Sunday, January 13, 2013

Running with Baby

I get a lot of questions about my running now that I'm pregnant so I thought I'd talk about my opinions on running while pregnant. First and foremost, YES, I am most definitely still running and plan to continue until the day I go into labor! My doctor supports my plan and encourages me to continue running, however if he ever does tell me for the health and safety of my baby or myself then I will absolutely stop running. Hopefully that won't happen.

Running is certainly different and definitely harder, however I still love and need running in my life! Exercise is not harmful for baby and can only benefit mom for both labor and the task of carrying a little one for nine months. I plan to do everything I can to be strong and healthy throughout these times. I've heard some people say that you shouldn't get your heart rate higher than a certain point. While it's certainly different for every woman, my doctor has told me that there is no need to worry about being above/below a certain number, but just being aware of my body and knowing when I'm feeling good and when I've pushed too hard. I've always been very aware of how my body feels while running and done a lot of my pacing by feel. It's no different now, which is great!

The important thing to remember when I talk about running while pregnant is that I ran ALOT before I was pregnant and I was a fairly good and experienced runner. So, while it may seem to a non-runner that I'm running a crazy amount while pregnant, the reality is that I've cut WAAAAY back. It's all relative to what I did before! No speed work, tempo runs or pacing on long runs. I run by feel and I don't stress about pace. If it feels hard I slow down or walk. I try to run 3-4 times per week for a total of about 15-20 miles, sometimes less. My average marathon pace before pregnancy was 8 min/mile or faster. I couldn't imagine maintaining that pace for half a mile now! I'm averaging anywhere between 9:45-11 min/miles now, even on short runs. I'm ok with a run being only 20 minutes (that was a warmup before!) My heart rate stays pretty even but if I feel like I'm breathing hard I stop for a walk and stretch break.

Have I mentioned that I love knowing I ran marathon #10 with a baby on board? Even though I didn't know I was pregnant yet, looking back on that marathon makes me smile. And, I'm really convinced that's why I bombed the last 6 miles...ugh, not my finest running moment. I guess I'll never know if I was ready to run the pace I was running and baby made things hard at the end or I wasn't conditioned enough to maintain the pace for longer than 20 miles. Oh well...either way things worked out just perfect. I still managed a 3:29, qualified for Boston again (and hope to run in 2014) and I've got a little one on the way. Perfect!

While 2013 is certainly going to be different than most years, I still have goals and plans for my running. During pregnancy my goals are to run strong and maintain my weekly mileage while staying injury free. I'm challenging myself to include stretching and using the foam roller as part of my daily routine as well as keeping up weights and core workouts a few times a week to stay strong. Since it's winter (and WAY to cold to ride outside) I have also set the goal to attend at least one spin class per week. I'm honestly not very motivated to swim so we'll see if I can ever get excited about getting to the pool. My goals postpartum are to return to running both healthy and motivated. While I know I'll be eager to get back out there I have set the goal of being patient with myself and allow my body to dictate the pace of my return, plus I want to find a healthy balance in my life with a little one. Once I am back to a regular running routine again I hope to train for a FUN marathon in the fall while enjoying running with baby and then start training hard in hopes of a marathon PR in 2014.

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