Baby on Board!
Pregnancy doesn’t have to mean the end of your running routine. For most women, exercise during pregnancy is very safe and is strongly encouraged! Most medical experts agree that staying fit and healthy during your pregnancy can relieve back pain, boost energy levels, improve sleep, and prevent excess weight gain.
Before you lace up, make sure to get the okay from your doctor. Once you are cleared for running, keep these tips in mind to make life as a pregnant runner easier and much more enjoyable!
1. Gear - Now more than ever, having the right gear can make all the difference. Make sure you have a good supportive running shoe that fits properly. Your shoe size might change during pregnancy, so make sure you are wearing a shoe that fits your current size, not your pre-pregnancy size. As your belly grows, be sure to stock up on comfortable pants or shorts and long tops. Many maternity clothing lines offer active options, but going up a size in your favorite brands might work just as well. Your breasts will likely grow during your pregnancy and may be sensitive, so invest in a few supportive sports bras. Your increased weight and changing shape may also necessitate a few additional pieces of supportive clothing. Compression socks can help relieve the stress on your calves and feet and might be just the thing for pregnant runners suffering from leg cramps. A support belt can help lift and stabilize your belly, giving your back some extra support and keeping baby off your bladder!
2. Goals - Pregnancy is not the time to push your limits. Realize that your pace and endurance will drop as your belly grows – and that’s okay! You are running for your health and for the health of your baby, not for speed. It’s great to set small, realistic goals for your pregnant training, but give yourself a break and be flexible. Some days your body will just not respond how you would like it to and you will need to back off or walk…or even stop…and that is perfectly acceptable.
3. Safety - Plan to run during daylight on smooth, even surfaces to reduce the risk of falling. Listen to your body and do not overdo it. Chris Heuisler, a veteran marathoner and running coach, explains:
You have to listen to your body, because it will begin to dictate how much you can and can’t work out. If your heart rate is spiking, so is your baby’s. If you’re struggling to breathe, so is your baby. Have fun, but don’t put unnecessary stress on the baby.
A good rule of thumb is to exercise at an intensity level that allows you to speak without struggling or gasping. If you’re working too hard to carry on a conversation, you’re working too hard. Additionally, if you experience any bleeding, uterine cramping, dizziness, chest pain, or decreased fetal movements, stop immediately and call your doctor.
4. Hydration - As a pregnant runner, it is extremely important to hydrate properly before, during, and after running. Your body temperature is increased during pregnancy and your fluid needs are greater. If your runs don’t take you near water fountains, consider carrying a hand-held water bottle. On the flip side, realize that you’ll likely need access to a bathroom before, during, and after your run!
Running for two can be a healthy, enjoyable experience if you keep these tips in mind. Take care of yourself, take care of your little one, and take pride in your body and everything you accomplish with each step you take.