In case you missed it, Part 1 can be found here.
The first trimester started off great. I was running 6x days/wk, anywhere from 4-10 mi/day and 45-50 mi/wk.
But by week 8, I started to feel extremely tired, out of breath, and achy when I was running. I constantly felt like I needed to stop and walk – so despite not wanting to, this is what I did. I began doing a run/walk interval (running 1-2 miles, then walking 1/2 mile). I’ve never been a walker so I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed it! However, I was extremely discouraged – I really missed being able to run for more than 10-15 at a time and was worried that my plans to run throughout pregnancy were lost.
Looking back, I think I was overly cautious with my running and exercise in the first few months. Any time I was out of breath, I stopped and walked. I never wanted to come close to being winded or tired. I didn’t want to do anything that I might regret down the road. It was hard to convince myself that my baby was okay with all the jostling and movement he was experiencing…at the time, he was barely the size of a kidney bean! And, I felt that my body was trying to tell me something. Of course, there’s been plenty of studies and research done to prove that there is NO harm to your baby if you run – even early on when your baby is so tiny. But, I couldn’t get the fact that I just didn’t feel “right” when I was running out of my head.
It’s SO important to do whatever you are comfortable with. Don’t feel pressure to keep up with those that may have been able to run their whole pregnancy. Everyone and every pregnancy is different! Listen to your body!
I knew I wanted to run more than anything. But, my baby’s health – and my piece of mind – meant even more.
I gained a whooping 9 pounds from my first to second ob-gyn appointment! I was astounded!! How could I have gained that much weight? I really hadn’t consumed that many more calories than I had been. The astronomical weight gain scared me – I was on track to put on over 70 pounds!! My doctor assured me I shouldn’t panic – the weight gain was my body’s way of preparing itself for the next 7 months.
So here I was – barely 2 months into pregnancy…I couldn’t push myself to run more than a couple of miles at a time and I had already gained close to 10 pounds. Throw in the hormones, exhaustion, and stress of becoming a new mom soon and you get an idea of how out of it I was! I told myself to put it into perspective – the “rough” few months were mostly self-imposed – I was fine, my pregnancy was going well, and more importantly, my baby was growing and had no health issues.
Thankfully, by the end of the first trimester, I found that my breathing was under control and was comfortable enough to begin increasing my mileage again. It seemed to happen overnight and I was so thankful for the opportunity to just run!
The hardest transition for me during the first trimester was to LET GO on runs and not worry about my speed. It was difficult to know that every run was going to be slow – I no longer had runs where I pushed myself as hard as I could go or returned home covered in sweat. When you have an “easy” day scheduled on your training plan, it’s welcomed and appreciated. But, every day was basically an “easy” run for me. I quickly realized how much I missed being free to test my limits when I wanted to!
Tips and Suggestions
- I started running with a waterbottle in the first trimester. Hydration is important throughout pregnancy, but especially in the first trimester. Quick medical jargon:Almost immediately after becoming pregnant, the volume of your entire circulatory system (heart, arteries, and veins) increases. But, there is not enough blood in circulation (yet) to fill up the expanded system. So, your body goes through a series of actions and ultimately the kidneys decrease the excretion of water and salt to the rest of the body.
- Pay attention to environmental conditions – humidity, heat, smoke, direct sunlight – that can cause your internal body temperature to rise and stay elevated for long stretches of time.
- If you don’t feel right before a run, turn it into a walk or hop on the stationery bike or elliptical. If you feel better after getting started, then try running. Don’t push yourself and trust your first instinct. Even if you are “just walking”, you are still out there exercising – which is the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby.
- Don’t ignore symptoms that could indicate a serious problem – pain (both localized and persistent), sudden change in well-being, and vaginal bleeding (according to Dr. James F. Clapp III) are all signs of a potential complication. Call your doctor if you are unsure. In the first few months, I called my ob-gyn no less then four times with questions regarding something I was feeling or seeing.