Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Running in the First Trimester...What I Learned

Pregnant. One word, eight letters, so life changing! I confirmed I was pregnant about 5 weeks in, but about a week before that I just KNEW I was. I think as runners, we are already pretty in-tune with our bodies and I could just tell. We waited a week to confirm the good news and took a home pregnancy test on Valentine’s Day (immediately after I returned from a 12 mile run, I literally stopped at the drug store on the way home to purchase the test!) When the screen flashed PREGNANT I gasped! And then cried. And then jumped up and down  for a good 5 minutes in my kitchen with my husband.

Later when the news sunk in, I wondered, will I still be able to run? I started running 3 years ago so I didn’t run with my first pregnancy (my son is 6 right now). I had so many questions about how to run and what to expect as a pregnant runner so I wanted to share with you what I have learned (so far).

-Talk to Your Doctor. Talk to your doctor as soon as you get confirmation of your pregnancy. You’ll want their go-ahead to continue your running regime. Exercise is great for the baby and for your metal and physical health and they are usually super supportive about workouts unless your pregnancy is deemed higher-risk or there are other complications.

-Follow other pregnant runners on social media. This was a big one for me! You can find so many others who are going through things as you and seeing other pregnant running moms online can help serve as a great inspiration and motivation. Search popular hashtags like #PregnantRunner #RunningForTwo and #FitPregnancy and follow, comment, and support these other pregnant runners online.

-Go easy on yourself. I can’t emphasize this one enough! You are probably suffering from nausea or extreme fatigue (or both!). Slow down and listen to your body. The best thing I did during these first 12 weeks, was to not worry about distance or pace. I went out and ran for the joy of running and loved (almost) every stride! Some days and weeks you will feel so tired and sick and 3 miles will be a struggle. Its okay to stop and walk. Or take a nap instead. Other weeks, you may even forget you are pregnant because running will feel so good! Embrace those days! Listen to your body.

-Eat often and get something in your belly first thing in the morning. For me, this was vital for squashing my nausea! As soon as I woke up every morning, I’d sip on water, half a cup of coffee, and  eat half a bagel. I’d then work on my computer for about an hour to let that settle before going out for my morning run. It always helped me to have something in my stomach at all times. My doctor recommended eat 5 smaller meals instead of 3 big ones. I think I usually have about 8 smaller meals before the day is done, but that’s another story J

-Plan your running route around bathrooms. Pretty much as soon as the word PREGNANT flashed across that pee stick, by bladder became non-existent. I can usually make it through a shorter distance (4 mile) run without stopping, but after that all bets are off! I have a park bathroom that’s about a mile from my house, so I always try to run routes around that location so that I'm never far from a bathroom.

-Invest in a good supportive sports bra. Your boobs are growing at a rapid weight during early pregnancy and can be really tender. I usually wear tanks with built-in support, but found these weren't supportive enough during the early pregnancy stages, so I would double these up with a sports bra underneath and that seemed to do the trick! If you do find you need to purchase a new sports bra this early on, only buy one or two, because your chest and rib cage will both expand the further you get along.

-Kegels, Squats, and Planks (oh my!). Pregnancy is not the time to slack on your cross training, especially in a few key areas. If you only do one extra move everyday, do kegels, your post-partum self will thank you immensely. Another great exercise to incorporate is deep squats. Stand facing a chair, legs spread shoulder width apart and squat down as far as you can, then squeeze your pelvic floor muscles on the way back up. Core is still king too, even when sporting a baby bump. A strong core will help support your back and help your abs recover faster after your baby is born. All plank variations are an excellent choice to keep your core nice and strong.

-Remember, you are in survival mode. Now is not the time to chase PRs, or sign up for your first ultra marathon. You can still work hard, but most doctors recommend listening to your body and keeping your heart rate under 160 BPM. A good rule of thumb is that if you are winded or your heart rate is racing, chances are your babies is too. Enjoy, appreciate, and embrace your changing body every step of the way and you will have a happy and healthy pregnancy filled with lots of running!

I’ll be back in the Second Trimester talking about what to wear as your body changes, running a half marathon while pregnant, and support bands. Happy Running my pregnant friends!