Running Through Pregnancy: Steph’s Story
There are hundreds of resources with advice on pregnancy, exercising while pregnant, postpartum comebacks. It’s a lot. As a team committed to coaching many women who are also parents with full lives outside fo their running shoes, we set out a couple of months ago to hear from our own community.
Vancouver athlete and physiotherapist, Steph, was kind enough to share her story of running through pregnancy. More than 30 weeks in, she reflects on what she believes has allowed her to continue to run, feel good, and what she’ll consider when thinking about her postpartum comeback.
It’s been over 30 weeks running while pregnant and I have to say so far so good! I may have slowed down, dropped my miles and the faces in my pace group have changed, but I’m still out here, and couldn’t be happier. Since the day I found out I was pregnant I’ve treated every day I get to run as a gift, not a given (which is a really good lesson, pregnant or not) and my M.O has been to listen to my body.
At first, running really helped with my nausea, and since I’ve run almost my entire life, the guidance from my healthcare providers I could continue as I had been as long as I could still talk during my runs and that I didn’t feel dizzy. I’ve gradually slowed down, taken out a lot of my speed workouts, dropped my weekly mileage from 50-60km to now 30-35, in addition to dropping my paces 1min/km. Every week and every day is different in this whole human growing journey, and it’s been really important to let go of training plans, pace goals, and expectations and to listen to what my body needs.
Early on I added in an extra day of cross-training in the form of weights, pilates or boxing. I’ve always strength and cross-trained at least 1-2 days per week, which I believe is SO important to running strong and staying injury-free… sorry runners, but you can’t just run. I definitely think it’s a huge part of why I’ve avoided some of the common back, hip and joint pain of pregnancy.
Now that I’m into the third trimester and the finish line is in sight (obviously that’s what I’m visualizing), I’ve started to think of what my postpartum journey will look like and plotting my comeback. As much as I’m looking forward to setting some running goals again, my number one goal is to do it safely! I’m not in a hurry. My goal is to run forever and to enjoy it forever which means taking it slow and listening to my body and the experts.
I believe a huge misconception out there is that you can return to running after 6 weeks when your doctor or midwife clears you. However, most OB’s and midwives are looking at the healing of your pelvic floor or cesarean surgery not function which in my opinion, is WAY more important! It’s why I’ve been seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist and why they will be the opinion I’ll follow when it comes to returning to exercise and running.
Recently return to running guidelines have been released (a 40 page doc from PT’s in the UK, US and AUS), and the recommendations from this study, looking at LOTS of expert studies, state that “running is not advised prior to 3 months postnatal or beyond this if any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are identified.” Having this information has helped me set expectations on my own return.
As for the rest of my journey, I’m hoping to continue running for as long as possible, but I’m trusting my body (and my physio) to tell me if and when I need to stop. I know running will always be there for me, it’s not going anywhere and neither am I! It may be tedious and involve a lot of patience when it comes to my comeback, but I’ll get there and I know I’ll be back chasing my M2M teammates around the track when my body says it’s ready to go!