If you’ve been around Custom over the past year, you may have heard there are some new additions for a few of the staff members. And of course since our main focus is physical therapy for runners, everyone has been curious about if you can run throughout your pregnancy and what that may look like. The short simple answer is usually yes!
How to Get Started
I previously wrote a blog about my experience running until I was 36 weeks pregnant. My daughter arrived early (at 37.5 weeks) so I pretty much ran until the end. Running during pregnancy will look and feel different for every woman but is generally considered to be safe if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women perform moderate intensity exercise 20-30 minutes per day most days of the week. In 2020, they finally added the benefits of exercising while pregnant to their guidelines.
There are however, a few absolute don’ts when it comes to running during pregnancy. The biggest one is don’t start a running routine if you didn’t have one before. Just like on race day, nothing new during pregnancy! Additionally, if you have any pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia or are carrying multiples, consult with your OBGYN team if running is safe during this time.
If running is deemed safe for you to continue during your pregnancy, be prepared to modify! A study on competitive female distance runners found that 70% continued to run during pregnancy but reduced training load each trimester. Typically it’s the most difficult to maintain a consistent running routine in the 1st and 3rd trimesters. The first trimester comes with a variety of symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting to just general fatigue. There will be some days just getting to work is exhausting and any type of exercise isn’t happening. That same fatigue returns in the 3rd trimester in addition to your body shape being very different. Balance becomes more challenging as your belly will pull you forward and even easy paced runs will feel like a workout.
The Biggest Keys
As always, listening to your body is important for runners but especially when you’re growing a human. In addition to modifying your overall mileage and intensity, you’ll need to change your nutrition too. Fueling and hydration requirements increase naturally during pregnancy to support the changes your body is going through. Adding running on top of that means it’s even more important to hydrate and eat appropriately before, during and after running.
If you’re planning to continue running while pregnant and need some guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out, at least one of us has been there!
Lisbeth Hoyt PT, DPT, CSCS