Taking a break from running during pregnancy

Earlier this year I ran my first marathon. Now I probably couldn’t even run a mile. It’s been seven months since I last ran – the longest stretch I’ve gone without running in 15 years. Running has always been an integral part of my adult life. It’s been my outlet for stress, my connection to the outdoors, my time to reflect.

running
Feeling strong during my marathon at Walt Disney World earlier this year.

Soon after I found out I was pregnant, I tried to go running. Something about it didn’t feel right, though. Maybe it was my first trimester nausea or my motherly instinct already kicking in and telling me to slow down, to stop sprinting through life.

Early on, I realized I was embarking on a new marathon of sorts, a nine-month one that would push my body and mind in ways they had never been pushed before.

I’m seven months pregnant and people still ask me, “Are you continuing to run?” I’m often surprised by the question, especially when I look down and see my growing belly — a protrusion that sometimes makes it difficult to walk, let alone run.

“No,” I tell them matter-of-factly. “I haven’t really run at all during my pregnancy. It just never felt right.” Surprisingly, I haven’t felt any shame or guilt when admitting this. I thought I would, given my tendency to cling to my identify as a runner, a marathoner.

I think I'll be eager to return to running after Madelyn's born. Already looking forward to using my new BOB jogging stroller!
I think I’ll be eager to return to running after Madelyn is born. My aunt and uncle bought me a BOB jogging stroller, which I can’t wait to use around St. Pete.

Pregnancy has been an ongoing lesson in learning how to be more gentle and patient with myself. Instead of running, I’ve been walking, swimming, and taking prenatal yoga classes. Exercising every day helps me maintain part of my routine in the midst of so many physical and emotional changes.

Sometimes, I get frustrated during prenatal yoga. It’s a flow class, so the instructor keeps us moving throughout the entire 75 minutes, with the exception of a few minutes at the beginning and the end.

Some nights, my belly feels huge, my body heavy.

Another downward dog??? I’ll think to myself after the 10th one in class.

I don’t want to bend down and touch my toes again; my belly won’t let me.   

Is it shavasana time yet? 

Despite my frustrations, I’ve been thinking a lot about how yoga and pregnancy have helped me to become more accepting of my body’s limitations. I’ve learned to embrace modified poses, realizing I don’t have to fuel my ego and my competitive side by always doing the fullest expression of every pose.

Madelyn seems to like yoga; she kicks a lot after each class.
Madelyn seems to like yoga; she kicks a lot after each class.

So what if my dancer pose isn’t quite as graceful as it used to be? Or if my tree pose is a bit lopsided? Instead of lamenting my imperfect, sometimes wobbly poses, I’ve embraced other ones. During every class, I channel my inner goddess, warrior, and happy baby.

I’ve sunken into child’s pose, not with guilt but with gratitude for a pose that gives me a temporary reprieve. I’ve also challenged my body, doing poses that strengthen my arms, my legs, and my pelvic floor (a body part that becomes a greater part of your vocabulary when you’re pregnant!)

“Breathe into the discomfort,” my yoga teacher says, reminding me that discomfort is not the same as pain. I know that in two short months, I’ll have to breathe into a lot of discomfort during labor and push through pain.

I’m almost 30 weeks into my pregnancy and I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to go to yoga. I plan to go for as long as I can, so long as I feel safe and (mostly) comfortable. Everything I’m doing now is preparation for the big day.

This nine-month marathon is challenging, but it’s the most rewarding physical endeavor I’ve ever endured. The finish line is getting closer, and I’m walking toward it with more excitement each day. 

We can't wait to meet Madelyn!
Troy has always been my cheerleader during my races. That’s now the case more than ever during this nine-month marathon. This isn’t the best quality photo, but I love how happy we look in it.

2 thoughts on “Taking a break from running during pregnancy

  1. Making time to get on the mat even in the last weeks of pregnancy was so helpful and grounding for me. Helpful to alleviate hip pain and for the ritual of taking care of myself and my baby. Even if it just meant sitting in child’s pose or fire log pose. And I did a bunch of weird poses trying to get baby into the optimal fetal position during the last 11 days of pregnancy (beyond 40 weeks). I’m just now getting back into running at 8 months pp with baby number 2. Going to run my first post-baby 5k on Thanksgiving. It’s been great to take it slow. Good luck as you prepare for baby! Such a special time.

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