Running While Pregnant for the Casual Runner

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woman holding running bib running while pregnant

Early in my pregnancies, I turned to the internet to find out more about running while pregnant. Everything I found was from marathon runners looking to keep their 6 minute mile times into their second trimester or wondering how to modify their speed workouts. My running is a little more…casual.

I’ve run a bunch of local 5K races, a handful of 10Ks, and trudged through a couple of half marathons. I’m never going to win a race and that’s fine with me. I run for exercise, for fresh air, and because it helps my mental health. During pregnancy and the post-partum period, I run mainly to feel like I’m not totally losing my identity to the new baby. So from one weekend warrior to another, here are my best tips for keeping up with my running.

Check with your healthcare provider

As with most things in pregnancy, check with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you. Pregnancy isn’t the time to start a running program, but if you were already running, it may be fine for you to continue. Talk it over with your healthcare provider, and make sure they have up-to-date information about what is recommended in pregnancy. During follow-up visits with my health care provider I mentioned I was still running to check they had no concerns.

Get the gear you need

Is your trusty sports bra no longer doing the job? Try something with a little more support, or double up. A pregnancy support belt (I loved the ReCORE FITsplint) may provide enough support to help you run later into your pregnancy. Don’t forget a good mineral sunscreen and a hat to protect your skin from pregnancy-related skin discoloration.

Avoid chafing

Running while pregnant or not, should be fun. You know what isn’t fun? Chafing. Depending on your body type and how your body changes during pregnancy, you might find success with different styles and sizes than you are used to. Are your regular running shorts riding up between your legs? Try longer shorts (like my all-time favorites, the Oiselle Long Roga) or grab a pair of maternity spandex biker shorts. And never underestimate the power of a good anti-chafe balm or some strategically applied talcum powder.

Check your shoes

You’ve probably seen photos of pregnant women’s swollen ankles and feet. It’s no joke. Relaxin can also cause feet to get wider and flatter. Check in with your feet and and ankles to see if your regular running shoes are still working for you. You may feel more comfortable in a bigger size, a wider shoe (New Balance offers multiple widths and Altra shoes have a wide toebox), or a shoe with more padding (like HOKAs).

Take it week by week

During the first trimester, fatigue and nausea may make running seem impossible. As you get later into pregnancy, changes in your center of gravity, core strength, and joints can also keep you on the couch. But a day or a week when you don’t feel up to running doesn’t have to mean the end of the road for your pregnancy running. The body changes so quickly in pregnancy that what doesn’t feel right this week may be fine next week, as baby repositions or your body adjust to the higher blood volume. Take an off week to focus on other exercise you enjoy, then give it another go.

Stop when it’s not fun anymore

The goal is to move your body, get some fresh air, and do something you enjoy. If you’re not enjoying it or it doesn’t feel right, switch to other exercise you enjoy. Running will be there for you when you’re ready.

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Jenny grew up in Central Massachusetts and after more than a decade living out of state and in Boston, she recently moved to Maynard. She lives with her husband and 2 young daughters. She’s a staunch introvert with a love of trail running, swimming, good books, and podcasts. She is a research administrator at a Boston hospital, with a focus on women’s health research, particularly endometriosis, as well as grant management. She’s passionate about raising confident and kind daughters and learning from and alongside other moms.

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