their entire pregnancies; maybe that could be me this time around!
I’ve learned a few things about running during pregnancy and post-partum. I hope that any person who feels like they want to continue knows there are resources out there to support you.
Tip #1: One of the biggest takeaways that I have learned is to listen to YOUR body. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Do not compare to someone you see on social media, do not compare to your running partner, and EVEN do not compare to yourself in a previous pregnancy. Our bodies our different and all pregnancies are different, so you have to trust your own process in the moment. For example, with my son (1) and daughter (2), the first trimester meant intense nausea and the only thing that helped was running! I would spend the whole day nauseated, save for the time that I was running and immediately after. Fast forward to this pregnancy and I had even MORE intense nausea (honestly, I did not know that was possible, yet there I was), and this included while I was running. My usual trusty method did not afford me any respite; I could be mid-run and feel horrible. What that meant is that I had some days where I did not run as far or some days where I did not run at all. I was motivated to keep trying, but for a period of about 6 weeks, fatigue combined with nausea made my runs a challenge. Around 13 weeks my fatigue let up a bit, so I could at least start running longer, but the nausea still hasn’t totally been kicked to the curb. However, now my runs have grown longer, and I am still able to run my usual schedule of 6 days on, 1 day off.
Tip #2: Get support. Emotional support is great, of course, but in this case, I am talking about getting a band to support your growing belly. In this pregnancy I got a Recore FITsplint and boy, has it made all the difference in my pelvis feeling more comfortable, as well as my bladder has been afforded some relief (I still usually stop to pee once per run, so don’t judge yourself if you need to stop for potty-breaks!). Core exercises and strengthening are also so important. There are plenty of people out there who can offer exercises to try, just make sure they are qualified to do so.
Tip #3: Wear comfy running clothes. I wear rabbit, of course. That part is a no-brainer for me. My favorite shorts to run in are the Catch Me If You Can (they are low-cut enough that they just sit below my belly for running). As we head into cooler weather, I’ve found that all the tights can sit below the belly also. All the EZ line is great for running and for lounging too because of the material being so soft and accommodating of a body that is changing shape.
Tip # 4: Trust your body. If you are in pain, don’t push it. If something does not feel right, slow your roll. You may have to take a break from running for a while. You know what? Running will still be there for you when you come back. As I mentioned, I stopped running around 2/3 of the way through both of my previous pregnancies, and I have PR’d in every distance after both of them (no pressure or anything, but I have big plans after this one too). I like to think of the break as extending my running career and reminding me just how much I love to run. A good positive reframe never hurts, and if you have ever been injured or had to take a break, you know that not being able to run only makes you want it more. So, for now, I will value every step I get to take, and continue to check in with my body, and we’ll see how far this baby and I can go!