6 Things I Learned About Running While Pregnant

Fun fact-  it’s not training season for me just yet! I’m once again an ambassador for the Cleveland Marathon, and this year I’m running the Cleveland half marathon. Lately, my focus on running these past few months since having a baby has been to get back some base mileage and slowly start to build up to 5-6 miles at a time for a long run. Not a lot, I know, but since my official 12 week program won’t start for another month, soI have a few weeks to relax, take training easy, and just enjoy running (or try to when it’s not negative degrees and icy!).

I’ll be sharing my training plan soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to reminisce. This time last year, I was a few months pregnant and “training” for the Cleveland 5k and 10k. As the months went on and race day got closer and closer, it got harder and harder to run. While I’m glad it’s easier right now, I can’t help but forget the joys of running while pregnant.

So here you go. I share this with you – for all the pregnant runners out there – as well as those who aren’t – now you know what it’s like. And why I kept it up!

Imagine this – you just ate a HUGE burrito and drank a jug of soda. Your bladder is full, you’re slightly winded and your feet are swollen. And now, you decide you want to go for a run. Sound like fun?

That may be a slight exaggeration, but that’s pretty much what it feels like to run while 6 months (and beyond) pregnant. And you know what? I still ran throughout both of my pregnancies up until the week I gave birth. Am I crazy? Maybe slightly. But I’d argue that (most) runners are. And as a runner, I hated to give up a part of me just because I was pregnant. It was something that made me feel normal, while everything else in my life was changing. And after talking to my doctor, I even learned there were some benefits to running – and all exercise – when pregnant. Exercise throughout pregnancy is actually recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Why? Exercise may:

  • Reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, preterm birth, preeclampsia, having a baby with high birth weight, and the need for a cesarean section
  • Improve your baby’s brain development
  • Help you experience less swelling during pregnancy
  • Lead you to have a shorter labor (fun fact: my second labor was so short she was born within 15 minutes of me arriving at the hospital!)

So, if you decide to keep running during pregnancy, here are some tips that I can offer based on my experience (NOTE: I am not a doctor. At all. I took a Survey of Bio class a semester at BC, but that’s as far as I got.  But fun fact, B was also in that class of 500 million people!):

1. First, talk to your doctor. See what he/she says is okay for you. I am not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be one.

2. Expect it to feel different. Even in the first trimester when you may not look different, your lungs are doing double duty and you may get out of breath easier or find your heart rate higher. And then as your body changes, your gait may, too. I found parts of my body hurt that had never been sore before. Listen to your body and do what you can do.

3. Don’t compare yourself. This is an important one. Don’t compare yourself to others or even to yourself. Both my pregnancies were very different, and I would sometimes find myself getting down because I was slower during the second pregnancy. Or, I’d be discouraged because I felt like my running was more hobbling/walking than sprinting. But remember – running while pregnant is HARD! Remind yourself of how amazing you are and all the benefits (above). Don’t expect to set any PRs. In fact, if you must wear your running watch, reset all the data. This will help you feel less discouraged and focus more on the enjoyment of being out there.

 

4. Be prepared to spend money on some new gear. Your feet may grow during pregnancy, leading you to need new shoes. Your running clothes? They maaaay not fit you when you’re 7 months in. I also highly recommend a support belt – this helped tremendously as I got larger.

5. Go early in the day. I’m lucky that I’m a morning worker-outer as it is, but during pregnancy, this was even more important. A morning run helped not only reduce my swelling later in the day, but I felt much less full (and not like I was running with a belly full of burrito) and it was easier to move my body. Immediately going for a run also helped with my morning sickness.

6. Stay hydrated. It’s much easier to overheat, get dehydrated, etc. during pregnancy. So if you’re going to be running or doing any exercise, make sure to keep up on the water.

Bonus: Have fun! Don’t forget why you’re doing it in the first place and enjoy your time running. Take photos so that you can show your future children the amazing feats you accomplished with them.

Are you training for the Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon or any of the other events right now? If so, don’t forget to use my 10% discount code – MC2019! 

NOTE: A version of this blog post first appeared from me on Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine’s website. Check it out, and check out all my posts with them.

Hashtag Bashtag (A.K.A. an awesome weekend)

WOW, what an amazing, fun, busy weekend! It was definitely one of those weekends where I kind of feel like I need a weekend just to relax from my weekend … if you know what I mean?

The past few years I’ve gone to NY for Mother’s Day to spend the weekend with my mom and grandma. My grandmother passed away earlier this year, and my parents visited last weekend, so I decided to spend Mother’s Day weekend in Cleveland with B’s family. While I missed seeing my family, it really was an amazing weekend to be in town. The weather was great for walking to the West Side Market, doing a long pre-work run with Nicole, dancing the night away at the St. Martin De Porres Birthday Bash, walking to Ohio City for brunch AND having an outdoor Mother’s Day Feast.

Okay, that’s already too many words and I have too many photos/things to share. So here’s a glance at our awesome weekend in photos … and a few more words.

"5:24 a.m." Blech.

“5:24 a.m.” Blech.

The weekend started early – well Friday started super early – with a 12ish mile run before work with Nicole. We had planned on doing about 10 to get ready for the Cleveland half marathon we’re doing THIS WEEKEND but somewhere along the route we made a wrong turn and thus the extra mileage. It was super humid out, nearly 70 degrees and both Nicole and I were getting over a cold. Anyway, that meant we could barely breathe, barely talk (okay, who am I kidding, of course we talked the whole time but it wasn’t as much as we used to) and felt awful. Nothing like a  bad long run the week before your race!

Oliver and Sofia enjoying some sugar before bed

Oliver and Sofia enjoying some sugar before bed

Friday night, our niece and nephew were having a sleepover at my brother-in-law’s house. Which meant of course we had to go over and hang out with them for a little bit. Before going back and sleeping in my own bed instead of sleeping on the floor (which was a good call).

My awesome breakfast at Phuel.

My awesome breakfast at Phuel.

Saturday was pretty relaxing. B and I decided to get brunch at the new restaurant that opened across the street from us, Phuel Cafe. GREAT decision. I’m not a big “out-to-brunch” fan but I may have to change my mind so we can go back there often. B had some great pancakes and I had their homemade granola/fruit/yogurt parfait with some lemongrass tea. SO GOOD.

B about to enjoy his dark chocolate pancakes

B about to enjoy his dark chocolate pancakes

After that we decided the weather was warm enough, but not too warm, to walk to the West Side Market and get some groceries. Since I hadn’t planned on going for a run, this was a great decision – days I don’t run I get restless for some reason if we don’t do any sort of activity.

Some guys were painting a sign along our walk so I snapped a photo.

Some guys were painting a sign along our walk so I snapped a photo.

Saturday night was the St. Martin De Porres Birthday Bash! It was a benefit for my sister-in-law’s school and a really fun event. We bid on some items at the silent auction, enjoyed the gorgeous scene at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Atrium and even got in some dancing. It was fun to get dressed up and go out with B’s family 🙂

B's family - all dressed up!

B’s family – all dressed up!

IMG_20140510_195918

We took the bus to the event ... and of course I snapped a photo with the chandelier while we were waiting

We took the bus to the event … and of course I snapped a photo with the chandelier while we were waiting

Sunday morning we woke up to another gorgeous day – meaning it was another perfect excuse to walk to Ohio City and get brunch. After stopping at my favorite tea shop and B’s favorite coffee shop, we headed to Town Hall to enjoy their patio and some food. I ❤ patio weather!

Seen from our walk - a great view of downtown

Seen from our walk – a great view of downtown

That night we went over to B’s parents house for Sunday dinner-  but this time all the kids had prepared some food in honor of Mother’s Day. The theme was “paleo small plates” so we brought over some pork with a cabbage slaw. The entire set up was so colorful and we ended up eating outside, which was perfect.

Paleo small plates and our outdoor Mother's Day dinner

Paleo small plates and our outdoor Mother’s Day dinner

 

Bacon wrapped squash = amazing.

Bacon-wrapped squash = amazing.

 

Some questions for you:

What do you do the week before  a race? Do you eat/drink/do anything differently? My goal this week is to actually get sleep. Meaning not work until midnight and not wake up at 5:30 to run 😉 We’ll see if it happens – but since I’m typing it I’M GOING TO DO IT. (wishful thinking)

Any paleo-friendly foods you recommend? It sounds like we may have a few more paleo-themed gatherings coming up and finding small plates that were still substantial was somewhat difficult!

Have you ever had bacon-wrapped squash? IT WAS AMAZING. What’s your favorite thing to wrap in bacon?

Are you a bruncher? What’s your favorite brunch order? I’m not a brunch-goer typically, mainly because I don’t really enjoy going out for breakfast. I tend to enjoy lunch/dinner foods more – savory over sweet. 

Running After A Stress Fracture(s)

You may recall that I was diagnosed with not one, but multiple stress fractures after my Cleveland Marathon training. For some reason I got fractures in my tibia and my metatarsal area and was unable to actually run the day of the marathon. Yes, I trained and ran 20 miles – but I never got in my 26.2 miles during race day.

But I haven’t given up my running career. Will I ever be  a competitive marathoner? Absolutely not. And while I don’t have another marathon in my near future – I’m still running. AND I signed up for – and completed my first race since “the stress fracture incident!” While it may have only been a 5k – and our time wasn’t great (in our defense, B and I ran about two miles to get to the start of the race — so we ran 5 at least total), I’m still proud, and happy that we stuck it through and I’m still running.

racing after a stress fracture

Me, B and Mary post-race

Will I continue to run? Yes. Have I been running? Yes – today I completed nearly 4 miles in under 10 min/miles (a big deal for me .. still recovering!) and I’ve signed up for another race with my coworker, Cari (the first race I’ll have done without B!) … you can’t stop me – yes, you may be able to slow me down, but I’m still running!

Post 5k

So with that, I leave you with a few of my favorite running quotes:

“There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open.”
Nike

You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can’t know what’s coming.
Frank Shorter

My feeling is that any day I am too busy to run is a day that I am too busy.
John Bryant

And of course, a few from Pinterest:

 No matter how slow you go, you are still lapping everyone on the couch

Two Words: Stress Fractures

This time last week, I was anticipating my next Saturday night. I’d imagined myself chowing down on some pasta and bread with some other runners, getting pre-marathon jitters and feeling excited and proud about completing my first marathon the next morning.

That’s all changed. As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I found out what was ailing me — stress fractures. That’s right – plural. All week I’d been having some pain in my left foot and even after icing and taking NSAIDs, it wouldn’t go away. There was a nagging feeling that something was wrong, so I took some people’s advice and headed to an orthopedic doctor who specializes in sports medicine.

I had X-Rays on Friday – my left foot and my left lower leg – and sure enough, I had not only stress fractures in my metatarsal, but a large stress fracture in my tibia. That pain that I assumed was shin splints? That was the stress fracture. That weird bump that was growing on my shin? That was my tibia bone, growing back onto itself. I left the doctor’s office wearing an air cast (or as the dr told me, “the most expensive boot I probably owned”), an appointment for an MRI and a strict order NOT to run the marathon for fear my tibia would break in half mid-race.

That’s right, TWO days before the race, I was told not to run. Seventeen weeks of training, hundreds of miles, including a twenty mile training run — and the race was off. I would be cheering on my husband, sister-in-law and friends from the sidelines.

I know that I shouldn’t feel so bad, but I can’t help but feel that all my training was for nothing. All those Friday nights I stayed in, all those Saturdays I spent pounding pavement — what was it for? Maybe next week I’ll be feeling a little better, but right now, instead of pre-race jitters I’m feeling disappointment, sadness and frustration.

Have you trained for a marathon or another race but been forced to back out a few days before? Have you had stress fractures (of course I have them in multiple places). How did you recover – how long did it take to get back in the saddle and start running again?

Tunes Thursday – Marathon Edition

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that I’ve been training for a marathon for these past 5 months. Race day is Sunday, and despite a few pending injuries (UPDATE – I have an XRay appt tomorrow, so PLEASE keep your fingers crossed that I’m cleared to run!) I’m hoping, wishing, etc. to run! In honor of the race, here is a sampling of the songs I’ve been listening to this week, plus some ones that I like to run to. Hoping that this mix will bring me some good luck with my appointment tomorrow and that everything will be perfect on Sunday. Oh yeah – and I made this into a Spotify playlist* for you. You’re welcome.

Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

I love running to this. When the beat picks up, I can’t help but quicken my stride.

All These Things That I’ve Done – The Killers

This song was in a commercial for the Olympics a few years ago, and since then I can’t help but associate it with running.

What Makes You Beautiful – Glee Edition

A new edition to my list of workout songs, this one just makes me smile. Even if I’m in pain!

The Future Freaks Me Out – Motion City Soundtrack

This was my “Happy Song” in college.

Surf Wax America – Weezer

Flavor of the Week – American Hi-Fi

Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen

A guest pick from B: John Williams Olympic Song

A guest pick from my brother: Thieves in the Night – Hot Chip

Spotify playlist is approximately 37 minutes long, so you could potentially run a warm up AND a 5k while listening to this!

Marathon Training: Week Seventeen Recap

The second to last week of marathon training is done. I can’t believe it. That means only one more week until the big day that I’ve been counting down for 5 months. My teeth hurt just thinking about it.

Sadly, it was the worst week of training ever. After last week’s 12 miler, my tendon just wasn’t getting any better. The one good thing about the pain getting worse, and even hurting when I just walked to work, was that it was easier to tell where exactly it was hurting – and it wasn’t my achilles. The pain is actually in between my achilles and left ankle, leaving me to believe I may have posterior tibula tendonitis (self-diagnosis, I haven’t been to a dr yet). Look it up – every symptom that is described, I have. So, this week, not really by choice, I took it easy and only ran 10 miles. No, not 10 miles at once – 10 miles total. Ouch.

As I sit on the train from NYC to Albany (more on that later), I hate typing this update. I feel so defeated, so crushed and so destroyed. The week only called for  21 miles total – 3 mi, 6 mi, 4 mi and then 9 mi. Here’s what I did instead:

Monday: 6 mi – Wasn’t due for anything on Monday, but instead went out and ran my 6 for the week. And it felt great! While I was running. Post-run, and for the rest of the week, I was in pain. Hm, maybe the running the 6 on an off day wasn’t the best idea?

Tuesday: 35 minute elliptical – Was not feeling so hot in my tendon, so opted for a post-work elliptical workout. Probably again not the smartest – I put it on the highest incline, so after the workout I could feel my tendon inflaming. Note to self – using the elliptical on an incline is not great for a tendon pain.

Wednesday: 1.25 mi run (at just sub 9 min mile pace!) and then 20 min on the elliptical and then 30 min on the bike – Still trying to get some activity in instead of running. Biking and ellipticalling will help, right?

Saturday: 3ish (didn’t clock it) mi run around Central Park – Was in town to visit my family and celebrate Mother’s Day and it was beautiful out. Felt great to get in a run on the trip, but my feet were killing. I’m still getting used to my orthotics, so I’m hoping that was the reason for the pain.

Of course the weekend included a good amount of walking, including walking from our friend Jared’s apartment to my brother’s dorm (about 30 blocks or 2 miles) and walking the High Line with my parents … but still, I wish that the pain would go away and I can’t help but feel nervous about next week’s race. What if the not running these last two weeks doesn’t actually help me (and help me heal) but hurts my stamina instead? Can you get out of shape in 2 weeks?

End this post on a happy note – on the beautiful High Line with my parents:

Marathon Training: Week Sixteen Recap

Week 16 of my Cleveland marathon training program is complete. The week’s training called for Tuesday: 5. Wednesday: 8. Thursday: 4. Saturday: 12, for a total of 29 miles.  Due to more achilles pain, I didn’t follow the schedule completely – I took Thursday off and only completed 3 on Wednesday. I was determined to complete the 12 miler, so I took it easy in the days prior to the run.

Tuesday: 5 –  GREAT post-work run with B. My legs were tired and shins and tendon were hurting after the weekend’s 20 miler, but overall it was good to get out while it was still light and warm out. 5 miles felt SO much faster after a 20 mile run! We were booking it too, we finished the run in about 47 minutes.

Wednesday3ish – Less than stellar post-work run with B. We made it about 2 miles, and B started experiencing some serious shin pain and had to walk. My achilles started acting up, so I made it another mile and decided to just take it easy and use the bike for a half hour.

Thursday – Friday: 0 – Took two days off in hopes that Saturday would be pain free!

Saturday: 12 – It was the last double digit run of training, and for some reason it was a lot tougher than it should’ve been! B was still hurting so only made it three, but I was determined to complete the whole run. The achilles pain was acting up – maybe I’m still recovering from last week’s 20 miler?

Sunday: cross-training – and I actually did it! I usually just relax on Sundays, but I decided to use the elliptical for 55 minutes before heading to an Indian’s game with B and his parents. Thanks to B’s job, we had great seats — and they won! Below, some photos from the game, and one post-training.

I can’t believe that training is almost over. There are so many things I’ll miss about training, yet I’m getting excited for race day and for my parents to be there to support me and cheer me on for my first 26.2. Two more weeks!