Thursday, March 13, 2014

Pregnancy and Exercise

Let me start by saying I still feel great after that much needed rest last week.  I need to do it again, but the next few weeks are easier overall, so that shouldn't be a problem.  I also want to talk a bit, though, about exercise during pregnancy.

As you may or may not know, before I became pregnant, I ran.  I ran regularly.  I ran marathons, I ran 10ks, I ran at least 4 miles twice a week.  I would often do other things in addition to running (swim, bike, etc), but running was what made me happiest. I wasn't fast, but I still went out. I enjoyed the feeling afterward even when I didn't enjoy the feeling during.  So, when I got pregnant, I was really worried everything would change.  Would I be able to run?  How long would I be able to run?  How slow would I end up being?

When I first found out I was pregnant, one of my initial thoughts (the ones based on fear instead of the overwhelming joy I was also feeling) was, "I'm supposed to run 2 marathons in the next 27 days.  What am I going to do?"  Well, the first one was a week and a half away, so I decided to just go for it.  Play it by ear.  Listen to my body.  I felt pretty good, I'd trained well for it, so why not?  Hans was on board with the plan too, even if the rest of our families were a bit more hesitant.  While that was certainly not my greatest race (I didn't fuel well), it also didn't kill me.  So, I planned on doing the second one, but I figured I'd ask my doctor first.  As soon as I asked, she looked at me like, "Are you nuts?"  Then she asked how the last one went.  How was my recovery?  Was I still running?  All my answers seemed to be green lights, so I got the go ahead.  It was slow, but it went really well.  I definitely planned it better.

So, I've continued running (and swimming on the side).  I'm pleasantly surprised at how little I really seem to be affected.  I mean, yes, my pace has slowed.  Some days it feels as though I can't catch a breath and my heart is beating out my chest.  Other days, though, while I can tell I'm pushing things a tad, I end up feeling great and have decent results.  My running buddies have been a huge help in that they've graciously slowed their pace to accommodate me.  I'm still going out 2-3 times a week though, and this weekend I'll be running a half marathon (Go me!).

Before you say anything, I've continued talking to my doctor, and she's on board.  My fuel plan is different (I need a lot more), and my pace is definitely slower, but I'm well-prepared.  I ran 10 miles 2 weeks ago and felt great afterward if not ready for a nap.

And here's the kicker: The exercise helps me to feel better.  I can cope with extra weight gain when I've had a decent run.  I can handle mood swings way better because I'm getting a bit of an endorphin rush.  I can take some time to clear my head and improve my mood.  And I'm able to eat pretty much anything I want because running plus baby equals bring on the food!  Oh, and in addition to the running, I've been doing prenatal yoga.  It's not super-strenuous, but it's been a great addition to everything.  It complements the running well, it gives me a great time to stretch, and it really helps me clear my head.  Some of my most focused days are the ones that start with running and end with yoga.  That's how I battle baby brain!

So, if you're pregnant or considering kids, but aren't sure how to handle exercise, know that there are plenty of options.  The general consensus is that if you did it before pregnancy, you should be able to do it after during pregnancy, but of course there are exceptions to the rule.  Talk to your doctor, but don't be afraid to get on out there either!  Good luck!

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