Running While Pregnant: What Changes Should You Make?

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Is it safe to run while your pregnant? Running (and exercising in general) during pregnancy is a sizzling hot topic in today’s society. Thanks to many years of research, it has been proven that running (when done correctly) is healthy and completely safe during pregnancy. Before you begin running during your pregnancy, you need to first consider your pre-pregnancy fitness level.  There are definitely right and wrong ways to run while pregnant.  No matter what level of runner you are pre-pregnancy, running while pregnant will take a shift of mindset. Your body will change as you progress and your mind must change with it. Keep the following facts in mind and your mindset will happen easily.

You Will Slow Down. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. As you progress through your pregnancy, your running speed will naturally decline. It is more important to focus on the actual run (feeling), than focusing on the numbers on your watch.

Running Will Take Much More Effort. Every woman (and runner) is different but, at some point in the first trimester running will begin to seem harder. You’ll breathing will be harder and faster due to a higher heart rate and your center of gravity will shift.

Eat for Two. Runners burn, on average, about 100 calories per mile. It’s important to realize how many calories you’re burning. Make sure you are continuously eating enough for you and your baby. Chocolate milk is a yummy and filling post-run drink (filled with carbohydrates and protein).

Stay in Your Comfort Zone. Stick to what you know. Do not attempt a new type of run while pregnant. If you’ve never completed an obstacle course or never ran a half marathon, the time to begin training for these goals is after your pregnancy not during it. Your mind and body are already experiencing massive changes. Do not add unneeded stress on top of that.

Reshape Your Goals and Restructure Your Training Plan. While pregnant you need to give up your intense race plan (training to run longer and faster).  Instead of setting a goal to hit a new PB during your next race, set a goal to run (or walk or run-walk) X amount of times per week. While pregnant you want to constantly keep moving (running, run-walk, or walking) but, never faster than a conversational pace. This allows you to stay healthy and safe!

Stay Hydrated. For every 30 minutes of running you complete, add in an extra 8 ounces of water. Your body temperature while pregnant is usually 1 degree higher than normal. Overheating while running is dangerous to both the mother and the baby. Before, during, and after running make sure to stay extra hydrated.

Listen to Your Body. It is important to know the difference between discomfort and pain. Discomfort is not feeling great and having minor aches. Pain is much worse and will feel similar to extreme cramping. If you feel pain, you should stop running immediately. Also, stop running if you experience fever, bleeding, dizziness, faintness, or sudden swelling. Don’t push yourself to hard. Make sure you check with your doctor before beginning any running routine while pregnant. Running while pregnant will cause discomfort. You will be worn out, tired, and sore. On the brighter side, running does give you a little more energy and it will help fight off morning sickness!

Your running intensity, speed and distance will depend on whether you were a beginner, intermediate or advanced runner before you became pregnant.  Let’s take a look at some ways to change your running routine at each level.

Beginner

You were new to running prior to your pregnancy.

1st trimester: Walk for 30 minutes 2–3 times per week, with a day of rest in between.

2nd trimester: Begin to boost the intensity of your run. Walk briskly for 5–10 minutes, then power walk (pumping your arms while walking faster) for 25 minutes. End your run by walking slowly for 5 minutes.

3rd trimester: Power walk for 30 minutes. If you don’t feel up to it, use a stair climber, ride a stationary bike, or walk on a treadmill. Do not do interval training, as your hips will more than likely be more unstable then earlier in your pregnancy.

Intermediate

At least 3 months prior to becoming pregnant, you were walking or running consistently for a total of 10–15 miles per week.

1st trimester: Continue your normal routine 3–4 times a week. However, make sure you take a full day of rest in between walks/runs.

2nd and 3rd trimesters: Continue your same routine (with a day of rest in between) if you feel up to it. Always stick to flat terrain and decrease the total numbers of miles if running becomes difficult

Advanced

For at least 6 months before you became pregnant, you were running consistently for a total of 15–20 miles and/or you occasionally competed in races.

1st 2nd and 3rd trimesters: Continue your same routine (with a day of rest in between) if you feel up to it. However, forgo all racing until after your pregnancy. If your regular routine becomes to much, try walking or swimming in a pool until you feel stronger.

 

To help yourself stay focused, alternate running days with an elliptical machine at a gym. Using an elliptical machine is very similar to running. It allows your muscles to work without putting as much pressure on your back and feet.

There will be days when you feel really overwhelmed and sick and you will absolutely not want to run. On days like these, do not beat yourself! Missing one, or two, or eight running days is completely okay. Remember: you are growing a human!  Keep your mind in a happy and positive place. From the beginning, be realistic about your running expectations. Don’t worry about setting a personal best or even setting a target pace. Run for the sole purposes of staying healthy and having fun!

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