I received this article in my inbox this morning and I really liked it. Coach Jenny with Runner's World Magazine answers the question, "Should women run marathons while pregnant," and I think she does a great job.
I am all for running while pregnant, especially if you were running before. I even read about how women should START exercising when they become pregnant even if they haven't been before pregnancy (yep, you CAN start something new). Now, that doesn't mean start marathon training while pregnant, but exercise is good for the mother and good for the baby, and a GREAT time to start some healthy new habits if you haven't already (moderation is the key here).
While I was pregnant, I ran up until the last few weeks. It was July in Alabama so that was part of the reason I walked those last 2 weeks, and the other reason was it just wasn't comfortable. When it was comfortable and safe, I ran. I ran all I wanted. I cut my mileage as the pregnancy progressed so that by the end I was doing half the mileage I was doing before pregnancy. I also swam at the YMCA and did a prenatal pilates video three times a week. My goal was 1 hour of exercise a day while pregnant (a good goal for people who aren't pregnant too).
I discovered some great blogs by other running moms and was amazed at what they would attempt... and achieve while pregnant. One girl ran sub 8 minute miles most of her pregnancy. Another ran a half-marathon with her mom at the end of hers. Yet another went on a ten mile run close to the end of her pregnancy and I was not only amazed that she did it, but that she didn't have to go to the bathroom once during the run (I had to go almost every mile). And I was inspired by these women, but at the same time I did not feel the need to run more than 6 miles. I just didn't. It was close to an hour - especially as the pregnancy progressed and my belly got bigger. It was summer here in Alabama, so I also had the heat to contend with and the LAST thing I wanted while pregnant was to over heat or dehydrate.
I was careful. I was cautious. Maybe too much? Who can say? But I had a great pregnancy, an easy delivery (as far as deliveries go), and a good recovery as well. And when it was time to get back to it, I did and it felt great. That is how I wanted it to be and that is how it was. I didn't need to prove how tough I was while pregnant. I didn't need to amaze anyone by how far or how fast I could run while pregnant. What I needed to do was stay fit and healthy and grow a healthy baby girl.
Coach Jenny talks about adjusting one's goals when pregnant. I love her phrase "It's not time to train for you. It's time to train for two." That is so true! As a mom, I have to work my running around Eloise. I have to be there for her first. I have to give my energy and stamina to her first. Then I get to use what is left to run. That may sound horrendous to many runners - and probably to me too before I had my baby girl. But let me just say now that she is here in my arms, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am blessed with a husband who helps me make it work because he is a runner too and he understands. I am blessed with a running mom who lives close by, a running sis who is glad to hold her niece for an hour, a mother-in-law who always encourages me to run while she is here, and let's not overlook the treadmill and the Bob. So I probably have it a lot easier than many running moms who must make it work on their own. But I still have to sacrifice my running schedule to Eloise's schedule and pregnancy is a good time to start practicing.
Really, each running mom has to work it out for herself. That mom who ran FAST throughout her whole pregnancy, she ran REALLY fast when she wasn't pregnant. She also got seriously injured while pregnant and had to stop running. That is something I didn't want to do. I didn't want to have to stop, so I took it easy so I could go and go and go until Eloise arrived. Every woman has to decide for herself, and I can and will always respect that. However, this is a GREAT article for new moms trying to figure out what they should do when they become pregnant and how to know if they are doing enough or too much. Coach Jenny receives a little flack in the comment section, and I applaud her courage in taking on this issue.
Here are some other posts I've written on the subject:
Feeling Good During Pregnancy
Prenatal Weights and Pilates Workout
Exercising in the Third Trimester