5 Things Every Runner Needs to Know Before Getting Pregnant

I‘m not sure what motherhood looks like to my running friends that don’t have any children yet, but I can’t be doing it too wrong since most of them talk often about their desire to have kids of their own. At least I haven’t scared them away from becoming parents! Until now.

Kidding! None of these things I’m about to tell you is all that bad, even if it sounds like it. I will save you the drippy how-great-motherhood stuff-is speech, but I assure you all the speeches you have heard thus far do not do the experience justice. That being said, here are five of the surprises possibly awaiting should you follow along down the parenthood path.

1. When you’re pregnant, despite all your pre-pregnancy hopes you may not want to run much. Before I became pregnant with my first child I envisioned my knocked up self as super fit race-prime self with a pillow under my shirt. I imagined running miles and miles happily glowing and showing off my adorable bump under my spandex. The truth was that during the first trimester I was beyond exhausted before I was even showing and nauseous 100% of the time. I was even a little scared, especially the first time. I hadn’t known any pregnant runners at the time and I was petrified I’d screw something up. My motivation to run took the biggest nose dive it has ever taken. I think I had more motivation to run when I had a 103 fever and the flu than I did during the first trimester of both pregnancies. It took every pep talk I could muster to manage about 20 miles a week during the first trimester. Things were better the second and much of the third trimester, but by then I was out of shape from only running 20 miles a week and had other fun things to deal with like shooting pain in my pelvis and achy ligaments around my belly.

2. Which means you might gain a ton of weight. So, yeah. I imagined my pregnant running self would look like this:

An old adidas ad courtesy of Charles Hayden at chayden.net.

What I actually got was this:

8 months pregnant and finishing my anchor leg of the Akron Marathon relay.

Sure, I didn’t look terrible as far as pregnant people go but I gained 50 lbs. both times as demonstrated by my chunko legs and crazy chubby face. By the way, neither child was 50 lbs. at birth!

3. Which means that quite possibly after the baby finally comes out none of your old clothes will fit you for a long time. I actually brought pre-pregnancy clothes to the hospital both times. That stuff, even if it’s your fat clothes, is probably not going to fit you for several weeks to months if ever. At 3.5 weeks pregnant with my daughter, before I even found out about her existence, I looked like this:

3.5 weeks pregnant and blissfully ignorant.

3.5 weeks after I delivered her I looked like this:

I love this photo (4 generations of awesome women!) but there's no denying I am fat, yo!

Do you think that singlet and running shorts would fit on the mommy in that photo. NO! Pack maternity clothes in your hospital bag and save your significant other a trip home searching for something muumuu shaped to bring to you so you don’t have to wear a hospital gown on your drive home from the hospital.

4. Also, once that baby comes out you likely won’t sleep well for a long time. Maybe years. You’ve heard the whole no-sleep thing before, but I found it different than what everyone told me it would be. Sure, I was literally up all night for a few weeks after each baby was born, but 3 years later and I can probably count on one hand the nights when I haven’t had to tend to a kid in the middle of the night. That means when you’re dog tired after running 75 mile weeks you will likely not enjoy continuous sleep. Also, kids don’t care that the only time you can get a workout in is at 5:00 a.m. They will figure that out and decide to be pains-in-the-@$$es at 4:59 and screw up all your plans. But they are cute and eventually develop an attention span to watch a show while mommy pounds out some miles on the treadmill in the basement.

5. Oh, and make sure you own a lot of black running shorts. I was incredibly dismayed at my lack of bladder control while running after I had my first child. It took about 5 months before I stopped regularly peeing my pants while running. I wore pads and was mortified. By the time my second came around I didn’t care so much. I just wore black spandex and brought a change of shorts so I didn’t smell homeless while we ate lunch and played on the swings after our stroller runs. I probably should have done more kegels.

Bonus: You might also forget what day it is. For instance, I just realized today is Thursday and not Friday.

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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