Roll on Spring!
Spring has sprung, which is wonderful – lighter evenings & mornings – but it means our due date will be here fairly soon (May 17th)! Yikes! It reminded me that I had an update on running & the second trimester of pregnancy to write.
Disclaimer: I’m no expert at pregnancy, and since no two pregnancies are the same I don’t advocate repeating what I have, or have not done. Overall I highly recommend listening to your intuition, body & bump – and taking it easy! And yoga.
Second Trimester & Running
At this point I can definitely agree with everything that people have written and talked about – the second trimester of this pregnancy was definitely the honeymoon period. From about week 16-17 onwards I started to regain my appetite and energy, and overall felt much better than the first trimester. However I did start to notice a slight de-stabilising in my pelvis and simultaneously a tightening and pain in my lower back (due to the psoas and other back muscles taking the strain of added weight to the front of my body). The relaxin hormone that prepares the body for labor and baby-delivery was starting to kick in.
It really wasn’t bad pain, but in order to ease my lower back I used our homemade rice-sock. After heating it in the microwave for about a minute I would sit against a support or lie down with the rice-sock against the upper part of the back of my pelvis. Additionally I added more yoga poses that open up the front of the body such as low crescent lunge & Warrior I to my day. And I also made sure to stick to a regular core strengthening routine that mainly consisted of planks (easiest and safest to practice when pregnant), lunges, single-leg dead-lifts and squats and some light dumbbell exercises.
I also invested in a Gabrialla support band, on the recommendation of a few running friends. The support band really helped in terms of providing a little extra stability during runs, but I don’t wear it all the time. And as a Birth Educator recently reminded me – it’s not great to overly rely on the band since you still want to use and strengthen your core naturally.
In January, after a great break in Arizona for the holidays, I returned to running in Hawaii feeling refreshed – and ready to soak up the oxygen rich air again. With three races lined up it was fun to focus on running for fitness that would enable me to comfortably take part, rather than be a competitive ‘racer’. It’s also advisable to keep up some form of cardio during pregnancy to help build stamina and endurance for labour. And, maybe more importantly, it meant I could keep up with the social side of running, maintaining a link to the wider running community. I was starting to feel that the ‘people’ aspect of running was something I had completely taken for granted – and unwittingly relied upon as a form of support network. Chatting and venting with runner-friends has been a big part of my life for the last few years, if not always! And we all know how long runs with good friends can solve all sorts of problems!!
Along with runners from the Windward Training Freaks group, I took part in the Pearl Harbor 10k, the Great Aloha Run and also the Hawaii Pacific Health Women’s 10k. I wore the Gabrialla support band for each, and carried nuun in my Simple Hydration bottle, tucked into the back of my sports bra (apart from in the women’s 10k – when I left it in the car – which luckily turned out ok – read why below). I also wore Oiselle clothing, and even tested a new design of the trusty Roga Shorts. Read resulting review of the shorts HERE.
In each race I had no other goal than to just stay relaxed, listen to my body, and run for fun – rather than push through perceived tiredness or mental doubts as you might under usual racing conditions. I began to notice that I was adopting a slightly different running style during pregnancy, one that tilts my hips more underneath my body. Also, I have been trying to actively engage more core muscles and run ‘tall’. It seems to help balance out the bump weight, and prevent the bump from slumping forward – which places extra strain on the lower back.
The last 10k, on March 5th (at 29 weeks pregnant), definitely required the most energy and concentration, mainly because it started in a complete down pour, during which everyone cooled off after any form of warm up! The course also involved running up and over Diamond Head – a testing hill under on any day and so I just tried to run steadily & smoothly. The cool weather did thankfully save everyone from over heating, which meant just drinking the water on the course was enough for hydration needs! My shins and lower legs felt tight from the ‘cold’ Hawaii conditions over the first few miles (sorry everyone in England & on the East Coast) but by the time the finish line appeared, I was finally warmed up, feeling great, and managed to cross the line on a high note – my last ‘race’ for this pregnancy complete – photo evidence below.
Overall this is what I’ve personally found helpful during the second trimester of pregnancy as a runner:
- Running by feel. Good indicators are your breathing and how relaxed you feel. If there is too much resistance in your body – breathing rate is high, everything feels ‘tight’ – then maybe it’s a walking day. Or maybe you need to slow down, or stop and do more of a dynamic warm up before continuing.
- Focusing on good running form – staying tall and trying to keep the feet turning over.
- Not having a set plan – apart from some form of movement every day. Even if just 20-30mins of walking. I’ve also been trying to swim at least once a week.
- Yoga! Setting up a time to practice with a fellow pregnant-runner-friend once a week helped enormously. In between those yoga-dates 20-30mins per day was still great to help with flexibility, breathing & relaxation.
- Recovery. Feet up somewhere (chair, couch, wall, cushion) for 5-10mins to rest.
- Drinking lots!! Staying hydrated has become even more important than usual.
- Snacking – yogurt is still my go-to for some reason?! Cooling, with calcium & protein maybe?
Growing a small human is no joke, but it’s also pretty amazing. I feel super lucky to still able to run – even if just one mile at a time. What this is all going to fee like post-birth, well, we’ll just have to wait and see!
In the mean time this weekend it’s the North Shore Trail Running Camp that I’m really looking forward to co-hosting with Lindsay Bliss and Malory Peterson. It’s going to be an awesome day of trails, yoga, talks and trail-talk-story!
Longrunergy’s website over-haul is still in process… thanks for hanging in there for the update!