I’m well into my second trimester now (21 weeks) and felt the inspiration to share some updates about my attempt to continue running while pregnant. If you read the second trimester installment of Salty’s What to Expect from Running When You’re Expecting, you’d think that in the second trimester you’ll completely forget you’re pregnant; everyday will be a good day; you’ll be able to get your mileage back up to where you were before your first trimester; you can continue racing well into your second trimester; your hormones will be back in whack and you’ll feel completely stable; and BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Well, I can’t say I completely agree with this glass half full, rose-colored glasses perspective. Now, don’t get me wrong, the fatigue of the first trimester: GONE! The nausea and extreme aversions to certain smells: GONE! The strange cravings for only plain mashed potatoes and cheetos: GONE!
But, I can’t say I forget I’m pregnant. Not even close. Especially when it comes to lacing up my shoes.
In the literature that is out there, running during the second trimester seems to be the ‘easiest’ and when you feel most ‘normal.’ I wish that were true for me. Instead, I’ve been feeling pretty inadequate when it comes to the whole running while pregnant thing. The once passion I had to get out of bed in the morning and go on a brisk 5 miler just isn’t there anymore. Running is starting to feel like a chore, which is something I never want it to be. Two miles is enough most days. I’m trying to decide whether or not continuing daily jogs is something my body really wants to do, or just feels like it should do because it’s all I’ve ever known.
Research has shown that exercise during the second trimester of pregnancy can be crucial in keeping up your energy level and helping you sleep well at night. It can also help prepare your body for labor (Mayo Clinic, 2010). The key to exercise during pregnancy is to take it “slow and steady.” Problem is, I think I’ve begun to focus too much on the feelings of inadequacy that come along with that whole “slow” part.
I don’t want to complain about being pregnant. Don’t get me wrong. I have many close friends who have endured endless fertility treatments which sound like a real treat (including our very own Clove) and close family members who have cried through three or four of the most dreaded thing out there, miscarriages. I can feel empathy but can’t even come close to truly feeling that type of pain. If my pain is only round ligament pain, bloated belly, and heartburn, well…I really shouldn’t be complaining at all. If it means a healthy baby, I’m game. So, please take my little ventilation session with a grain of salt (y)! Even if I don’t enjoy running right now, I know I’ll be overjoyed with a human being in just a few short months.
Now, it may be the fact that it’s been frigid and the streets around my neighborhood have been covered in ice and snow for the past, oh, million months. I’m not a fan of the treadmill AT ALL, and I’ve considered sticking needles in my eyes before stepping foot on one for another day. My favorite part of running is the fresh air and scenery, and the treadmill can provide none of that. But, when it comes down to it, I feel like I’ve lost my gumption…my ‘mo jo’…my passion… for all things running since becoming prego. And, it kinda stinks.
I’m the type that still feels like exercise is a necessity most days, so I’ve continued to at least jog 2-3 miles per day. As an alternative, I’ve resorted to in-house videos of prenatal pilates and yoga. My hubs and I have considered joining back up at the gym or YMCA, but we’re really trying to hunker down and penny-pinch in anticipation of our new arrival and all the necessary expenses that will entail. So, I feel pretty limited in my exercise options, at least until it warms up in Ohio, which may not happen until AFTER baby is born the rate this winter is going.
I will admit that I get a little jealous when I see friends posting about their 20-milers and others chatting about how awesome their spin class was last night. I do miss the ‘high’ feeling that comes around with intense work-outs and exhilarating long runs. I miss the running and racing community and feel a little out-of-the-loop. My Garmin has been collecting dust and my cute Brooks tanks don’t look so cute anymore. Mentally, I feel better after I run, but physically, it’s just not the same. I have to pee about 5 minutes into the run, and my belly usually cramps regardless of time of day or what I eat.
The other day, I was fortunate enough to run a 5k with my mom. She’s a walker (a very FAST, competitive walker) who can hold a 12 minute – 12:30 pace (for an entire marathon, nonetheless). I decided I’d jog alongside her. We averaged 12:36 minute miles (again, she was walking and I was running… just to keep up!), and I felt like that was just about all my body could handle. When a 6:30 pace used to feel pretty effortless for a 5k just a few months ago, I do have to admit that my ego is also taking a blow.
Tips for Handling a Pregnancy Running Slump
With all of this said, I’d like to offer my 2 cents on what has worked for me in terms of not over-analyzing or focusing on the negatives of running setbacks during this, my second trimester:
1.) Run for time. On most runs these days, I just run in ‘time’ units, not miles. For example, instead of doing 3 miles, I’ll just run/jog for 30 minutes and call it a day. That way, I can’t obsess about how ‘slow’ I’m getting.
2. Go with the flow. I’ve realized that I may need to shorten or simplify workouts over time as this belly expands. Some days are just not going to be good exercise/running days, and that’s okay. Most women can comfortably manage 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as walking or swimming) three to seven days each week without difficulty, but we are each our own person and should listen to our own bodies.
3.) No comparing! Comparing my weekly mileage or paces with other runners, at this point, just isn’t a good idea. It seems to be a trigger to me and makes me feel inadequate, so I simply don’t look at facebook as much and I even don’t look at the other salty’s training posts (still rooting for you, ladies!).
4.) Cross-train. On days where a run just doesn’t feel right, it’s okay to get in ‘exercise’ in a non-traditional manner. Breaking a sweat can happen in every day activities. Here are some suggestions: housework (sweeping, vacuuming, gardening, window-washing); dancing; simply making it a point to walk around the office more.
Maybe once the sunshine comes, the ice melts and the birds start chirping, I’ll get a little running mojo back into my blood. In the meantime, I feel pretty lethargic with running. I’m already thinking about races I’d like to enter once I pop this babe out!! Maybe this little break from racing will be the best thing for me in the long run.
Did you have any feelings of inadequacy in running while pregnant?
How many weeks pregnant were you until you stopped running (or did you run up until the day you gave birth)?
Did your second trimester feel the best? How about third? How long did it take you post-partum to get back to the times you were running pre-pregnancy?