This is the last of the posts I wrote while still in the first trimester. Since I couldn’t publish anything they’re coming a bit late but hopefully still helpful information for anyone out there now or in the future who may be going through the same thing. I will note that no matter what worked for one person, it may not work for you. Listen to your body and don’t assume because I can or can’t do something that it means you can or can’t too!
One thing I knew for sure when I got pregnant was that I would continue to exercise and to run. Running is such a big part of my life and in no way do I want to give it up. I am, of course, realistic and know that at some point the joy of running will be lost and it’ll probably be more uncomfortable than it’s worth. That’s when I’ll stop (or if my doctor says I must stop of course). At that point I’ll probably substitute with walking. As for strength training and pre-natal yoga, I would love to continue until my due date.
Funnily enough, my baby spent the first 31 days after conception (which was circa NYE) running every day. Asia and I took on a challenge to run at least 3.1 miles and plank at least 1 minute for every day in January. Most days, we really only ran 3.1 miles, although I did get one “long run” of 8.4 miles in to prepare for the Surf City Half Marathon on February 1st. Because I just came off a year of hardcore marathon training (Phoenix Marathon March 1st, CIM in December and RnR San Diego half in June), my body is very used to running and I felt safe running with my baby.
The biggest change right away was my pace. At first, I was consciously running slower (I hadn’t met with my doctor yet but had read that as long as you can comfortably talk while running and continue to hydrate, you are safe), but as time went on my pace was slowed by force. As a 3:35 marathoner and 1:40 half marathoner, my “comfortably hard pace” was somewhere in the high 7s/low 8s and my “easy” pace was previously in the high 8s/low 9s. Due to the heart rate training I did with my coach Maria in the beginning of last year, I’m more than comfortable running a recovery run in the 10 min/mile range. However, paces in the high 10s and even 11 min/miles are not totally normal for me and as the weeks went by, more and more and more runs were in this range. Now, at 14 weeks, all of my runs are in the 10s or 11s. Sometimes I walk up hills. I don’t let my heart rate get out of control and I definitely take it down or modify a workout if it’s really hot outside (thanks to this bizarre winter we’re having in California, there have been a few hot days!).
So far in this pregnancy, I have ran two half marathons. I was happy when Mike offered to run both of them with me even though my pace is not very comfortable for him (his PR is 1:30 in the half)! During our first race, Surf City, I didn’t wear a timing chip. I was too worried that someone would look up my time and know I was pregnant! I was only 6 weeks along and very much at the miscarriage danger zone so privacy was key. I did, however, wear my Garmin and was pleasantly surprised to see that we clocked in just under a 10 min/mile pace (finish time around 2:10, even with a ton of weaving around other runners/walkers (we started with my parents and the 2:45 pace group), a bathroom break and a few water stops (I ran with my Nathan handheld water bottle and stopped to completely fill it up twice).
The 2nd half marathon, Zion, I have a full race recap on. You can read about it here. My pace got much slower and that coupled with 3 bathroom breaks, photo opportunities, a tough course (elevation, headwind and a net incline of 400 feet), mean that we finished with a personal worst time for me, 2:35. I was still happy to have finished feeling good and really could care less about my time. I didn’t wear my Garmin this time (I actually brought it to Zion but just forgot to put it on) and didn’t check on my finish time until the day after. Totally unlike me!
When talking to my doctor about running, she said as long as I was continuing activity I was previously doing, listening to my body, hydrating and able to talk while running, it was fine to continue. I’ve already decided that I don’t feel comfortable running a marathon or anything longer than a half marathon while pregnant, but that is totally up to the individual and I respect anyone who decides to run any distance! They key thing is not to push it and let yourself become exhausted – if you can safely run a marathon without being exhausted (I know I can’t), then it’s safe to do so. I know I can run a half marathon without being exhausted whereas for most people, a half marathon is extreme. The key is knowing your body and doing what is comfortable for you.
Strength Training & Yoga
I’ve continued to practice Pilates and have picked up strength training with Xtend Barre (which has a bit more cardio involved than other barre classes I’ve taken) and flexibility with yoga. I always avoid doing any moves that make me uncomfortable and don’t push myself as hard in class (I check my ego at the door). There’s conflicting advice on how much abdominal work is ok during pregnancy but what I’ve decided is that I’ll do it until I physically can’t anymore. My doctor said at some point crunches won’t really work but that planking is safe and effective. I have a feeling that Pilates will get phased out of my workout routine since it’s SO core intensive, but for now, I’m sticking with it!
In the first trimester, I haven’t told any of my instructors I’m pregnant, except for one yoga instructor. The yoga instructor was really helpful because she warned me to avoid an inversions (which I probably wouldn’t have done anyway) and deep twists. And of course, hot yoga is a no-no. I tend to stick to warm/unheated classes that are focused on stretching or are safe for all levels. No advanced classes for me!
I’ve found that working out really helps with my morning sickness (I started feeling nauseous 24/7 starting at week 5) and exhaustion. I tend to get most tired at the end of the day so scheduling morning workouts (lots of 6 am workouts) has been the key for me. It’s hard to get up but actually not any worse than pre-pregnancy, especially since I tend to fall asleep by 9:30 PM at the latest most nights.
I’ve been lucky enough to muster the energy to work out almost every day since becoming pregnant. I take rest days when I feel I need them but in general, I’ve felt better for working out so I keep doing it. One of the biggest changes is that in the mornings I’d have to eat a snack before a 6 a.m. workout. I usually have a banana, toast or crackers. I used to just power through on an empty stomach. I also bring crackers to class in case I start to feel nauseous and need to eat something (luckily this hasn’t happened).
The first trimester was definitely more challenging than I had ever imagined – nausea (read about my first trimester nausea and weight gain here) and exhaustion were just the beginning of the list of symptoms I suffered from. But, staying active helped me stay sane through it all!
Were you able to workout in the first trimester?