Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can I keep being a pregnant runner?

(Warning- there's a little bit of slightly TMI-y pregnancy stuff in the following)

As you know, my journey to becoming a pregnant runner has had highs and lows.

Yesterday's "long" run was another in the "lows" column, and has me wondering how long I'll be able to keep this up; and, indeed, how long I'll want to!

I set up as I had the previous week- a camelbak full of water, a tube of clif blocks (just in case) and a fully charged ipod (to take my mind off the ploddiness).  I'd planned an 8-ish k route, but hoped I'd be feeling up for 10km or so- after all, I have a 12km race to train for!

But only a few minutes in, I could tell it wasn't going to go well.  My heart rate was over 150 (my self-imposed "limit"*), so I slowed down.  At 4 minutes, I was still feeling off, so I decided to adopt a run 4, walk 1 pattern in the hope that it would allow me to go further.  But even that didn't help.  If I didn't watch my pace, and keep it unbearably slow, my heart rate would go straight up.

A little over 1km in, I noticed some abdominal tightening, in what felt to me like the bump area- not quite painful, not quite not painful, so I took it even easier in the hope that it would die down.  But it didn't, not really.  I took a turn that could take me closer to home, and also took me via a toilet (about 3km, I think)- I knew of other pregnant runners who had struggled with bladder pains due to all the squashing.  After a quick pee, nothing felt better, so I decided to walk the rest of the way home, trying to tell myself that the pangs were round ligament pain, or bladder or digestive system related, but feeling in the back of my mind that I was going to be making a call to the midwife or phoning Phil in a panic.

I had a brief lie down with my pregnancy books when I got home.  Despite my nerves, I was pretty sure what I was feeling was stretchy, growy pains.  I remembered that the usual cure for round ligament pain was a rest, but I was still a bit concerned as the books didn't quite cover how I was feeling (they mostly referred to shorter, sharper pains), or deal with running specifically, so I turned to google.

Typing in round ligament pain and running brought up plenty of useful articles.  The gist of these is basically that I can feel free to keep running (assuming my midwife OKs it), but that it might be too uncomfortable sometimes.  A belly band might help, but not everyone likes them.  Not all people get the same amount of ligament pain, and every pregnancy is different, but I've had quite a bit on and off since about 7 weeks, so maybe I have a less stretchy uterus, or weaker abs or something.  And if that's my lot in life, that's OK.  And if it's the worst part of pregnancy for me (apart from those kilos) then that's fantastic.

The thought of stopping running makes me a bit sad.  But I'll be honest- I'm not particularly loving this pregnant running thing.  Hobbling along at 7-8min ks, with a shuffly, ploddy gait isn't really the stuff runner's high is made of.  But NOT running?  That's tough for me too, because I love it, and I want to be able to get back into it afterwards! Not to mention that I want to do my race!

So the plan for now is:
  • Talk to the midwife next week, just to make sure everything's OK;
  • Start running on the treadmill now- it's boring, but I can get off whenever I want to without worrying about being away from home;
  • Look for a suitable belly band (if I don't need it for running, I'm sure it will still come in handy further down the track);
  • If I can't run on the treadmill, move to the elliptical, as well as doing some aqua jogging or pool running on top of the swimming;
  • Set the bike up for spinning again;
  • Keep up my leg weights and my swimming and walking, so I'm still fit and strong and ready to run post pregnancy.

*A lot of sources will still tell you not to let your HR go over 140bpm despite the fact that this was debunked in 1994.  I stuck to 140ish during most of the first trimester, as I was terrified, but I'm now trying to follow the less arbitrary "mild-moderate" guideline- after all, my easy/comfortable running HR has always been in the 150s.  But 150ish is about right for me to approximate mild-moderate, and because I'm a garmin geek, I'm still using HR to keep an eye on things.


Katie @ legally fit said...

I had to stop running around 27 weeks (if you could call it that-my pace was sooo slow). I mainly stopped bc of some tightening that I felt on the bump in a certain spot. I miss it and I'm looking forward to getting back into it :) I hope you can continue to run throughout your pregnanncy!

HotpotatoKate said...

Thanks Katie- I'm hoping I'll be able to keep it up; I was prepared to stop eventually, but not at 16 weeks!!

Rachel Harris said...

The treadmill was my saving grace while pregnant.  It stopped all the pain around my tummy with it being a little more forgiving underfoot.  You've got lots of sensible sounding options to pursue anyway.

Lisa @ bakebikeblog said...

I think it is all about instincts hon - and doing what feels right for you xx I have run once during this pregnancy - and I quickly realised it wasnt for me (sadly).