Today’s run was actually a good one. I felt only some sciatic nerve pain. I felt like I had to pee for only half of the four miles. With a mile walk break in the middle I was able to catch my breath and relieve the pressure from my pelvis and bladder. I enjoyed the brisk walking pace and the rockin’ holiday Pandora station, yet I couldn’t help but feel guilty for walking.
For runners there are all sorts of expectations we have for ourselves. Distance requirements for the run or miles to count. A pace we have to run to call it a run rather than a jog. Only a certain number of walk breaks to make it a “real” run. It’s funny in a way because when I hear others discuss their distances or paces from a recent run I always think good for them or way to go-never that doesn’t really count. When it comes to my own running I feel so different.
I’ll be the first to admit that running during pregnancy hasn’t been everything I thought it would. I envisioned a slower pace and a bigger bump to navigate, but really wasn’t prepared for the discomforts. Maybe part of this problem or unpreparedness was the fact that I so much wanted to love running while pregnant. I read blogs of runners who ran 30, 40 or more miles a week. I read about runners logging long runs on the weekends in the teens and completing half marathons. In truth, I read what I wanted to hear. I didn’t read any posts or articles about running not being enjoyable during pregnancy. Was that because there weren’t any or was I just not wanting to face the possibility? I don’t honestly know.
What I do know now is that each preggo run is different, but overall I wouldn’t describe the experience as fun, carefree or a time to forget your worries as it often was in the past. It most certainly is not a time to run the days stress into the ground and nail an awesome pace without perceiving much effort as it often was. Days of pushing yourself to see how hard you can go and feeling such satisfaction and pride that your night is awesome are not going to happen while carrying a growing baby.
So what does happen?
Running while pregnant is different every single day, but overall I feel slow and sluggish. Each run inevitably brings the feeling of I have to pee. That sensation varies between I think I have to go, to I’m almost positive I have to go, to I have to go but I can hold it, to I need to pee now, RIGHT NOW! Every run is different, but even with a support belt the baby is on the bladder. Luckily there hasn’t been a “Did I just pee?” experience yet. Stay tuned though. Lucky you!
Running pregnant brings a whole new set of worries with it. Perhaps it’s more the first time preggo runner, but I’m still constantly checking in with myself about how I feel. Do I feel too much pressure, too hot, too tired, are my legs tired sore (this happens easily for me when it almost never happened before), am I breathing too heavy? Between checking in with myself and thoughts of how much I have to pee, it is a rare day where I lose a mile anymore. I feel every mile!
So after all this complaining why do I do it? I’m still running although slower and sometimes with walk breaks, in a sexy girdle, often not sure if I’m about to pee myself because…afterwards I feel good. I feel like my old self again. I feel stress washed away, more energetic and wanting to take care of myself in a healthy way in general. All the old feelings of running are still there even if they take the entire run to find them.
I share my experience thus far not to whine, complain or be negative. I share this not to gain sympathy or encouragement. I share my experience because I wish I had heard more from pregnant runners whose experiences weren’t always great. I wanted to put an honest post out there so others might know ahead of time that sometimes running while pregnant can be challenging. It often isn’t fun during, but the after is rewarding, healthy and can bring peace and consistency to a time in life that is often out of our control.
Since reading more on the topic I know I’m not alone. I’m doing my best to balance being healthy and active with not pushing too hard. I’ve read too many articles on pelvic floor weakness/damage and incontinence during running not to be cautious. You’ve been made aware!
The most important lesson to learn from all of this is to run for yourself whether pregnant or not. Run your own distances, paces and races. Run your own walk breaks or not. Run for you. Read about what others do to motivate and encourage yourself, but do not compare. Let other’s experiences be a guide, not a rule manuel. I’m finding more and more that if I run for myself I find more success and personal satisfaction…AND that is what running really should be about! Run for yourself!