*Disclaimer – please note that all the information in this blog post is my personal experience of running & exercise during pregnancy. If you have any concerns or experience pain or discomfort at any time please consult your midwife or GP before continuing to exercise*
So if you are reading this, I am assuming that you are either currently pregnant too, so if so – CONGRATULATIONS! Or perhaps you are planning on getting pregnant in the future and are thinking about how you are going to still exercise & do the things you enjoy (in this case I am going to be talking about running)
I am going to share my thoughts & experiences of how exercising has been for me so far and hopefully it will help to reassure any of you that are maybe struggling or putting pressure on yourself when it comes to keeping fit.
When I first found out I was pregnant, suddenly a lot of things clicked into place and made me think ‘ohhhhh that’s why I felt so rubbish on that run’ or ‘thats why I had to stop after a few miles and jump on the tube’ – because my body had just started the magical process of growing another human being, and although at this stage my baby was approximately the size of a poppy seed, it was everything else going on that was making me feel like one big, tired, hormonal mess!
I will be completely honest, that first week after we found out I was very over cautious, in fact I didn’t run for a few days after our first positive test in case I ‘hurt the baby’ and I also just think my brain had gone into overdrive and running suddenly fell to the bottom of the priority list.
We worked out that I was approx 4 weeks pregnant when we found out, which is still very early on and really before you get any obvious pregnancy symptoms. The only thing I really found for those first couple of weeks was that I just felt tired, and pretty much found any excuse to have a nap!
After a few days I decided to put my trainers back on and head out for some runs. I consciously made the decision that I was really going to step back on the intensity of my workouts and just take it really easy;
- Because I didn’t really have the energy to train hard
- Because I didn’t want to raise my HR too high
- Because I didn’t have any reason to! I wasn’t going to be racing for PBs any time soon so thought I would finally just take all the pressure off with training.
The first couple of weeks carried on like this, just lots of short, easy paced runs – I will admit I was missing pushing myself, but I knew I would rather finish a run feeling good, then feeling absolutely exhausted. But I do remember thinking to myself that running still felt enjoyable, and I was feeling pretty positive that I would be able to keep this up! Then…. the dreaded morning sickness started.
Now, compared to most I do feel quite fortunate. I was never actually sick, but don’t be fooled, it doesn’t mean I had it easy (and if anyone ever tells you that, feel free to give them a slap) From around Week 7 I felt constantly nauseas, from the moment I woke up pretty much to when I went to bed. It was draining, and some days the last thing I wanted to do was get out and go for a run or do a workout – so I didn’t! And instead just took to going for a short walk each day so I at least got some fresh air.
This lasted for pretty much the whole of March – some weeks I ran once or twice, others I didn’t at all. And yeah, at the time I will be honest, it felt completely crap! Those were probably the most miserable weeks of pregnancy so far, as not only was I feeling full of anxiety as we were waiting for our 12 week scan, I wasn’t even able to go out for an enjoyable run to clear my head.
I started to really worry that perhaps my pregnancy running journey was over before it even began. If I couldn’t run when I was 2-3 months pregnant how on earth was I going to run when I was further along?! Surely I would just feel worse? I felt pretty fed up and I found it really hard to not compare myself to other pregnant women who appeared to be ‘smashing it’ and wondering why I wasn’t able to!
But ladies, I promise you… this feeling does not last forever! I have had countless messages on Instagram from women in their first trimester who went through the same thing that I did, worrying that it will last forever and they won’t be able to run again, and I tell everyone the same thing… for most of us, once we hit that 12/13 week mark, we start to feel remarkably better! Our energy levels pick back up, the constant nausea/sickness disappears, and hopefully some of that anxiety has been lifted after your first scan. When this happened to me, I honestly felt like a new woman, and it started to show in all areas of my life, including running and exercise.
Whilst writing this I am currently 23 weeks pregnant, which means I have finally reached over half way and I am coming up to the 6 month mark (which just feels mad when I think about it!) and I am still managing to exercise regularly, and actually enjoy it, well most of the time at least!
I have been managing to run 4-5 times a week, but I am still taking it pretty easy. I choose to run between 3-5 miles, and this will purely just depend on how I feel on the day. My average pace is the slowest it has ever been, and my current 5k time is approximately 13 minutes slower than my PB! I normally run between 17-19 miles a week, and right now that feels good for me, but as soon as it stops feeling good, I will cut back on this too.
I understand for some people, this may sound like a lot, but it is always important to remember that everyone is different, and how much you exercised before pregnancy will make a difference too. So in my case, to put it into context if I was training for an event I would on average be running 50-60 miles a week, run 7-8 times a week (double days), doing a mix of track, hills, park runs, long runs etc and do two intense S&C sessions in the gym per week. So when people tell me to take it easy… trust me, I am!
But I get it, it is tough not to get caught up in the comparison game, especially on Social Media, but just remember that for a lot of people their account is their highlight reel, and although they might post about the amazing run they had that day, they may not mention that they day before they spent the day with their head down the toilet or unable to get out of bed because they felt so exhausted!
Overall though, the thing that I say to the women that message me over and over again is that now is really not the time to be pushing yourself or feeling guilt about not going for a run. A lot of the time, if you lose motivation it is your bodies way of telling you to take a step back and have a rest, and now more than ever it’s important that you listen to those signs.
Also, I do understand that for some people running just stops being enjoyable, and again, if that is the case, why force it?! We are obviously in a really tough time at the moment and with gyms being closed it does limit what else we can do – for example I would have loved to have been able to swim during my pregnancy, but that just hasn’t happened! But if running isn’t working for you, there are still other things you can do. And even if you are still running, these will still be great to add alongside it.
- Walking – no need for any equipment, or any experience. Just aim to go for a 30 minute walk every day if nothing else!
- Strength & Conditioning – there are some great Pre & Post Natal personal trainers out there at the moment providing lots of great content online, so you can follow along without even needing to leave your house. I would recommend checking out the following accounts
- Pelvic Floor Exercises – now I thought I would just slip this one in, regardless of whatever level of exercise you are doing, ladies – don’t neglect your pelvic floor! if you are not sure where to start, make sure you follow these accounts.
Finally, and this may sound trivial, but being comfortable has made a big difference to me when I have been running & working out. I know that some people feel that splashing out on maternity wear is a waste of time, but once I got clothes that fitted properly and felt supportive it made such a difference, and actually made me feel more motivated too. Here are a few items that I would recommend adding to your maternity wardrobe;
Sports Bra – Latched UK
Leggings – ASOS
Running Vests – ASOS
Shorts – Latched UK
I hope that for those of you that need it, you found this blog useful, and if you are currently pregnant I wish you all the best for the rest of your pregnancy!
….and for anyone that is really nosy, you can follow all of my pregnancy running on my Strava account by clicking here!
Lots of Love