Monday, January 21, 2013

Running preggers

There isn't a lot of information out there about running during pregnancy. Most pregnancy books dodge the subject by saying, "Talk with your doctor to see what's right for you." Some people say running diverts the blood away from the baby and to your legs. Some say all the bouncing and shock is bad for baby and your increasingly delicate ligaments and joints. Some say your bones are at risk because baby saps all the calcium. Some say running is simply too strenuous.

When I was pregnant with Bruce and Phoebe, I had an awesome doctor that capped me at 20 minutes of running per day. I was just fine with this. My view is that 1) pregnancy is all about getting a baby at the end rather than a PR so I should put away my somewhat selfish desires anyway, 2) it allows me time to strengthen and stretch, 3) it's nice to slow down and enjoy running just for the joy of running instead of constantly training toward some goal race, and 4) while I will lose some fitness, I will at least retain the comforting routine of running.

In both Bruce and Phoebe's pregnancies, I ran up until a day or two before I was put in the hospital at 33 and 34 weeks. Both came early, both by emergency C-section. I was afraid that their early births would flag me this time around as too high-risk for running. This time, I have a different doctor because I have a different insurance plan that doesn't cover my old doctor. My new doc is awesome though; I'm excited to work with her. Because the prematurity was not caused or related to running, my current doc is just fine with my keeping up the running habit.

When I asked my doctor about running, she said as long as I'm not starting anything new (judging from my heart rate of 46 in the office, they believed me when I said I was a runner) and I feel good then I can keep going. If I am short of breath, I have to stop. If I feel pain or tightening, I have to stop. If I bleed, stop. If it's too icy or too cold (which she defined as below 10 degrees), don't go. Got it. As long as I keep gaining weight consistently, I can keep going (so far, I have absolutely nooooo problem with that).

Running during the first trimester went well, all things considered. I wasn't going to my track club's workouts because I was still recovering my stupid hip injury. In fact, I only did one track workout to test out my hip: I did 4 x 400 solo at 4 weeks running 76-81 seconds each lap. I ran by the drug store on my cooldown and picked up a pregnancy test because I had my suspicions. The next morning, it was confirmed: no more workouts.

I made it for eight weeks without telling my running partner (meaning I could still keep up with her!), then I finally told her because I thought for sure she would see how my tights were getting tighter already and how I was all the sudden top-heavy whereas I used to be more pancake-like. It's hard to hide in spandex. She claimed I wasn't as lumpy as I thought (you're so nice, Anna), but I felt clunky and chunky nonetheless.

Clunky and chunky, but never out of breath or painful. Between weeks 8-12, I missed 4 or 5 morning runs mostly from exhaustion. For the past few months, my run has fit in the 5:15-6 a.m. window. There were a few mornings where nothing could get me out of bed at 5:04. I have a treadmill, so I could have run a little later, but I usually lazed about until 6:30 or 7 when the kids dragged me out of bed, then felt lousy and almost instantly nauseated. Then I really didn't feel like running. Indeed, the days I didn't run were the ones I felt the nastiest. Most of the time, though, I felt like I could outrun the nausea if I got up early and got it done before the Wave of Nausea hit around 10 a.m. and resurfaced again and again throughout the day.

I am lucky enough to not get super-sick early in pregnancy; I don't spend my mornings hovering over the toilet like a lot of pregnant women. I just feel like I could throw up, so I sip my ginger ale and nibble at crackers and hang in there. I am also lucky enough to be able to get a nap most days. Phoebe is still napping 1.5-3 hours most days, and Miss J naps at the same time so I've been sneaking in some Zs. This is a luxury I didn't have when I was pregnant with Bruce or Phoebe as I was still working, and it has been a lifesaver some days.

I think the best rule of thumb regarding running during pregnancy is the cliche "listen to your body" phrase that so many runners roll their eyes at with the addition of "listen to your doctor." Listening to my body meant running five miles at 8.5-minute-per-mile pace on Saturday, enjoying the views of the Charles River and letting the fresh air fill my lungs. Today it meant three miles at 10-minute pace, feeling a little nauseated at 5:30 but not pained or tight. As for listening to my doctor, so far so good. If she tells me to stop in a few weeks, I will. It might take me a little longer to return to fitness postpartum, but I will be back.

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Blogger Amelia Landberg said...

Emily, it's a treat to read this...thank you so much for sharing. Seeing you come back after Phoebe - I know that you will indeed be back! It's so good to learn from you about this oft-dodged subject. Great perspective. Please keep it up. Oh, and I miss you, a lot.


11:37 AM  
Blogger Eisha said...

CONGRATS on #3!!

8:20 PM  

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