Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Working Out While Pregnant

You might have noticed just a few entries this past Spring about running (herehere and here). To say I fell back in love with running after having Sammy is an understatement. I was obsessed!

(And with good reason! Check out this fantastic article on how women are often stronger and faster runners after having babies.)

In my last entry before my lengthy summer hiatus, I also mentioned one (last) key race at which I wanted to perform well. It's funny as right before I found out I was pregnant with Sammy, two things I happened - I played the golf round of my life, and I scored a beautiful game-winning goal for my old-ladies soccer team. Well, just a few weeks before I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 (I can't wait to stop using that term), I set a new 5k PR!

Shameless self promotion. But if you regularly hit up the track at 6 a.m. in July - by yourself, you'd do it too.

After that race, I was ready to take a break from running for awhile. I had been very diligent about running since a few weeks after giving birth to Sammy, and with his first birthday party just around the corner, I felt I deserved to at least cut back a bit on my weekly runs. I didn't stop entirely though, even when finding out I was pregnant a few weeks later. (After all, I have two awesome running partners whose company I knew I would miss if I cut out running completely.)

Similar to my first pregnancy, my first trimester basically consisted of wrapping myself cocoon-style in a blanket and throwing myself on the couch the second James got home from work, and not moving for the remainder of the night. I did get out for a run at least once a week, but my motivation was lacking.

But then, week 12 hit. I remember experiencing the exact same feeling when pregnant with Sammy. All of a sudden, I was a new person! I had all this energy! I was ready - and rather desperate - to work out. Also, I started to really miss training for something and having goals.

Pregnancy #1
As I have always hated the gym, when pregnant with Sammy, I tried a new workout tactic that I had previously written off as being too gym-like - workout DVDs. And I actually really enjoyed them! Summer Sanders became one of my biggest motivators, and even James became used to hearing her chipper voice upon returning home at the end of the work day.

I also enrolled in a prenatal yoga class, and though it was nice to share a peaceful hour with other expectant women, I ended up nicknaming my particular class, "Stretching for Pregnant Ladies". I got very little out of it, and to make matters worse, due to the time of day it meant, I was forced to drive wistfully by a weekly running group on my way home. I was so jealous of those runners who were getting an actual workout.

By the third trimester pre-Sammy, however, I was ready to pack away my DVDs, and as it was spring, I took lengthy walks outside almost every day. And as I felt huge at the time, I was okay with this. I knew that walking was pretty much all that my body could take.

Pregnancy #2
Sometime back in the spring, when I started thinking about having another baby, I began to panic a little. Here it was, almost a year after giving birth to Sammy, and I felt like I was in the best shape of my life. I was so proud of how far I had come, and how committed I had been to getting back into shape post-baby. But now, if I had another baby, I'd be back at square 1 in another year. Or even worse - square negative 1. (Because having a second child has to set one back even more, right?) I know this is ridiculously selfish sounding. I mean, I'm a mom - should any of this matter if I was lucky enough to have a second child? Who cares about something as unimportant as being in shape? But, it's how I felt.

Then one day, I got an epiphany. Years ago I had signed up and started training for a women's triathlon, but never followed through, as things like moving into our first home, a lengthy Hawaiian vacation, and getting engaged got in the way. (Rough life, I know.) But especially after seeing my running partners train for triathlons, I had a huge desire to try (tri) again. So, I decided that if - God willing - I was to get pregnant again, that would be my chance!

Now lest you think I'm actually training for a triathlon during this pregnancy, I'm not that crazy. (Not that I think there is anything wrong with that - but having never done one before, I know this isn't the time for me to do such a thing.) But, I am taking this opportunity to brush up on my (non-existent) swimming skills, bike (indoors, in a safe environment) and keep up with my running as much as my body will allow. Many, many women have run while pregnant, and both swimming and cycling (indoors) are great low-impact activities that can potentially be done throughout all three trimesters.

Summer Sanders was so 2011, er, 1992. 2012 is about channeling Missy Franklin.

I can't begin to describe how great all of this has made me feel. I'm still attempting to run once or twice a week (at a comfortable pace). And I actually love swimming, even if I'm not that great at it. I took one lesson prior to getting back into the pool, and plan on taking another soon, just to make sure I'm on the right track. I also recently found a training plan that I'd like to loosely follow. And, as an early Christmas / birthday / Mother's Day gift from James, my first official road bike will be arriving later this week!

Ultimately, I hope to participate in the same women's sprint distance triathlon that I signed up for a few years ago - which will likely occur a little over four months after I'm to give birth. I know it's not a ton of time to train, but I played a 90-minute soccer game just six weeks after giving birth to Sammy, so physically, I know it's not totally impossible. However, I also know that once the baby is born, my life will likely change drastically, as will my priorities. So who knows - by then, a triathlon could be the farthest thing from my mind. But for the moment, it feels good to have a goal, and it's the motivation I need to get in my workouts.

Working Out While Pregnant Disclaimer
For the record, I know next to nothing about women's health issues, pregnancy and working out. I do know, however, what works for me, my body and my family. Every woman is different, every body is different, and every pregnancy is different. What I'm doing right now might not work for me another month or two down the road. I've had friends whose activity levels were very limited during pregnancy, and I've had others go into premature labor after a particularly grueling spin class. The most important advice I've read in regard to working out while pregnant is to listen to your body, and stop the second you feel the urge. For now though - my body says to keep moving!

1 comment:

  1. I think chasing a toddler all day is a training category unto itself!