Monday, June 6, 2011

Running During Pregnancy and After

Our blog has been taken over by baby stuff, but Tony and I still have a place in our lives for running! I wanted to go through my experience with running and being pregnant, which I've done a little bit, and then afterwards too. I had a hard time finding info on running while you're pregnant. Even though my doctor told me that I could keep running, I didn't really know to what extent because obviously I wouldn't be able to run like I was used to.

For the first 7 months of pregnancy, the only thing I really did differently was monitor my heart rate while running which let me know when I needed to slow down. I read in some articles not to let your heart rate go about 140, others just said to make sure you could still have a conversation while exercising. I found that 140 was pretty hard for me to maintain while actually running during these months. So, I was usually more like in the 150s, but I was able to have a conversation and not feel like I was straining my body. I think it's really about what your body is used to. I even ran a few races during my 4th/5th months, but obviously it was for the fun of it and not for the time or racing aspect. I would say up to about my 6th month, my belly was not an issue. I didn't feel like I had to alter my form which made it even more difficult to be running slower, but not feeling like there was a visibly obvious reason for it.

During my 6th and 7th months, the belly started getting bigger to where I started to shorten my runs and not doing anything longer than 5 miles. I think I also cut back to running 4 days a week and also started to get a little slower. But it still felt great to get out an exercise.

18 weeks

31 weeks

My last few months were the most difficult for me. After 31 weeks I had to switch from full runs to run/walks which progressively went from more running to more walking. I tried to do 3 miles and timed myself running for 10 min, then walking for 5, for example. As I got bigger, I had to lessen the running. I think the least I went down to was 5 min running and 5 walking. My last 3 weeks of pregnancy were the time when I said forget running! It was just getting too hard with such a big belly and I felt like I was not going much faster than a walk. I'm sure the people in our neighborhood thought I was crazy! So I resorted to walking during that time.

After having Cole, I couldn't exercise for 6 weeks because my body had to heal from the delivery. I really lost my desire for running because all my time was focused on the little guy. So it's kind of good that you're not "allowed" to do anything because then you can't feel guilty about not! After my 6 week check up at the doctor, I was given the ok to exercise again and went running that afternoon. This was the last week of April.

The first time I ran again it felt so awkward. I felt like I had no muscle and my arms and legs were just not working together. My abs and back also felt really weak and I had some good stomach cramps going. But I started with 3 miles and stayed at 3 miles for a few weeks. It took about three weeks until I really felt better running, but each day got a little better. In the three weeks since, I've been able to work up to running 4 miles consistently and have done a few 5's and a 7 miler. My pace has also gotten better. I am pretty much out of running in the 9 minute range, and have been closer to 8:30-8:45 unless it's really hot outside. I don't feel like I can do the distances I used to do, but now, six weeks later, I feel like I'm back into it. Running is not a struggle like it was at the beginning.

Running has also helped my sanity. After 6 weeks of doing no exercise and not really leaving the house much, I was ready to get outside and really have some time to myself. Luckily, Tony really gets why I run and has no problem watching Cole while I go out. It's been kind of tricky finding time for both of us to run, and a lot of times I end up feeding Cole while we're eating dinner, but it's working for us right now. Also, Tony runs in the morning most days so I can go in the evening. Even if I don't feel like running that day, I often just do it anyways because it makes me get out of the house and have a break from being a mommy for even just 30 minutes.

Between the two of us, we've also run three races now since Cole was born. Two for Tony and one for me. We've decided to alternate for now. We have two races we both like to do in October, so we'll have to figure something else out for those. We are also hoping to do another marathon within the next year and maybe two for Tony. We know how much work goes into training now and it'll be a lot more challenging with a little one, but we still have that as a goal.

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