14 Oct 2014

Second trimester - pregnant running experience

Above is the proof of my only race during pregnancy: past week at 25,5 weeks pregnant I've run 5km with colleagues during the yearly city run! I was just 1.5 minutes slower than last year and finished in 27 min 28 sec.
Entering the last week of the second trimester it is time to look back at the past months.

to consider when running pregnant:
Below is my own experience. I've been running (recreational) for more than 10 years now, doing an occasional recreational race once in a while. What I love about running is being active, being outside (love running in the woods), the fact that I can think over things or just not think of anything when running. I've learned to listen to the signals of my body and don't push myself to the limits.
I'm not an expert or an athlete, so my message is mainly: listen to your body, just as you always do! Important thing to mention: being pregnant it is not the moment to start with any physical activity, but if you were running before, you can continue safely to do so. I already wrote about exercising and the benefits of running during pregnancy and the 'official' guidelines you should take in consideration HERE.

on weight gain:
getting ready for a run at 27 weeks pregnant:

Before you ask: I haven't the slightest idea of how much weight I gained. After my 'thyroid crisis' back in 2012 (diagnosed with Graves' disease and was more than a year on medication) I gained weight while on medication and the bathroom scale had to go. Past years I was feeling like being myself again so basically I never looked back!
I believe that running during pregnancy (besides not 'eating for two') is the most important thin that helps me to keep my weight gain within normal ranges. Of course I gained weight, I can see (feel) that when looking at my face and upper legs, but I believe almost at the end of the second trimester it is a fairly moderate amount. Gaining weight when pregnant is normal, your body 'stocks up' on reserves while expecting. While my bump starts to 'get in the way' sometimes, I'm happy to report I can handle this size at the moment well.

The weird thing is that my first thought after finishing a run is: will I be able to do it again in a few days?... Up until now the answer was yes, but since the baby needs to grow 4-5x as heavy as he is now I wonder how running during the last next weeks will go...
By the way, while eating a lot of veggies, occasional baking & tasting doesn't hurt! This weeks chocolate-apple cake creation:

the benefits until now (I believe)
- overall: lots of energy (and speed) at work
- no 'waggling'
- no swollen ancles
- no extreme weight gain (of course, I try not to 'eat for two')

It is important that you 'recharge' after running! I do this with a protein-rich low-fat cheese. It contains way more proteins than milk of yoghurt (only 3-4 gr protein per 100 ml)

my favorite protein-rich after-run snack of this summer:
- about 200 gr of low fat soft cheese with a whopping 13 gr (!!!) protein per 100 gr
- with fresh seasonal fruit (last weeks I switched to 2 bananas)
- a handful of oatmeal (the rolled ones) for fibers
- and a handful of walnuts for essential oils
- 1 teaspoon of Nutella for some fast, after-running sugars

running - my first trimester
Before I got pregnant I was dreaming of being sportive and running through pregnancy. I wasn't sure how to approach it I just went with the flow.
If you can believe literature, blogs, personal experiences, the second trimester seems to be the easiest of the 3.
You've got rid of the worst first trimester symptoms and your energy levels should be rising. As far as first trimester symptoms go I really can't complain. I've been really, really tired, and had several weeks of 'blown up' feeling in my stomach, but the morning sickness remained mostly feeling nauseous in the morning and being okay for the rest of the days during weeks 8-11 (didn't have to throw up once!).
By week 11 almost all of those symptoms were over and I felt pretty normal again. Even on the worst days I tried to go for my run, every few days and it was worth it! By the time I entered the second trimester I was back into running 10km in every 5-6 days. At a slower pace, but still running the same distance.

running - my second trimester
Below the only pregnant picture of me in my running outfit (far left)
Proud with my 25 weeks baby bump:

I can be short about this: I managed to keep up with the same mileage as through the first trimester, running an average 10 km's in every 4-6 days. No walk-breaks needed (yet). Running went really well and I felt good. (Except for about 1.5 week due to having a bad cold and SI-joint pain (wrote about that here.)

pregnant running 'fuss':
Of course, there were quite a few challenges to deal with. While before the pregnancy I could go for a run practically any time of the day, any temperature, after my morning coffee or even a few hours after a meal. Right now, during pregnancy there are a lot more things I need to take in consideration before I even can leave the house:
  • weather conditions
I can't stand the heat anymore! This summer the worst thing was the otherwise nice and hot summer with high temperatures during the day. Since I'm not a morning runner by the time I normally start (around 11-12 AM) it was so hot outside that I couldn't really enjoy running. My pace slowed down though running itself wasn't uncomfortable. Luckily we leave close to two walking- and running friendly woods, so once I arrived there after the first 3 km's things got better.
The few morning runs I did when it wasn't too hot yet, went much better. Now that the average temperatures dropped a bit and the fresh autumn days arrived I enjoy running a lot more!
  • bladder and bowel urgencies
The worst thing for me was losing track of my bowel activities: my belly seemed to have an extreme reaction on running. Sometimes, suddenly after the 2 km's I had to head home with diarrhea. After that I could continue running without any problems, but it made me really conscious about making my toilet pit-stop before leaving the house.
I must say, the bladder problems weren't near that urgent until now. It was much more a mental thing for me. Not thinking about it all the time was the best solution to be able to run longer than an hour outside.
  • no running with a too full or too empty stomach
While running after my morning coffee can be an option on some days, running to short after a meal is no fun. It's like digestion is sucking all the energy out of my body and makes me feel already tired after the first minutes.
As for running with an empty stomach, it seems like the feeling of being hungry can be so overwhelming (almost undeniable) during pregnancy that you almost can't function normally. A light meal an hour or 1.5 ours in advance will do the trick.
  • start with 'circles' close to home
After a while I discovered the best thing was to stay close to home for the first few km's just in case of any 'emergencies' (bladder, bowel, baby-bump or other) and if that went well move further away from home. The thought of being close to home was comfortable.
  • run for fun - easy runs are the best
I didn't have the urge to do tempo runs or intervals while pregnant. My pace slowed down during the first months and I accepted it. I was already happy about the fact that I could maintain the same distance as before.
Interestingly, last weeks 5 km city run at 25 weeks pregnant went really good, I was just 1.5 minutes slower than last year, even without interval trainings and only running long distances at an easy pace as preparation.
  • take time to recover
Rather than running 3 times a week I run once in 4-6 days. I feel that I need a few more days to recover than I normally (=non-pregnant) do. The great thing is that I still can keep up with my mileage when I allow myself to rest between my runs. I consider to go for a more frequent but shorter runs when my bump gets heavier, but not yet.
  • take it easy on running days
Important thing is to take rest on the days you plan to run! Working full-time as a nurse I try to plan my runs on days when I'm off or when I have an evening shift. In the last case I try to finish my run before noon and take a nap before taking the bike to work. By the time I get home after a morning shift (around 4 PM) I'm just too tired to anything at all.
  • uncomfortable contractions during running
Strangely around the time I first felt the baby moving (19-20 weeks) I had a few runs when I experienced uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions. Most of the time they occurred in the beginning of the run, after the first 2 km's and around the 7km mark. For me, slowing down and always helped.
I must say I start my runs at a slow and easy pace which I believe makes my baby comfortable. This way my heart rate rises slowly and is not 'racing' all the time (that seems to make babies uncomfortable because they are able to your heartbeat).
  • drink a lot
This seem to be very important, but I must say I drink a lot (mostly water) anyway, so wasn't new for me. After the first trimester when I tried to limit my coffee intake to one morning cappuccino a day I went back to my daily routine of starting the day with 2 nice cappuccino's (bean coffee - love my Jura coffee machine!) and drinking about 2 liters of water during the day.
No sport drinks for me, they are only excess calories and certainly not a necessity.
  • taking vitamins
You may or may not take vitamins during pregnancy.
They say you don't need them, but I choose to do so because I want to prevent infections, anaemia and simply want to feel as good as possible. I believe this helps me continue running as well. Pregnancy weakens your immune-system which makes you more vulnerable for infections. Once you are ill the number of medications you can safely take are limited and I certainly don't want any antibiotics in my body while pregnant! Here is my daily 'mix':
- I'm still taking a prenatal multivitamine-mix which consists of vitamin B's folic acid, iron*, vitamin d and some calcium. Remember, the baby needs calcium for developing strong bones and his source is your body's depots like your nails and teeth!
*Iron and folic acid are both essential to prevent anemia, and are essential for oxygen transport in your body which is essential for physical exercise!
- Around week 17 my nails started to break very badly so I added extra calcium with good results.
- Omega-3 oil seems to be good for the development of baby's brain so I take those too.
- Finally a slow-release 1000 mg of vitamin C to prevent bladder and other infections.
  • running gear
- Up until now I was able to squeeze myself into my running shirts (actually quite like how the tailored Asics ones accentuate my baby bump). I'm afraid, after the second trimester I need to find other running shirts.
- Boob-support (double!): a combination of one bra + one comfortable running top do the trick.
- I have two 3/4 running capris which are low rise and sit comfortably under my bump. It appears baby doesn't tolerate any kind of elastics or tight things sitting higher than that...
- No extra belly-support needed (yet).
- I occasionally wear my pelvic belt - one day it feels fine, on other days it doesn't. 

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