I’m so excited to have Julia Jones of Up & Running online running courses guest posting today! This Italian-dwelling American has been a runner and running coach for over fifteen years, including helping hundreds of moms run safely during and after pregnancy. Today she shares her top running tips for a fit and happy nine months!
It was an icy January morning and I was running in preparation for an early spring half marathon. The holidays had just passed and I was proud of myself for not completely letting the nutrition ball drop. But for some reason I’d been feeling listless whenever I put on my running shoes.
Once warmed up I started my intervals, but after the third lap of the track I knew it wasn’t happening. Reluctantly I started walking back home. I felt a little deflated. Why did I feel so spent? Just a month earlier I’d had blood tests with perfect results, but I still had a low grade fatigue all day… what could it be? An array of theories ran through my head but the one I absolutely hadn’t considered was a new pregnancy. Surprise!
I now have two children – a daughter and a son, conceived ten years apart. The latter was when I was forty-two years old. With both pregnancies I ran, and kept physically activity for all forty-two weeks (yep, you read that right!), right up until the day I gave birth.
There was a lot of hoopla in the news recently when U.S. track star Alysia Montano ran an 800 meter race while 34 weeks pregnant. She’d got approval from her doctor who told her to “take it easy”, which translated into clocking 2:32:12. Montano says she ran the race to clear up any misconceptions people might have about running and pregnancy.
Being pregnant used to mean sitting it out for nine months. Today this is no longer recommended, in fact some form of physical activity is strongly encouraged.
A pregnant body goes through an infinite number physiological changes in a few short months. Your hormones are constantly changing, along with rapidly swinging moods. Urgh!
Keeping up your running routine can be an anchor, a familiar activity that helps you maintain physical and mental stability when you need it most. There are some general guidelines to follow for you and your baby’s safety:
1. Talk to your doctor first
Upon seeing that double line on a pregnancy test, consult your physician to rule out any condition that may stop you from running during your pregnancy such as placenta previa, preeclampsia, or preterm labor. With my first pregnancy I got the green light to keep running. With my second they asked me to wait until the second month had passed due to a few earlier medical issues. I maintained my fitness with swimming and walking until I got the all clear to resume my running in my third month.
2. You may need to buy yourself a larger running bra to accommodate your new bust.
I found it more comfortable to wear two bras, one on top of the other, so that the girls would stay securely in place. The mighty Enell sports bra would also do the trick!
3. Once you’ve got the green light from your doctor, keep your running exactly where it is or bring it down a notch.
This is not the time to increase mileage or speed. It goes without saying that if you’re not already a runner you’ll need to put off your running career until the baby comes. If you’re keen to stay in shape: walk, walk and walk some more!
4. You’ll need to hydrate more during pregnancy, even more so if you’re running.
You’ll also have more pressure on your abdomen and feel the need to urinate more often. I have two recommendations: drink water early in the day and when you go running know where the nearest restroom is!
5. Slow down if you feel excessive fatigue, fluid leakage or tightening or contracting in your abdomen.
This is the time to slow your running pace right down, or switch to walking for the rest of your pregnancy.
6. Most pregnant women stop running sometime around the sixth month.
For all the sensational newspaper articles about pregnant women running marathons into their ninth month, six months is when most of us need to shift to walking or other gentler forms of exercise until the baby is born.
Personally, I tried to follow my own path, relying on intuition, common sense and my energy levels. I ran up for up to ninety minutes at a time, often mixing it up with fast walks. Going into my sixth month I really felt my center of balance change and no longer felt comfortable running. From then on until I gave birth I walked like crazy, clocking up about 10k with each workout. I also finished my sessions with a series of strength exercises (light weights, mostly upper body) and some stretching.
I have to admit that the walking was a little boring for my running instinct but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before I was running again. One month after giving birth I was already back on track. Exactly one year later I ran a marathon… and was still breastfeeding. But that’s another story!
Want to know how to get back into running once your bundle of joy has arrived? Head on over to the Up & Running blog where Julia shares more great tips.
Thanks Julia for stopping by my blog and sharing your expertise!
Up & Running is the brainchild of Julia Jones and Shauna Reid. They offer a wide variety of online running courses for women from absolute beginners to experienced runners. I’m a graduate of their program and can highly recommend their product!