Dare I admit it? I’ve been running throughout my entire pregnancy and with the sixth month almost upon us I’m still clocking up around 12 miles a week. It’s now clear I have a baby on board (pictured) and it’s amazing how many people I’ve been running past since we moved here 18 months ago have suddenly started smiling and saying hello. Which is heartening.
When I was expecting BB and carried on donning my trainers it wasn’t long before I discovered people seem to view pregnancy as some sort of illness, requiring one to sit on the sofa and eat crisps for nine months. I also discovered – and became increasingly infuriated by – people who dished out their advice on the subject despite having no medical knowledge whatsoever.
‘I’m not ill, I’m pregnant’ I would find myself saying over and over again. Having run six to nine miles at least twice a week for more than 10 years, there was no question in my mind that hanging up my trainers in favour of the sofa would be more of a shock to my system than continuing to pound the pavements. Every pregnancy book you find will tell you – assuming your blood pressure is ok – to continue your normal levels of activity as far as possible. What’s more, I love it. Why would I stop?
Of course there’s a certain amount of moderation involved – while I’m running for around an hour twice a week, I’ve cut my distance from nine miles to six, a snail’s pace for me. Hills are out – instead I’m sticking to the nice flat promenade along the beach where we live – and where I used to aim for an effort level of 10 I’m sticking to a maximum of 7.
As with BB, adapting from a fast runner who set myself speed challenges between lampposts and always incorporated a hill on the route has taken some getting used to, but at week 24 we’re bumping along nicely. I’m alternating running with swimming, meaning I no longer do two runs in a row, and at my new slower pace I’m taking in sights I didn’t used to notice and am appreciating nature a little bit more. It’s also pretty much the only time the baby and I are on our own together – the perfect opportunity to think about and bond with the baby.
I’d go as far as to say I’m finding it easier at this stage than I did with BB: when I was expecting her I would have to include at least one loo stop on my route, if not two by week 24 thanks to her bouncing around on my bladder. (It cost 20p to use the public loos where we lived at the time – I often wonder if they ever noticed a spike in revenue). This time, however, I’ve had to make a pit stop on just two occasions, and that was weeks ago – the baby’s in a totally different position.
I ran until I was 36 weeks pregnant with BB, and without a doubt this helped me recover from the birth faster than I would otherwise have done. While it would be great if I could do the same this time, I’m not sure I’ll manage it. With the third trimester approaching I can feel my muscles softening, especially around my pelvis, and after each run it’s taking me longer to recover. But as long as it’s comfortable and I’m enjoying it, I’ll continue.
I only hope the smiles and hellos from my fellow runners and walkers continue too.
If, like me, you’re a pregnant runner here are some links I’ve found useful: