Running has always been my one true love when it comes to fitness. Even when I dabble in other areas of fitness focus, I always come back to my tried and true – running. However, pregnancy has presented some challenges when it comes to running and as I approach 31 weeks pregnant, I’m coming to the realization that my running days are numbered. I wanted to recap how running was for me in the 2nd trimester (and I’ll do an update on the 3rd trimester later) to help other pregnant runners know what they might expect. Every pregnancy and person is different and I’ve seen women run races up til their due date or chose not to run at all during pregnancy, so of course my experience is just one of many and yours won’t be exactly the same.
To give any non-regular readers some background on my running background pre-pregnancy, I started running/racing long distances (half marathons) in 2010, ran my first full marathon in 2011, my first (and only) Ironman in 2012 and then ran 3 more marathons from 2013-2014 trying to qualify for Boston. My last marathon was CIM in December 2014 and I trained at a range of 45-55 miles per week for the majority of the fall and winter. I ran a 3:35:26 at CIM so my “easy” pace was in the mid 8s/low 9s and my race pace for a half marathon was about 7:45. I got pregnant less than 1 month after CIM so I was in peak running shape at the start of my pregnancy.
2nd Trimester Running Mileage and Paces:
April (~Weeks 14-18 of pregnancy): 56 Miles, average pace/mile ~10-11 min/mile
May (~Weeks 19-23): 73 miles, average pace/mile ~11-12 min/mile
June (~Weeks 24-28): 20 miles average pace/mile ~12-15 min/mile
Running in the 2nd Trimester
I started the 2nd trimester still feeling pretty good while running. I had run a half marathon at both 6 weeks and 12 weeks and then started to train to run the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon (which I planned to run at 23 weeks). I ran 5 5ks (3 timed runs plus the 5k during Wanderlust and the Girls on the Run 5k) during the 2nd trimester, all of which were right around 28-30 minutes, which I considered pretty good since my training runs were in the 10-11 minute range at the time. I put in several runs over 8 miles and two runs over 10 miles between weeks 14-21 of pregnancy in order to train for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon.
The first 10+ mile run felt really good and the 2nd one felt pretty bad. The first 10 miler was on the trails and I took my time and walked up hills. I ran with my cousin for part of it and enjoyed new scenery on the trails and took my time. The 2nd 10 mile run run was on the familiar coast path/street (concrete/asphalt) and I was alone. It was a struggle and there were definitely moments when I questioned how fun it would be to run the Rock n’ Roll San Diego half marathon in two weeks. I ended up getting a 24 hour stomach flu the day before the race and decided not to run it at all, my first ever DNS! I think I could have finished the race and overall it would have been a positive experience, but I also think it would have been quite uncomfortable! There was a part of me that was relieved when I had to back out of the race, but another big part of me was really sad to miss out on the experience since I love racing and I knew it would be my last of pregnancy and possibly even the year!
After missing RnR SD, I cut back on my running since I no longer had something to train for (for the first time in 5 years!). I focused on other things (yoga, barre, spin, hiking, walking, squatting) but still ran occasionally with friends or on my own. I stopped running more than 4.5 miles at a time and walk breaks started to be more of the norm. I also started using a “belly bra” to help support my growing belly and found that although it helped, I still felt some discomfort while running. The bathroom breaks started to get even more frequent (I think my record was 3 bathroom breaks during a 4 mile run).
My interest in running started to wane toward the end of the trimester due to the fact that I rarely had a friend to run with (I can’t keep up anymore and/or their schedules just didn’t fit with mine anymore), I had to plan run routes around bathrooms, my belly hurt and I there wasn’t a lot of variety in my running anymore (I missed tempo runs, long runs,and track workouts). My pace was now in the 11-12 min/mile range while actually running but I often stopped to walk so it I found it took me about 40-45 minutes to run the 3.2 mile rail loop near by house (which requires a lot of walking since it has about 1,000 feet of climbing!). I also noticed that my body took longer to recover from runs than from other, lower impact exercises. However, I still loved to run enough to continue occasionally through end of the 2nd trimester.
At 31 weeks, I am still running! But it’s getting slower and slower. I think I keep hanging on because it’s hard for me to imagine NOT running for months which is the reality if I give up now (2 months til due date + likely at least 1 month postpartum). I just love the fresh air, views and the way that running makes me feel a little too much!!!
If you’ve been pregnant, what was your experience with running? How far into pregnancy did you run and what was your primary motivation?