Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Preggo Running Rundown

I love to run.  
Running is my therapy, my meditation, my happy place.  Running is the thing that allows me to bake every week with the little man and still fit into at least some of my pants.  Running melts my stress and shifts my perspective.  It is hard to imagine life without it.

Yet, when I was pregnant with little J, my running routine completely fell to pieces.  That pregnancy was roughly an August through April one.  I felt pretty horrid in the first trimester, and it was all I could do to make it through my work day and come home for a nap.  I've never been a treadmill runner (I actually passionately despise the treadmill), so if I couldn't rally for a run on our rural road during daylight hours, I was doomed not to run.  I never could rally during that first trimester, and so by the time the second trimester rolled around, not only was I already out of running shape, but daylight savings time was over, and the northern darkness and Vermont chill put the kibosh on the rest of my preggo running aspirations.  I turned to lap swimming (which was awesome) and the elliptical (my old stand-by), but really missed the clarity that only a hard run outside seems to bring for me.  And then, damn, returning to running after the baby was born nearly killed me, I tell you.  Taking a year off of the roads does NOT make for an easy return.  I've fought hard to get back in my running groove since then, and do not intend to get off it again.

I've got a lot of things going for me this time around in terms of running through my pregnancy.  For one thing, I have a core determination to keep on running through every trimester based on having tried it the other way and hating the results.  And while there are things about being pregnant in summer that terrify me (see: August heat and the dreaded maternity swimwear), I am excited to have light and weather on my side as I continue my outdoor workouts.  Also, among the changes we've had going in the last couple months is that the husband started a new job and now works from home.  This has bought us much more time in our days, including an hour in the morning and the evening that used to be spent commuting.  It used to be that if I wanted to run solo before he left for work, I'd have to wake up at the crack and really haul, which is just not at all realistic during the first trimester, given the queasies which are at their worst in the AM.  That hour gained in morning makes our schedule so much more forgiving!  Yesterday morning, for example, I was able to do all my morning puttering, but then squeeze in a run before 8:45am, still allowing him to "commute" easily five steps down the hall and start his workday at 9.  Soooo luxurious, and I am loving every minute of it.  Finally, I found that even when my nausea was at its worst in the first trimester, if I could just get my arse out the door for a run (often the very hardest part of working out, no?) I felt so much better by the end of the first mile.

My first trimester officially ends today, and I'm thrilled to still be logging about 15 miles a week.  Marathon training this is not, but it is respectable and exciting to me, especially compared to how easily my running routine evaporated last time I was knocked up.  I am not saying this is easy, and there are days that I'd rather do anything but exercise, so I thought I'd share some of my pregnant running inspiration with you.  If you're an athlete and pregnant or think you will be at some point, I hope you'll find this useful.  And even if babes are the farthest things from your current plans or reality, I hope you can apply this motivation to whatever your own particular athletic challenge might be at the moment!

SMJ's Preggo Running Inspiration:
1) Professional Running Badasses
via Runner's World
Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher are professional distance runners and Olympians.  They are also moms!  Runner's World interviewed them in 2010 when they were both pregnant and training throughout.  The article is pure inspiration and full of great tips and humor; I've returned to it many times just for the little kick in the butt.  I love the photo of them above, preggo and racing, with Paula's daughter in tow.

2) Hungry Runner Girl
I just found this blog recently, and love it as a go-to for all things running.  The author, Janae, is a tad bit chirpy and has the nutritional proclivities of a twelve-year-old boy, but she is the first to cop to both, and her tone is incredibly tasteful and refreshing.  She is also one incredible runner, and just happens to be 22 weeks pregnant at the moment.  Homegirl is still logging some crazy mileage each week well into her second trimester (I'm talking like 50-60 miles, people), including long runs of 10-12 miles with her non-pregnant sister on the weekends.  She won a 5K early in her second trimester, and just completed a half-marathon this weekend and then proceeded to get ready for a wedding (where she was a bridesmaid!) in a public bathroom, and make it there on time shortly after crossing the finish line.  If that's not inspiration, I don't know what is!

3) Run Like a Mother
My beloved friend Ang sent me this fantastic book before I was even pregnant again, but I am more excited about it now than ever.  The book is written in a wonderfully chatty and accessible tone, and is full of tips and advice not only for healthy running throughout pregnancy, but also for how to make running (and prioritizing your healthy generally) dovetail gracefully with family life.  The information within feels especially prescient now, and I'd recommend it to any busy woman trying to work exercising into a packed existence.  I love the book and can tell my copy is about to become even more dog-eared.

4) Channeling My Crazy Competitive Side
While I'm not as cutthroat-competitive as certain sisters and friends in my life, I do have a genetic-predisposition towards healthy competition.  One of the benefits of urban running, especially on a route like our's which is around a beautiful local pond, is that there are always other runners out on the path.  On days when I am really dragging, I'll pick a person a bit out ahead of me to try and "beat", challenging myself to pass them and stay past them all the way around the pond. I realize that this makes me a total fruit loop, but I don't care!  It works.  And they are none the wiser (I hope).  A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to keep this bump in motion.
On days when I run, my nausea is better, my mindset is better, and I sleep a million times better.  So, I hope to keep this up for as long as I possibly can, and in an ideal world, right up until I deliver (it has been done!).  I'm looking forward to running on the beach with the hubs and our cousins on vacation in South Carolina this summer (or at least trailing behind them in the distance and thinking my thoughts, waiting for them to scoop me up on their return).  I'm looking forward to running a great loop near our new house with the husband (if he takes both the stroller and the dog and I'm totally unencumbered, it creates enough drag to slow him down to just faster than my current pace - perfect).  And I'm looking forward to not starting totally from scratch when it is time to get back in shape after this pregnancy. Part of being a mom is setting an example for your kids about healthy living, and I hope that a dedication to exercise is something that both the husband and I can continue to model for our kids as our family grows.  In the meantime, it is awesome to know that I'm never running alone these days... #2 is always along for the ride, and I hope he or she is getting just as much out of it as I am!


  1. SMJ, I'm still amazed at the way you dragged yourself back out onto the running roads during lunch breaks, post-baby. You're an inspiration! ~BLA

  2. Fabulous post, SMJ!! Just so you know, I've been averaging 15 miles per week and I'm training for a half marathon. (That said, two weeks ago I ran 4 miles on Tuesday and 10 miles on Saturday and that hurt so I've committed to running a BIT more during the week as my race is in 4 weeks.)

    Yesterday on a run I was listening to my audiobook on tap (Diary of Anne Frank in preparation for our trip to Amsterdam) and 2/3 the way, I realized how DEPRESSING it was and switched over to LMFAO and that put a little more spring in my step! Sometimes audiobooks are perfectly distracting and other times totally distracting!

    I checked out Hungry Runner Girl and I couldn't help but like her...despite the bubbly, young, freshness of it all. I kept wanting to eye-roll, but she's just so...cute! Just what my attitude needed, I suppose: a switch over to LMFAO to give my day a little more perk. :)

    * Metaphorically that sounds like my life is akin to the Diary of Anne Frank, when really it's nothing of the sort...but it is more The Police or Steve Miller Band.

    PS My running partner has an 8 month old and ran well into her third trimester and started back up 3 months can be done!

  3. PPS I would be remiss if I didn't mention my friend Sarah has written a sequel to her book Run Like a Mother: Train Like a Mother. Check it out!!

  4. BLA - "Dragging" is definitely the operative word in that sentence, but thank you for the shout out! I never would have gotten out there in those sub-zero temps if not for the ELC Running Team. I miss you gals!

    Ang - I know... HRG borders just this side of annoying, yet she's so lovable and full of sunshine and rainbows, I can't help but be a fan. Maybe a dose of her bubbly-ness is just what our salty old souls need :). Thank you again for the wonderful book... it is a gem, and your friend Sarah is awesome!

  5. GO SMJ!! Congrats on the news - listen to your body and you will do great. I want to add more praise to the Run Like a Mother books and all of their accompanying social media, because I am slightly obsessed with it all at the moment. The blog, twitter, FB pages, and podcasts are all full of helpful, fun and sassy tips. Their podcasts alone got me through a very hot solo 8 miler last weekend. Nice that they made your list!

  6. Ali - I had no idea that there were Run Like a Mother podcasts!!! Thank you so much for cluing me in. I've just gotten really into running to podcasts and can't wait to check these out. And you go with the solo 8 miler. Rock on, mama!