I know that I am well out of my first trimester and almost halfway through the second trimester but I thought this would be a good time to share some thoughts on running during the first trimester of pregnancy. Honestly, I don’t want this blog to be too much about my pregnancy and on a personal level, before I got pregnant it bummed me out to read a lot of other pregnancy updates. So I promise to keep these rather brief and informative.
My biggest goal by sharing this is to get rid of some of the misconceptions about pregnancy and exercise and to also share how running can actually be helpful during your first trimester of pregnancy. Please keep in mind that I am most definitely not a doctor or medical expert. I am however a certified running coach and an overly cautious expecting mother. You should always consult your own doctor or other medical professional about your own experiences.
When I first got pregnant I was very nervous about running and other workouts. I didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize this new life inside of me. Every time I had an appointment I would ask questions about my exercise routines and each time I got the same go ahead to do whatever my body felt like doing.
Most often you can continue doing just about any activity you did before getting pregnant minus anything extreme or as my doctor also mentioned, anything that involves punching or kicking. At the time my husband was going on a luging trip and she said that would most definitely be considered “extreme.” She also recommended that I not go on extreme rides at Disney which was wonderful because I was happy to have an excuse not to cry like a baby on roller coasters!
In my case I was given the go ahead during the first trimester to continue running as I normally do and just scale back the intensity of my runs. I was able to continue the same amount of mileage each week but I did slow my runs down by 30 seconds to a minute per mile. As the trimester progressed towards the end I naturally began to slow down to a minute per mile below what I normally ran. At times this could be frustrating but I appreciated that my body was able to force me into that lower intensity. I definitely worked at ignoring my GPS and stopped focusing on my splits.
As you may remember I did run a 10k and used the conversation pace rule to get me through. If you are able to run and hold a conversation, you are at a low enough intensity. This doesn’t have to be a deep conversation, just a casual and breathy chat. In fact, I chatted to myself during the race to make sure I stayed in that range. Oh yeah, and I finished 3rd overall! I promised Rock after that race that the baby and I would sit out races until after their birthday. My competitive nature could easily get the best of me.
Rock and I were most concerned about whether running could harm our new little one. Fortunately, I have been reassured by several doctors and at various appointments that my running is a natural part of my daily routine and my body responds to running in a positive and healthy way. My doctor has emphasized to me over and over again that nothing about running is harmful to the baby. In fact, many elite runners often continue with their speed work and long runs far into their pregnancies.
So many people are shocked to hear that I continue to run and coach. Honestly, I think we are so lucky to have such amazing research that shows how exercise (including running) can be beneficial to new moms and their babies. As long as we are thoughtful about how we exercise there is nothing wrong with activities during a normal healthy pregnancy.
Running had one surprisingly awesome affect on me during the first trimester. It actually helped with morning sickness. On top of the constant nausea I had a cloud of exhaustion hanging over me for 13 weeks. Despite the tired and sick feeling, I managed to run just about six days per week for approximately 7-9 miles each day. Not only did the running get rid of the nausea but it also really helped give me a kick in the pants that kept me going the rest of the day.
I have also been known to run to eat. Yes, it is sad but true. And during these past few months I have somehow gone from a daily salad eater, who preferred veggies over bread, to a bagel monger. If everything keeps going this way I am going to turn into a carbohydrate. Fortunately I think the running helped me make somewhat better choices and has also helped me avoid gaining too much weight right from the start.
Truth be told, I feel that running is a part of my life. It is a part of who I see myself as and it keeps me grounded mentally. Being able to stick to my daily runs has helped me sort out my crazy emotions and feel really great. Here’s hoping the next few months continue to allow me to stick to this routine. I am looking forward to waddling on the Lakefront Path this summer!