As a runner and someone who has been an athlete my entire life, I’m used to having control over my body. And I know many runners share a similar sentiment — we like to know and be able to control our paces, training schedule, race routes, heart rates, and whatever else will improve performance. Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that all that control was going to be thrown out the window during my first pregnancy. With that said, staying active was a hugely important cornerstone for my mental and physical health during pregnancy. So how exactly do you stay active or continue running when your body and hormones are changing every day?
Throughout the nine months of my pregnancy, I found some tips and tricks that worked to help me stay active while growing my baby. (Note: everyone is different and you should always chat with your doctor about exercising while pregnant!)
Hydrate & Eat Well
With your changing body comes an increased thirst and appetite. Plus, you’re a lot more prone to dehydration while you’re pregnant (especially if you’re suffering from morning sickness) so get ahead of it by staying hydrated and eating well. Take a water bottle with you on runs and add your favorite electrolyte supplement if you feel like you just aren’t getting enough fluids.
Dress the Part
There’s no getting around it. You will need different (read: bigger) running clothes as your body changes. Bigger and more supportive sports bras as well as sized up leggings, shorts and tops were a must for me. A tip? If you’re running races during your pregnancy, use them as a chance to order a race shirt in a bigger size so you don’t have to purchase additional shirts! I also found that I needed more cushioned shoes (along with my Balega Hidden Comforts) to support the additional weight I’d gained.
Drop the Comparison
As a competitive person, the first thing I had to do was let go of comparison. I love spending time on social media, but at times I needed to give myself a break. This time away from social media allowed me to get away from comparing myself with other pregnant runners and focus on strategies that worked for me. Everyone’s pregnancy is different and it’s hard enough without comparing yourself to strangers. I also had to stop comparing my pregnant running to my pre-pregnancy running and instead, I tried to just enjoy the process!
Skip the Data
I love Strava as much as the next running nerd, but during pregnancy, I decided not to log in as often. While I did run with my Garmin the majority of my pregnancy, I made a conscious effort not to look at my watch for pace. Instead, I would set the watch face to heart rate or time and focus on how the run felt instead of how fast I was running. This simple shift really took the pressure off and allowed me to enjoy each mile, regardless of how long it took!
Take on a New Perspective
When pregnancy-related sciatica derailed my plans of running the Chicago Marathon at 26 weeks, I was devastated. I wanted the experience and had put a ton of unnecessary pressure on myself to complete the race. I ended up dropping out and opted to cheer instead, something I’d never done at a major marathon before! I ended up having a blast cheering and since I took an extra week of rest, I was able to complete a half marathon a week later.
Connect with a Community
Staying connected to my community during pregnancy was really important! In addition to sticking with my running club’s track workouts and group runs, I also found a prenatal yoga class. Joining a prenatal yoga class was great for me physically, but it also allowed me to connect with other women going through the same thing at the same time.
Just Do Something
Once I hit my third trimester I basically stopped sleeping. Between heartburn, baby kicks and insomnia, each night just seemed to go on forever! The one thing that made me feel better? Movement. I made it my mantra to “just do something” every day. Whether it was a walk with the dog, go to a yoga class, or on a run, I always felt more relaxed after fresh air and some kind of physical activity!
Pregnancy is different for everyone and for me it meant readjusting my expectations for running. At the end of the day, there’s no one size fits all “running while pregnant” guide. However, I found that staying active without overdoing it worked for me and seemed to help me during labor, too!