5 Ways to Maintain Running Fitness While Pregnant

You held out as long as you could, but that last run was just…painful. Your hips hurt while run­ning and ached for hours after­wards. You can’t see your feet but you can safe­ly assume they are swollen. Your nor­mal sports bra seems to have shrunk—a lot. What’s a preg­nant run­ner to do? 

Not every preg­nant run­ner expe­ri­ences enough dis­com­fort to need to stop run­ning at some point in her preg­nan­cy, but a lot—dare I say the majority?—of us do. It’s not a fun day when you have to put your run­ning shoes in the clos­et and kiss them good­bye for a few weeks or months, but it doesn’t have to mean run­ning can’t still be part of your dai­ly life. There is plen­ty you can do to keep your body and mind in run­ning shape, great­ly aid­ing your san­i­ty dur­ing preg­nan­cy as well as speed­ing up your recov­ery and return to run­ning postpartum.

Don’t Eat for Two Adults! 
It’s no small secret these days that the old adage of “eat­ing for two” is a bit off tar­get. Yes, you’ll need some addi­tion­al nutri­tion to grow a healthy baby and keep your own ener­gy up, but that cer­tain­ly does not con­sti­tute dou­bling your calo­ries. An active, healthy woman with­in her rec­om­mend­ed BMI (Body Mass Index) only needs approx­i­mate­ly 300–400 more calo­ries a day dur­ing preg­nan­cy. That’s a Clif Bar and some strawberries—not a third din­ner or a gal­lon of ice cream.

Keep Mov­ingprenatal_Yoga
Okay, so you feel huge, awk­ward, and unbal­anced, so run­ning real­ly isn’t a safe option right now. Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still be active and keep those run­ning-relat­ed mus­cles strong. Walk­ing, swim­ming, and pre­na­tal yoga are three great alter­na­tives that are very safe to prac­tice while preg­nant and are quite ben­e­fi­cial to runners.

Stay Pos­i­tive
If you have to stop run­ning at some point in the preg­nan­cy, which many women do, try not to focus on how much you miss run­ning, but focus on what you CAN do. You can exer­cise in oth­er ways (see above); you can cook a healthy and scrump­tious meal for your fam­i­ly; you can read too many par­ent­ing man­u­als; you can fin­ish your hol­i­day shop­ping, wrap­ping, and mail­ing ear­ly for the first time ever; you can final­ly take the time to learn how to cro­chet; you can cre­ate a human being inside your body. You’re freakin’ amaz­ing. And don’t you for­get it.

Revamp Your Moti­va­tion
Preg­nan­cy is one of the best times in a runner’s life to stoke a fire under your butt. There’s noth­ing like a forced break away from some­thing you enjoy to make you real­ly appre­ci­ate and miss it. Whether you take just the last few weeks off, or the whole 9 months and then some, ded­i­cate some of that gained time to final­ly read­ing some of those run­ning-relat­ed books you’ve had on your list for years; orga­nize your run­ning gear—as there’s noth­ing quite like a well-fold­ed and arranged cor­ner of run­ning clothes and acces­sories greet­ing you every time you open your clos­et; or line up your first post­par­tum race, pro­vid­ing your­self with the per­fect goal to help you regain your run­ning strength and con­fi­dence after Junior arrives.

Relax and Enjoy This Time
Sure, medals, shirts, and var­i­ous expo knick-knacks are fun rewards of run­ning, but they aren’t even on the same plane as the beau­ti­ful reward you’ll gain at the end of your preg­nan­cy. You have your entire life to run, but approx­i­mate­ly just one year (includ­ing post par­tum heal­ing time and adjust­ing to life as a par­ent) to be preg­nant and expe­ri­ence the mir­a­cle of a human grow­ing inside you. Enjoy it as much as you can. You won’t remem­ber much of the aches, pains, and nau­sea, but you will remem­ber how spe­cial the lit­tle kicks, sum­m­er­saults, and hic­cups felt.

By Audra Run­dle