The number of questions that come with a baby are endless, who also realized much of it would start during the 9 months pre-baby. Running while pregnant needs to be addressed to eliminate confusion, shaming and worry!
For awhile now I’ve been thinking there was a topic that needed to be touched on here at RTTF, but I was in no way shape or form qualified to talk about it from personal experience. I’ve read a lot and have a good understanding as a coach, but I feel like this one is far more useful from someone who has been there, which is why I’m excited to have running coach Amanda Shannon Verrengia here today.
The old school thinking about running (or exercising in general) while pregnant was that women should do very little or nothing at all.
Fortunately, that thinking has changed. WHEW.
Running while pregnant has not only been proven SAFE for mom and baby.
Benefits of running while pregnant:
- reduce stress
- ease back pain
- make labor faster/less difficult
- keeps mom healthy
- prevent excessive weight gain
- BUT (and this is a big BUT) it is not something you should “just do.”
If you want to run healthy, you’ve gotta run smart– pregnant or not.
Can running while pregnant hurt the baby?
Before I say anything else, I’ll say this: I’m not a doctor and I’m certainly not YOUR doctor. Please get your doctors approval and tell him or her ALL OF THE DETAILS as you run throughout your journey.
- Usually the answer is no, unless you are a high risk pregnancy or have other health issues
- As noted above improving mom’s health will improve the baby’s health
- NO STUDIES show that running can cause a miscarriage early in pregnancy
10 Tips for Running While Pregnant
Much of this is essential for non-pregnant running too, so don’t be surprised if you feel like you’ve heard these things before!
- Dynamic Warm Up
- Release fitness worries
- Listen to your body
- Appreciate all the movement you get
- Be extremely flexible with your workouts
- Stay well hydrated and well fueled
- Continue strength training
- Stretch a little bit more
- Pelvic Floor work
- Get the right gear
1) Always Do the Warm Up
I can’t stress this one enough. PLEASE get in some dynamic stretching.
I get it, you don’t always have time. If you can’t seem to fit it in before every run, make it a priority before hard effort and strength workouts.
Easy run? At least start that first mile out a bit slower. Ideally though, you would warm-up dynamically before every run. While pregnant, I walked 5 minutes before most runs and then got in dynamic movement.
Dynamic movement is not only good for your body/muscles, it helps your body get in the “oh, it’s time to run” mode.
2) Stop fretting about Fitness
PLEASE do yourself this one courtesy. YOU ARE GROWING A HUMAN.
I’m a super competitive person. I LOVE to run. I’ve run since I was a kid. I love it– did I say that?
These 40 weeks of your run life are not the ones where you push through PAIN on a run. They aren’t the ones where you set PR’S.
The miles run while pregnant ARE about health, strength, joy and keeping up the endurance.
The worry that you’ll lose fitness is common, but trust that many mother runners before you have come back stronger and you will too.
- Your body is already working harder than normal, that’s not holding you back, it’s just different.
- Doing any movement including walking and yoga and strength is still helping you stay on track.
- You will have a new level of mental strength post baby that helps you.
- Your body DOES remember the fitness you had before, which actually makes it easier to get back.
3) Understand Your Body Cues
You have to be a pro at figuring out what your body is telling you.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between being out there running and feeling tired (because you’re pregnant, duh) and being in pain/DONE.
Your body can push through some tiredness and small discomforts and a run can end up feeling great. Then there’s the “this isn’t going to turn around and feel good” run.
- If you’re ever having a sharp pain, STOP.
- If you’re feeling extreme fatigue, STOP.
- If you wake up and can’t stop throwing up…don’t force a run!
4) Relish The Runs You Get
I loved being pregnant and I LOVED running pregnant. I always thought about the next goal and looked forward to working hard, but I also didn’t wish away that bump.
But that doesn’t mean it always feels great.
And it certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t more runs where you end up walking or deciding to cut it short than you imagined there would be.
During this time, we have to truly be grateful for every mile that our body wants to run. Think of it just like you would have when dealing with an injury! Gratitude for the good ones and knowing the bad ones will pass.
5) BE PREPARED TO ALTER THE WORKOUT.
This goes along with “knowing the difference.”
Don’t be upset with yourself if you go into the day with a plan for a workout and choose to alter it. If you’re truly not feeling it– change it up!
- Change the time
- Change the route
- Change the whole workout
Getting in any type of movement is GREAT for your spirit and your body.
Need a rest day today instead of tomorrow? TAKE IT.
Every single woman has a different experience, so you must be willing to simply embrace yours!
6) Hydrate and Fuel Enough
First, make sure you’re drinking enough water always, always, always. And get consistent with electrolytes if you are sweating a great deal (possibly more than you normally would due to hormones).
The eating will be an experiment in running while pregnant. All about what your stomach agrees too, but you must get in enough calories.
I had to be careful about what I ate prior to a run or workout because it would end up bugging me the whole time if my stomach/the boy in my stomach didn’t agree with it!
A few good options:
- Toast with nut butter
- Picky Bar
- Banana with nut butter (bananas have been shown to soothe the stomach)
Refueling post run is also extremely important to ensure that the recovery process kicks off immediately. We also know now that for women, that 30 minute window is really ideal for protein to help recovery and ensure you’re not losing muscle.
Here are some great post run meal ideas >>
7) Strength Training While Pregnant
I had so many people worry about me continuing strength work and lifting while pregnant.
Here’s the thing– I did it all prior to being pregnant, so there truly was no reason for me to stop unless:
1. my doctor gave me a reason
2. my body was telling me to stop.
Since neither of those happened, strength training was a great way to ensure that I didn’t lose muscle mass which would make me weaker upon returning.
However, chat with your doctor! There are certain movements we want to avoid like anything lying face down or going for Olympic lifts. This isn’t a time to hit your 1 rep max.
8) Yoga and Mobility for Hips
Wondering what you need to do post run? During pregnancy it’s actually more important that other times because we are placing greater pressure on our hips and low back.
- You need to cooldown post run to let the HR come down
- Spend a little time stretching, especially the hips
- Use another day for active recovery
It looks like this: rather than a full rest day, it’s easy/stretch out yoga (20-30 minutes will do) followed by foam rolling and focused roll out work with a tennis or golf ball in any tight areas (some self trigger point work) and then some deep static stretching.
This will help you mentally feel productive on off days and your body will absolutely benefit.
9) Work Those Hips
Active recovery days or strength days are also a key time to focus on your hips.
- Pelvic floor work to help with labor and recovery
- Glute activation movements to keep you running strong
- Hip stability moves that will help prevent knee and IT band issues
This work or the absence of it will MAKE OR BREAK your running. I’m telling you.
Make the time for it or you’ll make the time for rehabbing your injury later.What it really takes to run successfully through pregnancy from @runintended #runchat Click To Tweet
10. Pregnancy Running Gear
What runner isn’t motivated by new gear?! And just like your watch or your winter gear, this is designed to make your running while pregnant time more enjoyable.
Maternity running clothes
Having some workout clothes that fit right will help you feel more comfortable during your run. If you’re looking for some nice stuff that doesn’t cost a fortune (since you’ll only wear it for a short period of time), check out Old Navy and Target maternity.
I would recommend a pair or two of leggings and several tops. If it’s cold/winter and you plan to be outdoors, grab a pullover that will keep you warm during your run— there’s nothing worse than a cold belly!
I started wearing compression socks during every run at around 28 weeks pregnant.
I read a lot about the circulation issues that occur in pregnancy – due to the change in blood flow and volume in order to accommodate the little one you’re growing.
I recommend them to prevent/help:
- tightness issues with the calves/feet as the blood flow is lesser to those areas
- to prevent varicose veins. I’m not implying they’re a miracle cure for everyone or will help every run feel great, but I’ve worn them and feel like they do help.
✅Here’s a great pair to get you started!
The right shoes
At around 15-16 weeks pregnant, I started noticing that my shoes just didn’t FEEL good and my feet and calves were achy while running.
It was time for:
- A bit more cushioning like the Hoka Bondi to help with the extra weight on my feet
- And maybe even going up a half size because of feet swelling
A belly support band
I used the Gabrialla support band. It helps with low back support and round ligament pain while running.
It also encourages proper posture/hip position.
- I wore the belt when we ran the Rock n’ Roll Las Vegas half when I was 21 weeks pregnant.
- I started wearing the belt for every run at 25 weeks pregnant.
What about running a half marathon while pregnant?
You’ve probably seen an increasing number of elite women running races while pregnant and wondered if that’s ok for you too? YES! As noted above, as long as you are not going from nothing to suddenly your first hardest race ever and you’re not pushing yourself to that redline state it’s ok.
You may need to hop in to a few more porta potties or decide that you just aren’t feeling great on race day and adjust. I’ve had athletes crush their training, then show up to race morning with sudden nausea or fatigue, that can’t be controlled. So they just adjusted to enjoy the day.
Plus these 5 mother runner tips will save your sanity later. Running will be different, that’s not bad!
Connect with Amanda
In addition to being a certified ACE personal trainer, USATF Track and Field Coach and RRCA Run Coach, Amanda has been a runner since childhood, earning experience both personally and professionally in the running industry. She is the creator of Run Intended, a personal trainer/run coach and a track and field coach. She is a new mama to a baby boy.
Other ways to connect with Amanda
Get new posts via BlogLovin