I had hoped to be able to write some posts about hiking while pregnant, but COVID-19 led to the closure of most local trails up until a few weeks ago, so the last hike I went on while pregnant was way back when I was only 4 weeks along. We do have plans to get out hiking again now that parks have reopened and have a couple trips planned for the summer, but in the meantime, here is a post about the physical activity I have been able to keep up with: running.
I want to preface this by saying so far I have had a very easy pregnancy with minimal negative symptoms – my experiences aren’t necessarily typical or representative of what another pregnant person might experience.
I have been a regular-ish runner for a few years, mostly managing to do it regularly in the spring through fall and then going into a bit of a hibernation in the winter. This year was no exception, so at the start of the pregnancy, I had not yet established my regular running routine for the year.
I was very surprised by how quickly and hard fatigue hit in the first trimester. Up until 8 weeks or so, I only managed one run each week and took a lot of naps. I was pretty lucky in terms other negative symptoms though, I only had mild nausea, occasional heartburn and a lot of burping – it was kind of like a several week-long very mild hangover.
After 8 weeks though, I was able to get back to running three times each week and other than some annoying bladder pressure and being a bit slower, didn’t notice any impacts.
Moving into the second trimester, my fatigue and mild nausea resolved and I continued to increase my mileage slowly.
I started using kinesio tape to support my belly around 18 weeks or so – I’m trying to avoid buying a support band/belt as running with one in the heat of summer sounds horrible. I’ve been referring to this blog post for taping methods – so far I’ve found a one strip “belly belt” and one vertical strip along the centre to be sufficient. I only find I need the extra support on my long runs (>10km); on my shorter runs I haven’t experienced any significant pain or issues.
I have started experiencing some pregnancy related symptoms on my runs in the past few weeks (about 18 weeks onwards), but nothing that has made me need to stop a run early yet. So far I’ve encountered the following:
- Bladder pressure – This went away at the end of the first trimester and then came back again. Generally I just run through it/ignore it – the few times I’ve been convinced I actually needed to pee and stopped at a washroom, I’ve been trolled by my body and only peed the tiniest amount.
- Round ligament pain – This mostly seems to be an issue when I’m under-hydrated or getting close to the end of long runs. Using kinesio tape has helped a lot with this and generally I can just run through it and it goes away.
- Relaxin / joints loosening – This is a new one I’ve experienced since 20 weeks or so. Another thing that is mostly an issue near the end of long runs, it isn’t painful, just a weird feeling in my hips. Being more conscientious of my form and applying counter-pressure (pushing inwards on my hips) seems to help.
In terms of clothing, most of my pre-pregnancy running stuff is continuing to work well. My weight gain / body changes have been pretty much exclusively in my belly, so low rise shorts still fit fine under the bump and my running shirts have enough stretch to accommodate everything so far. My sports bras unfortunately haven’t been so lucky – one I had to stop using relatively early on because the band started becoming painfully tight, and although my other one has enough stretch in the band, it is on the verge of not being supportive enough and allowing too much bounce with my slightly larger cup size. It is still functional though and I’ve gambled and ordered a new sports bra online that should hopefully be a bit more supportive assuming it arrives sometime soon.
Overall so far so good though, and I have run just over 300km during pregnancy at this point. My pace is about 1:00/km slower than last year at this time, but this could also be because our current physically distant running route has significantly more elevation gain than the seawall where we would typically run. I’m optimistic I’ll be able to keep it up at least until the start of the third trimester.
I’ve felt very lucky to continue to be physically active regularly through running, especially as working from home and less frequent grocery shopping have eliminated all the little bursts of physical activity and walking I would typically be doing throughout the week.