Running while pregnant
Pregnancy can have a tremendous bearing on the running career of a woman. She is confronted with the prospect of either a 10 to 12 month layoff, or with an equivalent period of cautious running, of playing it by ear. The second option is often difficult to maintain due to psychological and physical factors, as well as from lack of guidance, but since a long layoff is so hard to come back from, many opt for cautious running anyway. When pregnancy is non-pathological, and the mother-to-be is not overwhelmed with fatigue, why not run?
The runner should tell her physician about her physical activity during pregnancy. Chances are that he/she will not give much more advice than make sure you do not overexert. That is wise advice, but frequently difficult to apply because overexertion often becomes apparent after the fact, when fatigue has already set in. The runner should approach her pregnancy running gingerly...
A body cannot do too many things at one time, and the female body during pregnancy will devote its energy to the growth of the fetus. Race results will inevitably take a downward slope. The pregnant runner who continues to race should keep that in mind, and not expect PRs.
Anaerobic work is not necessary, because competitive goals must be abandoned during pregnancy. I found that short wind sprints satisfied my desire to run fast, while avoiding the anaerobic/lactic state. One should also try to run in areas with available restrooms (or discreet natural WCs), since in early pregnancy, it seems as though one needs to urinate nearly every 50 yards!
As the belly becomes more pronounced and morning sickness wanes, the pregnant woman may feel better than ever. However, fatigue can sometimes run even faster than the best trained runner, so dont get caught! Mileage should remain sub-normal, but needn't be drastically reduced unless the runner feels uncomfortable. It does no long-term damage to a running career to stop running, so she should continually listen to her body and decrease if necessary.
A race or two can be exciting and stimulating but only if it is approached with the idea that it will be no more than a slightly-faster-than-usual run with a lot of friends. Moderation is the name of the game. A pregnant runner should not participate if it is a very hot day, or if she tends to be compulsive and knows that she may not be able to hold herself to a reasonable pace. Developing a relaxed attitude can be quite a learning experience. I tend to be an unreasonably fast starter in my non-pregnant races. I recently ran a four mile road race while four months pregnant. I concentrated quite consciously on "Take it easy, stay relaxed". Consequently, I ran the first mile 45 seconds slower than usual. The second consequence was that my finish time was only 20 seconds off my personal record, without straining! Relaxation is an important aspect of running - and even more so during pregnancy.
Stretching is helpful, but must be performed with caution. The pregnant woman's body prepares for delivery by providing the ligaments and joints with greater stretching ability so as to facilitate the passage of the baby at birth. This increased laxity makes the joints and ligaments more susceptible to injury. Furthermore, the center of gravity shifts, so it becomes easier to fall or take a bad step which could result in sprain or injury to mom or baby.
Increased calories are needed by all pregnant women, and even more so by the pregnant runner. Pregnancy is not a time to try to watch weight, especially since running after delivery will work off any excess pounds in a short period of time. A well-balanced, nutritious diet should be maintained.
A cat-nap is a coveted luxury for even the non-pregnant runner, but extremely helpful for the expectant mother. If fatigue starts creeping up, off with those shoes, and time out!
Racing at this time becomes a misnomer, and the almost-mother will be way back in the pack, fun-running. She should enjoy the decreased pressure. It is vital to keep from overheating by drinking plenty of fluids, not running on very hot days, and not exercising too vigorously. Lower back pain can be a problem at this time. Even the non-pregnant runner can benefit from putting her feet up, since resting with elevated legs is helpful in the prevention of varicose veins. Now is the time to take running easy, since relaxation is valuable preparation for delivery.
Preparation for birth is somewhat like getting ready for a marathon or an important race. Emotion has to be channeled for constructive use. Concentration and calmness are valuable tools. Labor is not necessarily easier in the runner than in the non-athlete, but a runner will know how to persevere and make use of her physical strength when necessary. Runner tummy muscles are a definite asset.
Run The Planet ( www.runtheplanet.com
the permission to reprint the article "Running while
pregnant" by Annemarie Jutel.
This article has informational purpose and isn't a substitute for professional advice.
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