Running and Pregnancy: Part 1

Finishing up a 14.5 mile run at 18 weeks pregnant

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. This post simply details my own experience with running and pregnancy. Everyone is different, and what has worked for me will not necessarily work for other people.

Today I’m 18 weeks and 1 day pregnant, and it’s just two weeks until the Boston Marathon! I’m happily tapering for the big day, although this training cycle has definitely been a little unusual.

The ┬ámorning I found out I was pregnant, there were obviously a MILLION thoughts racing through my head. I had recently registered for the Boston Marathon, so it didn’t take too long to start thinking about whether or not I would be able to do it. Then a few minutes later after doing some calculating, I realized that i was already pregnant when I ran my first ultra-marathon.

I emailed my OB/GYN to get her thoughts on running the marathon. She wrote back saying that as long as I listened to my body, it was fine to keep running since I’d been doing it so consistently before I got pregnant. Then I went to the gym and ran 4.5 miles on the treadmill.

I didn’t have a specific training plan for Boston, and I fully accepted the fact that it might not happen. Still, I did my best to get miles in, particularly focusing on my weekend long runs. I was more exhausted than I’ve ever been for the first 10 or 11 weeks, so sqeezing in those 5:00 AM treadmill miles didn’t happen every day. Still, I found that even though I was MUCH slower than ever before, running kept me sane and happy through the mood swings and occasional nausea.

I’d read that you were supposed to keep your heart rate below 140, so I sometimes wear a heart rate monitor when I run just to make sure I’m not pushing too hard. I thought it would be hard to slow myself down, but my body definitely likes to keep it slow and steady, and there have been more walk breaks in my recent long runs than ever before. But I’m okay with that! I also go through more water and energy gels on long (and not-so-long) runs, and plan my routes so I can refill my water bottle.

It hasn’t always been easy to get myself out on the road, and some of the long runs have felt ENDLESS. Also, my feet have been hurting more than usual, maybe because I’m now carrying a few extra pounds. I never used to run with music, but now I rely on it to keep myself moving. I think the hardest thing for me is feeling so incredibly slow. I haven’t had that light and fast feeling in MONTHS, and this weekend I was passed by a lady running in velour pajama pants and a straw hat. But I know I’m slow for a really good reason, and I’m hoping that staying in shape will make labor a little easier (although I’m trying not to think about that part yet).

When I told people I was going to run the Boston marathon at 20 weeks pregnant, a lot of people thought I was completely insane, or were concerned that I didn’t care about the baby. I know I will need to take it really easy, and my doctor told me to make sure I stop at every water station and be VERY careful I listen to my body and not get too carried away with adrenaline. The good news is, I’m running with my dad (who’s a physician), so I tell everyone that I’ll be fine because I’m running with my personal doctor. I know it’s dangerous to get too warm, so if Marathon Monday is unseasonably hot (75+), I may just walk until they pull me off the course. Either way, I’m SO excited for Boston, and to see how running goes throughout the rest of my pregnancy!

Another fun part of long runs + pregnancy? The post run cravings! This wekeend’s edition involved an avocado and American cheese sandwich, salt and vinegar potato chips, and grape soda. Perfection.

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7 comments to Running and Pregnancy: Part 1

  • Good for you! I think that’s awesome. It’s always important to listen to your body even when you’re not pregnant, it’s just important for two people rather than one now. I hope your marathon goes well! Good luck :)

  • Erin

    I’m so glad you wrote this! When I get pregnant, I definitely want to keep running, and I know that if you can train for Boston, I can certainly keep up with my own routine as much as I can!

  • Awesome job Cate! The elliptical kicked my ass when I was pregnant. I can’t imagine training for a marathon. You’re my hero :)

  • You are so awesome for keeping up with the running! And that grape soda…totally craving that now!

  • I can believe people gave you a hard time. Everyone loves to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re pregnant. I don’t know why people feel qualified to give advice. Obviously you wouldn’t be doing this if you or your doctor felt it was unsafe. Besides I heard exercise less too smaller babies and easier labor. And I’m for both of those.

  • I can believe people gave you a hard time. Everyone loves to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do when you’re pregnant. I don’t know why people feel qualified to give advice. Obviously you wouldn’t be doing this if you or your doctor felt it was unsafe. Besides I heard exercise leads to smaller babies and easier labor. And I’m for both of those.

  • Laura

    I give you major props…I could barely run one mile while pregnant…

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