Reader To Reader: Running And Pregnancy

Should you train with a bun in the oven?


Posted: 4 October 2006
by Jane Hoskyn


"I recently found out that I'm pregnant, and have no idea how I should adapt my training. I love running and average 35-40 miles a week. I've trawled the web for advice, but I still feel confused about whether it's safe to continue. I definitely don’t want to give up!"
Tracy Alderson


Paula's bump - to run or not to run?
Your best answers...

  • I’m now five months pregnant and, like Tracy, averaged 35-40 miles per week before conceiving. My GP and midwife have both been supportive as far as continuing to run is concerned. The only real concession I made in the early months was to reduce my mileage considerably during the very hot weather in July, as it's not recommended to overheat whilst pregnant. My pace remained more or less the same, although I was careful to listen to my body and ease back if I felt tired. – Minks
  • Click here to read the rest of Minks's excellent response

  • The advice about running whilst pregnant is very confusing. As with everything to do with children, there are as many answers as there are children and runners. You just have to listen very carefully to your body. I found that I couldn't run after five months because the muscles around my ribcage hurt, and any new pain seemed like a bad idea, so I stopped.

    My other major concern was the long-term damage that running might do, particularly as your breasts increase in size. A good sports bra becomes essential just to go for a walk, let alone a run. So my advice is to think about the long term. Having to stop running is very frustrating, but only temporary; stretch marks are forever! – Karen M

  • My advice is to carry on running, as it's something you've always done, but don't take up anything new. I exercised right up until a couple of weeks before I gave birth to my third child. It was the quickest labour I had, and he was my biggest baby. Research suggests that it is safe and probably even beneficial to exercise in pregnancy, as long as your pregnancy is normal and you adapt your exercise. See your midwife regularly, and review your training if there are any complications. Good luck! – Angie Jackson
  • I ran during two pregnancies. If you've always been a runner, carry on. I ran three half-marathons when pregnant, finishing when I was six and a half months, as it got too uncomfortable. Just lower your goals and enjoy your running. – SSmiffy
  • Watch out for the over-stretching problem with hormonally-relaxed ligaments. And it's probably best to avoid running during labour... – eamonn
  • Congratulations! I continued to run through my three pregnancies, though much less than usual, and I stopped competing. Run as often or far as you feel comfortable with; otherwise go for a swim, or walk as an alternative way to get out in the fresh air and get the blood going. – happy hippo
  • Before I became pregnant with twins, I was doing 70-miles-plus a week, and sub-3-hour marathons. I walked/jogged up to 26 weeks (I'm currently 33 weeks), but then the weight of the two little rascals became too much, and I needed to stop so much for the loo it wasn't worth it. So I'm pretty much reduced to a three-mile walk and the odd swim. I'm doing something nearly every day, but do find I'm very tired, and doing too much makes me quite sick. My babies are doing very well, and they're a good weight, so I'm really pleased given that I'm a tiny person. My blood pressure is very low, and the walking helps with my swollen feet. So I think trying to keep up some sort of activity is invaluable. General advice for us mere mortals is reduce by 50 per cent and keep your heart rate below 140, but I think if you're an accomplished runner you can do more. – Mitchie Moo
  • I'm now 29 weeks pregnant. I've continued to cycle to work every day, and I will be taking part in a 20-mile sponsored walk in Snowdonia in just under two weeks' time. My blood pressure is excellent, I have no foot or hand swelling, and my baby is healthy. My advice is just to go with how you feel, and remember that you may not be able to do what you could. – LozF
  • I had my first child in August 2005. On the basis that I'd always run, I couldn’t see any reason why I shouldn't continue during my pregnancy for as long as I felt OK, which was for about six months – including some races. When it got uncomfortable I moved to a cross trainer. Believe me, exercise in pregnancy does help with birth and recovery. – annajo
  • Apparently I'm pregnant too (five weeks!) and I'm intending to keep on running. The three bits of advice from my previous pregnancy are:
    1 - Sports bra
    2 - Sports bra
    3 - Sports bra
    Acorn Ambler
  • And finally... congratulations to forum member Tonia, who give birth on Saturday September 30 to a 7lb 14 baby boy – the latest RW forum baby!


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Discuss this article

Hi folks,

I got an email from RW member Tracy, who's just found out that she's pregnant. Hurrah!

But she's in a bit of dilemma about her training. She wants some advice from people who've actually experienced the running/pregnancy conundrum themselves (you or your partner, or someone you know). If any forum members are trained in obstetrics, please lend us your wisdom!

Here's a digested version of Tracy's email:

"I recently found out that I'm pregnant, and have no idea how I should adapt my training. I love running and average 35-40 miles a week. I've trawled the web for advice, but I still feel confused about whether it's safe to continue. I definitely don’t want to give up!"

I know that Paula Radcliffe intends to continue training, but she's cutting down on her running and doing more non-weight-bearing exercise such as using the aqua jogger. I'm sure that years ago some doctors would have thrown up their hands and said "sit down for 9 months, dear", but attitudes have obviously changed for the better. But where do you draw the line? Please add your thoughts!
Posted: 29/09/2006 at 17:22

Jane
you will point her in the direction of the preggy thread on here wont you

that way she will get ongoing support from fellow runners-both in terms of running, and the pregnanacy
Posted: 29/09/2006 at 17:26

Best advice is:
Ingrid Kristensen,(golly, i'm old!)
Sonia O'Sullivan,
Paula Radcliffe.

Probably best to avoid running during labour.
Watch out for the over-stretching problem with hormonally relaxed ligaments.
gl
Dr "stretched" Nick
Posted: 29/09/2006 at 17:33

Cheers PH - actually I should mention it in the article too, and scoop up the best responses from that thread as well as this one.
Posted: 29/09/2006 at 17:38

that thread is superb

Minks on it has also been telling us how she has modified her running on the training thread
Posted: 29/09/2006 at 17:39

I ran during two pregnancies, if you've always done it, carry on. Luckily had a supportive midwife. Ran 3 half marathons finishing when I was 6 1/2 months as it got too uncomfortable! Go gil, just lower goals and enjoy your running :)
Posted: 01/10/2006 at 22:21

My advice is to carry on running as it is something you have always done, but don't take up anything new.

You should reduce your running as your pregnancy progresses, and watch out for overheating and ligament damage due to the softening effects of pregnancy hormones.

I exercised right up until a couple of weeks before I gave birth to my third child, it was the quickest labour I had and he was my biggest baby.

Research suggests that it is safe and probably even beneficial to exercise in pregnancy as long as it is adapted and your pregnancy is normal.

See your midwife regularly and if there are any complications you should review your training.

Good luck!
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 09:40

Firstly many, many congratulations I shall watch the replies with interest as this is a question that I have often asked myself when hopefully one day in the not too distant future I too will fall pregnant!! :o)
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 13:44

I ran 35-40 miles per week before I became pregnant and, with the blessing of my GP and midwife, saw no reason to discontinue my favourite activity!

I have had to make modifications to my running and have had to adjust mentally from being a serious competitive athlete to being 'just' a runner. My personal decision was not to enter any races until after the baby is born as I know I would be unable to jog round at the back!

I am now running about 25 miles per week and have had to slow down in the past couple of weeks as my runs were leaving me feeling more tired than they should have been. I look on each day and week I can continue to run as a bonus and am hoping to carry on for as long as possible. I will continue to modify my pace and distance to remain comfortable as things progress.

If you're having an uncomplicated pregnancy and you were already running beforehand, then as long as everything is progressing as it should be and your doctor/midwife is happy, then carry on. Exercise has been found to benefit both mother and baby, and from the evidence on the 'Pregnant Runner's Club' thread, seems to contribute positively to a shorter, less painful labour and a quicker physical recovery afterwards.


Posted: 02/10/2006 at 14:55

Congratulations!!
I continued to run through my 3 pregnancies although much less than usual and stopped competing.

Best advice I can offer is to listen to your body- run as often or far as you feel comfortable with otherwise walk or swim as an alternative to get out in the fresh air and get the blood going... Good Luck!!
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 17:32

I'm not a serious runner at all. I enjoy plodding along. However, I have kept up my plodding along so far, albeit even slower and not so far. At about 26 or 27 weeks I joined a gym so I am no longer out on the roads. This was for my own piece of mind and also due to the weather we are likely to have.

Some days running has seemed really tough and I have thought ' That'll probably be me by the end of the week' - but then the next time I went out it seemed much easier.

Lots of people who keep up with exercise seem to have quick births. With that in mind, I'll keep going to the gym.
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 18:10

I would do what you can until as long as you can. General advice for us mere mortals is reduce by 50% and keep your heart rate below 140, but I think if you're an accomplished runner you can do more. Before pregnancy I was a 70 miles plus a week sub 3 hour marathon runner.

I am pregnant with twins, now 33 weeks, and walked/jogged up till 26 weeks, but then the weight of the two little rascals became too much and needed to stop so much for the loo it wasn't worth it. I was doing up to 6 miles 3mins walk, 3 mins run, heart rate going up to 155, but then my body was pretty used to intensive training before I got pregnant. Was also going swimming 2-3 times a week covering 1.8-2km.

Now at 33 weeks, I am pretty much reduced to a 3 mile walk and the odd swim, so doing something nearly every day, but do find I am very tired and doing too much makes me quite sick.

My babies are doing very well, a good weight, so am really pleased given I am a tiny person. My blood pressure is very low and the walking helps with my swollen feet. So I think trying to keep up some sort of activity is envaluable.
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 18:33

ah!! mitche moo. 70 mile week sub 3 hr marathon, mere mortal dont think so!!!

just think after you have had the little darlings and raised your pain threshold you will be EVEN FASTER!!!
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 18:39

Apparently I'm pregnant too (5 weeks) and I'm intending to keep on running.

The three bits of advice from my previous pregnancy are:
1 - Sports bra
2 - Sports bra
3 - Sports bra

My only question is what do doctors mean by 'overheating'?
Posted: 02/10/2006 at 23:01

I am very much the plodder type, not anywhere near what Mitchie Moo and Minks are capable of - I'd be lucky to do a 2:15 half marathon!!!!

'Overheating' happens when you either don't sweat much (unusual in a runner I find - we all tend to be very efficient at sweating) or you stop sweating due to dehydration or your body can't process the liquid you've taken on quick enough. It therefore has no way of cooling itself down, and neither does the baby.

I had to stop running over the summer, as I sweat so much I physically couldn't carry enough water to ensure that I prevented overheating. Normally not a problem, but I'm now 29 weeks pregnant, so i decided baby came first. I have however continued to cycle to work every day, and I will be taking part in a 20 mile sponsored walk in Snowdonia in just under two weeks time.

My blood pressure is excellent, I have no foot or hand swelling, and my baby is healthy. My advice is just to go with how you feel, and remember that you may not be able to do what you could. You tend to find that your body will tell you what you can do, just don't push on when you feel exhausted, and remember that exhaustion can happen very quickly. I go from fine to knackered in an instant!
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 08:37

I would also agree with Happy Hippo to stop competing unless you know that you can be self-disciplined enough to jog round at the back. I can't, so I haven't entered any races for the duration of my pregnancy. It will be fun to have something to aim for after the baby is born though!

Also agree that you should listen to your body - it will tell you when to slow down or cut back. This can be hard to accept depending on how competitive you are - I found having to slow down a rather bitter pill to swallow at first. Now I'm enjoying the fact that I'm still running at 5 months pregnant and don't mind the slower pace. I've noticed things on my running routes that I've never observed before when I've been tearing along firmly focused on my time goal!
Posted: 03/10/2006 at 13:21

My running buddy is now 31 weeks pregnant. She started off with good intention of continuing to run throughout pregnancy and in the first three months she found it helped her sickness enormously. Unfortunately from about 4 months she had to stop as she was experiencing heavy bleeding every time she ran. We tried walking our usual running route which took twice as long but unfortunately the result was often the same. So she has been forced to stop altogether.

Docs are confident baby is fine and in no danger it his her who is bleeding but she obviously doesn't want to take the chance or end up anaemic either.

But she is looking forward to getting back out running as soon as she's had her 6 week check and that thought is keeping her sane at the moment.

Plus that should give her just enough time to train for the womens 10k in Glasgow in May.

So like everyone says you have to listen to your body and even if you can't continue running you will be able to get back out again after baby arrives. Believe me you'll be glad of the ME time then, and gives Daddy the perfect chance to bond LOL!

TT ;0)
Posted: 07/10/2006 at 11:53

Hi.  I've just found out I'm pregnant for the first time.  I had thought that it would be fine to continue running and from what I've read on this site that seems to be the consensus.  My Dr said I might need to cut back on my running.  I am entered in the Reading Half Marathon for the second year and am trying to decide if I should continue to train for it, or if I should just keep running shorter distances.  I have been averaging about 15-20 miles a week.  So far I don't feel any different to normal but I don't to overdo things.  Anyone got any advice?

B


Posted: 02/01/2010 at 22:25

Becky,

Have a look under the Health & Injury Forum and somewhere near the top should be the Pregnant Runners Thread and also the Mums Running Club which are both full of people who have run through pregnancy etc (I would post links but I'm rubbish at that).  You will find plenty of useful advice in there - look forward to seeing you there.


Posted: 02/01/2010 at 22:42

I need some advice. I recently took up running as a form of exercise. I have only been doing it for a couple of months and am still building up my pace, speed, distance etc. i have just found out that i am pregnant. Can i continue running as a beginner or should I stop altogether?
Posted: 06/12/2012 at 22:44

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