Tuesday, October 11, 2016

First Trimester Running: the good, the bad, the ugly...and the light at the end of the tunnel

I had big plans for myself for running during pregnancy...

I planned to continue on, business as usual...I thought I might even be able to sneak in several races, and possibly a half-marathon. I mean I was running double digit long runs every weekend leading up to that positive pregnancy test...so why not?
Well, pregnancy slapped me with a big ole' dose of reality pretty quickly, and I learned that I would have to make some BIG changes to these "plans" of mine.

Now that I am on the other side of this "first trimester running" business I thought I would share a few things I learned...

The Good...

Good news...if you have been running prior to getting pregnant and don't have a medical reason not to, your doctor will likely tell you that it is okay to continue...in fact there are many benefits for mama and baby!

The Bad...

You will be slow...MUCH slower than you have every been before. In my case I am sometimes 2-3 minutes slower per mile than I was before. It's a mental game for sure...especially from someone who spent so many years focusing on speed and time goals. I have gotten to a good place with this and although I still have trouble seeing some of my mile times, I realize that this is only temporary...and oh so worth it :)

The Ugly...

Your doctor has cleared you to run...you have accepted that you will be slower...but you just can't seem to get your butt out the door. First trimester fatigue and nausea are no joke...there were days I could hardly get myself dressed let alone convince myself to go for a run...and then on the days that I was able to get myself out the door, all I could muster was a brisk walk with short bursts of jogging, and those short bursts of jogging would get my heart racing and had me breathing like a buffalo.

So...while you may be cleared to run...you physically just may not be able to muster up the energy...and one of the biggest things with running while pregnant is listening to your body! It's not the time to push yourself. I always allowed myself as many walking breaks as necessary and many of my planned "runs" turned into walks.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel...

I struggled...BIG TIME with running from day 1...and at first I was really down on myself. I was sure it was me and that I just wasn't strong enough to tough it out...because look at all the other women who are running while pregnant, look how fast they are, look how many miles they are running...blah, blah, blah. That comparison game is no bueno...every "body" is different.

 I also quickly reminded myself that my body was going through some pretty big (and incredible) changes and it was telling me I needed to slow down...so I did, but I didn't like it :)  It took me a few weeks but I soon got comfortable with my new norm. I ran sans GPS, took walk breaks when necessary, took days off when I needed them...and most of all...I stopped letting myself feel guilty about any of it. #ImGrowingAHumanForCryingOutLoud

And then eventually...I did get some of my energy back, my heart rate regulated, and while I still occasionally breathe like a buffalo (just from walking up the stairs), I have gained back some of my endurance and stamina.

With my energy returning I approached my return to running much like I would after an injury or an extended break. I started VERY slow...I slowly added more running into my walks. I celebrated little milestones...like the day I ran 3 miles without stopping...gosh, you would have thought I ran a marathon...you guys...I was so proud #Perspective

And now, at 14, almost 15 weeks pregnant I can manage a 6 mile run without feeling like I am over-doing it. I also feel more comfortable with my new normal...I am running just for me and the overall well-being of my baby...and who cares if I am slow...who cares if I am not "racing" and on some days when I am extra tired...who cares if I don't run at all :)

The biggest lesson I have learned thus far is that it's SO important to listen to YOUR body...if it's fighting you...then there is probably a reason. Pushing through the pain is not the best of ideas (at least for me) while pregnant. I want to run...heck...I need to run for my sanity...but it's up to my body right now. My plan/goal/hope is to run as far into my pregnancy as possible, but the minute it tells I need to step back...I will.

**Disclaimer: I am not a professional, nor am I qualified to dole out medical advice so please, please, please contact your doctor before beginning or continuing a running or exercise routine.


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