run, mama, run!

Bump Running

When we found out I was pregnant this time around, I was half-way along in my training for my second halfmarathon. My long run that week was 8 miles, I remember, because I threw up at miles 3, 5, and 8. O, yes, pregnancy has changed my habits as a runner, but it has not stopped them altogether (yet) so I thought I would share the tricks, products, and advice I have learned over these last 27 weeks of running for two.

First Trimester: 

Running 13.1 miles at 11 weeks pregnant was not my original plan when I signed up for the Dallas Rock’n’Roll Halfmarathon. (This is the part where I blush while I mention that DanO and I keep thinking it will take a few – or at least a couple – months off of birth control for us to conceive… but it never does. Ahem.) The first thing I had to resign as a pregnant runner was my pace. Whether it was stopping to lose my lunch or stopping to use the facilities, I found that my overall pace was almost immediately impacted when I got the two pink lines. Truth be told, this was more mentally challenging than physically, because I watched the pace I had been challenging myself to reach for over the last 8 weeks slipping away. As long as I could look past that as a motivational obstacle, I didn’t find that my physical endurance was negatively effected during the first trimester.

I’ll just put it out there: I found that from weeks 7-15 I rarely ran more than 5 miles without throwing up. Unrelated to exercise, I have always experienced nausea in the early weeks of each of my pregnancies. This made it especially important for me to make sure my body was still getting enough nutrients, electrolytes, and water. Gone were the days of a 6 mile run on nothing but water, and I began treating mid-distance runs as races as far as nutrition was concerned. I would keep a granola bar on my person (or my treadmill) just in case, drink gatorade instead of my usual water, and I also discovered Clif Shot Bloks. They taste like oversized gummi bears, are a quick, easily digested source of carbs and electrolytes, and taste much better going down than GU. Despite the throwing up that I experienced on most of my long runs, adding easily absorbed nutrients to my body while running kept me feeling strong enough to continue (as opposed to shaky and weak and needing to stop).

Second Trimester:

It is hard to put my finger on exactly why, but a few weeks into my second trimester, I began seeing my actual moving pace decrease. This means that, even without calculating stops I was taking, the speed I could push myself to run was slower. As a matter of choice, I stopped running anything more than 5 miles after my halfmarathon, but even on these ‘shorter’ distances, I added half minutes and then full minutes to my moving pace per mile as the weeks went on. Breathing was a bit harder, and frankly, so was dragging 20 extra pounds around. I decided it is was it is, and I determined to just keep running (no matter the pace) without walking as much as I could.

Picking new, better-for-where-I-am-now challenges has helped me stay motivated to keep at it, despite losing my hard-earned pace. I ran a 5k for fun and not for time at 22 weeks, I challenged myself to run 12miles in a week instead of my former pace challenges, I talked myself up to go (smaller, more appropriate distances) without walking. These were still stretching me, but not outside of my control like decreasing pace.

The best part about running when obviously pregnant is that people literally cheer for you when they see you out on a run. I have had more strangers and passerbyers encourage me in the last 10 weeks than in all my time running before. My personal favorite was when three very lively women who I passed running around the lake all applauded and hollered “Get it, gurl!” and “Dayum, mama!”. TRUE STORY.

The hardest part about running when obviously pregnant is the apparel. My favorite compression pants started to dig into my waist or lack-thereof, and the number of top options I had dwindled. There are few things as discouraging as getting your pregnant self off the couch and deciding to go for a run and then having absolutely nothing to wear. I did dare to buy a couple of items during this stage that I am a) hopeful will last me the remainder of the pregnancy and b) going to wear postpartum.

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Lucy’s Hatha Capri Leggings are my new favorite (and only) running capris. Yes, they are pricey, but they are the single solitary pair I can still wear, which makes them worth the investment to me; they also aren’t maternity and will work long after pregnancy. They are ideal for pregnancy running and exercise because they are perfectly stretchy (but not too thin/loose) and actually dip a little in the front of the waistband which is ideal for a growing bump.

If you plan on exercising through pregnancy, run, don’t walk to Target for the C9 Layered Tank with Bra (which I think actually went on sale recently? But don’t hold me to that.) It’s meant to be slouchy and trendy, which will be nice for postpartum, but for now it just has so.much.extra.room. in the torso. And dare I say it looks flattering? Also, It is open and airy which is great for when you have quarts upon quarts of extra blood pumping around heating you up.

Blanqi Bodystyler Support Tank has been the glorious, much needed solution to my “I feel like my belly needs a sports bra” conundrum that started around 20 weeks. I wear it everysingleday but I am especially thankful for it when running, because there’s nothing enjoyable about untethered abs and layers of ‘padding’ flopping with each foot-strike of the pavement.

Third Trimester:

I am now standing on the verge of my third trimester and here’s the quick and honest of it: running is getting harder. I don’t usually go more than 3 miles, I am struggling for motivation, I walk more than I want to, and things are starting to ache. My battle cry for the next 12 weeks will be this: as long as I am able. I am going to keep running at least once a week until my body stops me, and at that point I will keep walking a couple times a week. My goal in all of this isn’t to be a hero or to impress anyone, it is for myself for several reasons.

1. I want to pickup where I left off after baby is here. While I have no plans to run a halfmarathon next winter (HA!), I know that the sooner I let up on running habits during pregnancy, the longer it will take to get them back when my little uterine occupant is evicted.

2. I have seen physical benefits. While I haven’t officially entered the third trimester yet, which is by far the most physically taxing stage of pregnancy, I have already benefitted from continuing to run. I did not exercise almost at all during my first two pregnancies and I experienced a fair amount of swelling in my ankles and eventually in my everything. With OBoy, my NOSE was litterally bloated with water weight by the end. That was this time of year (heat and humidity is notorious for causing edema/swelling) and here I am in mid-July on a day with a heat index above 100° with zero visible swelling in my ankles. I cannot say for certain that running is the only reason, but my midwife encouraged me that it certainly helps combat it (water intake, circulation, etc.). Running  has also helped my energy level.

3. Me time. Me time. Me time. I am a better mom when I am running, taking time to myself, and practicing self-care. This is true when I am not pregnant, and it is true when I am. I am selfish and I want to listen to my thoughts without being interrupted for 30 whole minutes, so I run. It is cheaper than therapy (for me or for my poor children someday).

I will let you know how running goes these next three months. I am optimistic but also am listening closely to my body for if/when it tells me that it’s time to stop.


30 Responses to “run, mama, run!”

  1. Amanda

    I’m so proud of you, friend! You are a huge inspiration — seeing you do this is one of the reasons I’ve started running again. :) Thanks for all of the great tips here. Also, I saw the Lucy brand on sale at Zulily today, in case anyone wants to get those capris on sale!

  2. Sidnie

    You amaze me, friend!
    I remind myself when I don’t want to do things that require energy (run, mow the grass, etc.) that Allison runs *miles* while pregnant! And suddenly, I have all the energy in the world! :)

    I just bought some capris & shirts from Target out of desparation, but I might return them and invest in something that will hold up longer… I forget how great investment pieces are.

  3. Elaine A.

    You amaze me. I never ran while pregnant. I would also be saying “DAYUM” if I saw you running! Keep it up, girl! So great! :D

  4. Joanna

    I love the “Dayum Momma” comment. Seriously, running is totally cheap therapy. Well, not entirely cheap because I’m a running clothes whore and I like to own them all, but yeah, you keep on keepin’ on! ;-)

    • AllisonO

      Right? Pregnancy has been good for that, because there aren’t many clothes I CAN buy. Even CHEAPER therapy. ;)

  5. Erin

    I ran and worked out through my whole pregnancy with Tommy. I gave up on running in the third tri when the BH got to be too much and switched to solid 45 min workouts every day, but I kept walking and walked 6 miles the day before he was born. The benefits were huge. Faster labor (duh), Pre-preg jeans at 3 days PP and so on. It was like night and day from my recovery with Luke. So keep on keeping on! You are doing yourself a huge service.
    I love the cheers you got, too.

    • AllisonO

      Oooo, interesting. I haven’t been dealing with any Braxton Hicks yet, but that would definitely be an obstacle. Thanks for sharing your experience, Erin!

      • Erin

        I had them like crazy with Tommy early on, so you be just fine! He was testing the eject button early on. Running became a game of step down, contract, step up, contract. It was too much once my stomach got bigger.

  6. Caitlin MidAtlantic

    Awesome!! I am devouring info from moms who are staying active while pregnant with kids at home. I really want to stay more active for much longer this go round!

  7. Mary

    I just started running as well (I’ve been circling the block around our house to get my endurance up, because I am a brand new runner) Didn’t play sports, and really just haven’t been very active. The show Extreme Weight Loss made me want to start because hello! if they can do it at 400 pounds then what the h is stopping me. The reason I feel the need to comment on this post was because of the way you spelled “gurl” and “dayum”, it didn’t leave me with a good feeling to see these spelled this way. I’m sure I will get thrown under the proverbial bus for calling you out about something so insignificant, but I’m just making an observation. Is this the way you normally Ispell these words or is this the way you assume the people you saw on your run would spell it. I know I would want to know if I wrote something potentially offensive and insensitive, and I hope you don’t take this comment the wrong way. Good work on all your efforts running, hopefully it will prepare you for your next “marathon” (aka childbirth).

    • AllisonO

      I wrote it that way to spell it phonetically; I didn’t want the intonation and part of the fun of the story to get lost.

    • Sarah

      Just out of curiosity…what is so “offensive and insensitive” about the way Allison spelled those words? Not trying to snark…I have literally never seen anyone be upset by something like this.

  8. DanO

    You are so awesome babe! I love that you are so determined, even when your body says “better not.”

  9. Tracy

    I just had my third baby in February of this year and I did Crossfit right up to the week I delivered. Much faster labour and delivery, my recovery was much faster and I went into labour at 39 weeks instead of 41! You won’t regret being active for as long as possible. I had to stop the running/high impact in second trimester due to shin splints and bladder issues, otherwise I would have done it till the end. Way to go Allison!

  10. Ashley

    Im sure you get asked this a lot. As someone who cannot run more than 1/8th of a mile without dying, how do you train to run such long distances? Do you start by walking, then running sprints?

    • AllisonO

      Good question, Ashley. I definitely started out doing as much, if not more, walking as running. I didn’t have a real science to it, but I would use my watch and set a time that I would run, then time how long I walked. After running that same rate for a while I would challenge myself to run more and/or walk less. My first halfmarathon was a very goodly mix of walking and running and that was exactly how it needed to be for me to finish, but after a year of continuing to build my endurance and thus having the ability to work on pace, my second halfmarathon was completely without walking breaks.

      I know there’s a “Couch to 5k” program that you can find instructions to online (free) that I haven’t done but a lot of people swear by for starting out. Mostly, I’d just encourage you that the more you run, the better you get at it, especially if you can take the perspective of trying to push yourself from time to time (not every run needs to be hardcore!). See if you can go to the NEXT block before walking, or if you can start running again after only 1 minute (even though you/your body want otherwise). Get it, gurl!

  11. Caroline

    Very impressive Allison, you are inspiring me to make room in our schedule for running. My husband works very long hours so it’s only possible for me to go running early in the morning when he can take care of our kids. But getting out of bed is so hard! But if you can do it, I can do it, right?

  12. jo

    good for you for running while pregnant. i ran until i was on bedrest and while i was slower i credit the running with more easily dropping baby weight after giving birth 5 weeks ago.

  13. Kate

    I signed up for my first full marathon, then a week later found out I was pregnant. I decided to train for it and not worry about time. I figured I could always just run the half. But at 23 weeks, I completed my first marathon.

    • Kelly

      Hi Kate,

      I was just wondering how your marathon was at 23 weeks? Were you a runner beforehand? I have done one marathon (though it took me 5 hrs) and my husband I planned on doing one in Oct. I will be 5 months pregnant then and just assumed I wouldn’t be able to do it… Would you do it again?

      Would love your thoughts!

  14. Kristen

    I’m so glad I found this on Pinterest! I’m 8 weeks pregnant, and am getting flack from everyone but my running partners on my plans to run through my pregnancy, even continue my training for a half marathon in November! Thanks for being an inspiration!

  15. Kayla

    I ran my first half marathon when my little guy was 1 1/2.., I did not run at all during my first pregnancy, as I discovered running afterward. I am currently still running at week 21 of my second pregnancy. This was so helpful to me!! Thank you so much!! It seems like this week, running really has started to become a challenge. It’s so hard not to look down at my slow pace and get discouraged. Thanks so much for the motivation…I needed it!!


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