As I mentioned a few months ago, running during pregnancy is a completely new thing to me. And so, like most things, I’ve just done what felt right. There have been the people who’ve thought I was crazy for keeping running. There have been the people who run half marathons at 7 months pregnant faster than I could normally. But I’m not any of those people, I’m me.
But there are some truths about running that I think are as universal as anything can be when it comes to pregnancy.
This is kind of obvious in a way, because everything is more tiring when you’re pregnant. But the difference has been really noticeable to me. Not just how I’ve felt when running either. Afternoon naps after parkrun became pretty much essential to function normally.
You need more support
This is both moral and physical support. Moral support from friends and family in your decision to keep running. Physical support in the form of a decent sports bra (even more important than normal) and some form of bump band.
Your pelvic floor is your friend
It’s hard to overplay quite how wrecked your pelvic floor is after pregnancy. One of the biggest struggles women have in post-natal exercise is re-strengthening this crucial muscle so that high impact activities like running are even an option. And running during a second pregnancy made it very noticeable if I’d been skimping on my exercises. So do the exercises.
It’s important to know when to stop
Sure, the dream is to keep going as long as you can. Lose as few weeks of fitness as possible. But given every runner is different and every pregnancy is different, it’s not much of a stretch to realise that there is no ‘normal’ time to call it a day. What’s important is to keep listening to your body and recognise when you need to stop, before you push things too far.
For me, the time to stop appeared a week earlier than I’d hoped. Like most parkrun tourists, we had plans to see in the New Year with a parkrun double. That seemed like the perfect way to sign off for running maternity leave. My body had different ideas though, and my recovery time after parkrun on Christmas Eve told me it was time to call it a day.
To me, running in pregnancy mostly consisted of running a slow parkrun every week that I could. I would have loved to have done more, but it’s a break from running not a retirement. And until then, there’s plenty of volunteering and spectating to be done.