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. Sure I’ve read a lot and have a good understanding, 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.
Running while pregnant has not only been proven SAFE for mom and baby, it’s been proven to reduce stress, ease back pain, make labor faster/less difficult and 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. 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.TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL PREGNANT RUNNING
(much of this is essential for non-pregnant running too!)
I can’t stress this one enough. PLEASE get in some dynamic stretching. Not pregnant? Still do it. 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 get 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.
Checkout a great dynamic warm-up >>
REALLY LISTEN TO YOUR BODY/GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.
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? I always want to be out there sweating, working and pushing towards new goals. But you must, MUST honor the pregnancy process if you want to 1. stay healthy and injury free throughout 2. grow a healthy human and 3. come back to running and kick some major butt.
KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
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. That’s when you stop. 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. They ARE about health, strength, joy and keeping up the endurance.
APPRECIATE THE MOMENTS.
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.
I knew that in order for the “let’s get back in race shape” adventure to begin, that one had to end. You can’t put that sweet baby back and repeat the adventure once he/she enters the world. Running will wait for you.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, the route, the whole workout– remember that you’re out there sweating and THAT is a great thing. Getting in any type of movement is GREAT. Need a rest day today instead of tomorrow? TAKE IT. CHANGE THINGS UP if you need to and don’t feel bad about it.
FUEL UP/DRINK UP.
I’m a huge advocator for proper fueling for running, after running, during running… whatever your body is needing. This is HUGE during pregnancy. Make sure you’re drinking enough water always, always, always.
The eating will be an experiment.
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! I like a piece of peanut butter toast, a Picky Bar or some oatmeal prior to a run. I am also always a huge advocator for a proper refuel after a run. A smoothie is always my go to about 20 minutes after a run. Other options? Eggs, yogurt and granola with berries and honey or gluten-free waffles topped with cottage cheese and berries (everyone thinks this is gross- it’s so the best!).
Checkout the ideal pre-workout snacks>>
KEEP THE STRENGTH.
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 to or 2. my body was telling me to stop. STRETCH.
This is an always, always. Dynamic stretching before beginning a run/workout and static stretching when done. I’ve always been pretty darn good at this, but got even better in pregnancy. I’ve fallen in love with Jasyoga and recommend that you check it out. Online yoga, stretching and reset work for runners– truly awesome.
I’ve also become a stickler for a “recovery day”. All of my clients are told to have these days too. 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. It’s tough work, but good work and it will make all the difference in your running.
See the best post run stretches for IT Band and Hips>>
DO THE “LITTLE” WORK/PELVIC FLOOR AND HIPS.
This goes hand in hand with the last point. Those recovery days = “little work”. I’m also talking about injury prevention work, especially glute activation and hip release/strength. In pregnancy and post-pregnancy we’re adding pelvic floor work.
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.
Checkout some great hip strengthening moves >>
MAKE PLANS. TERRIFYING ONES.
Make the plans to race again. If you, like me, were into racing prior to pregnancy/love the process– your soul needs the goal. Sure, you might change the plans if you decide they aren’t right for you, but having the goals will keep that fire inside and will keep you in tune with YOU.
GET THE RIGHT GEAR
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!
Compression Socks: 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:
1.) tightness issues with the calves/feet as the blood flow is lesser to those areas and
2.) 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.
Read more about compression >>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. I usually alternate between the Asics DS Trainer and the Brooks Pure Flow. I switched out the DS Trainer for the Asics Cumulus. Just a bit more gel cushioning for the extra weight coming down on my feet with each stride. I kept the Pure Flow (just got new ones) because it still felt good and alternated the two.
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.
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.
Have you ever run while pregnant? What was your experience like?
Any tips you would add?
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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