Racing and Pregnant? The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

A pregnant woman running

By Jamie King, Competitive Ultra Runner

If you’re a pregnant runner, your running experience has likely shifted a lot from your pre-pregnancy running days. For me, I went from running 30+ miles (48+ km) a week to somewhere between 10-15 (16-24 km). Or if I’m really having a good week, maybe 20.

And it wasn’t just the mileage that shifted, it’s also the way you feel while running, both mentally and physically. You start to look at running as something that is purely for fun and stress relief, rather than goals or PRs. So for all you running mamas out there…

Two women running

Here’s the scoop on racing while pregnant

The Good

No pressure, literally zero.

While tabling your goals might be frustrating at first, running and racing without a training plan or goal in mind can actually be really refreshing and freeing. You can toe the start line with zero expectations, and just go out and run for the fun of it.

Try something new!

When you’re pregnant you really just have to embrace the changes that come along with it. For me, that means trying new things – both for my racing and my training.  Since I can’t really be out running ultra marathon type distances while pregnant, I’ve now had the opportunity to try out some new distances. I went out for a trail 10K race, a distance I hadn’t raced since college, and loved that I could be finished racing in time for breakfast! Additionally, try incorporating yoga, strength training and even swim workouts into your weekly routine. Changing up your routine will likely mean less impact on your joints, and keep you feeling stimulated, happy, and challenged throughout pregnancy.

A baby belly

The Bad

Frequent pee breaks.

One of the most annoying things about racing pregnant is the frequent bathroom stops. Even if you use the bathroom before the race starts, you’ll likely find yourself needing to use the bathroom again shortly after you’ve started running. And probably again … and again.

The big bounce.

One of the hardest parts about running pregnant is finding ways to stay comfortable – meaning having the right gear to help you feel supported while you run. And it’s no easy feat to find gear that can truly support your growing breasts, tummy, and even feet. It’s likely that all of your pre-pregnancy running gear (yes, even your running shoes) will start to feel annoyingly tight.

The first time I raced pregnant, I experienced the most horrible nipple chafing I’ve ever felt. Being a smaller chested woman, I’ve never had to worry much about my bits bouncing or shifting around, but when you run pregnant, it might become all you can think about.

The Ugly

Embracing being #2

One of the major reasons I’ve had to scale back on racing throughout my pregnancy is because I’m a very competitive person. While I love running, and know that the health benefits of continuing with my running routine into my pregnancy are aplenty, I sometimes can’t help my inner competitiveness coming to surface.

When racing, I have found it mentally challenging (and deeply frustrating) to have to scale back my pace and even my effort. During a 20 mile trail race, for instance, I found myself having to walk a good portion of a steep, rocky uphill that I really wanted to run. I felt too out of breath, and the running felt too labored to me, and I knew the right thing to do was give it a rest. But being a competitive and very driven person, this proved to be a very tough pill for me to swallow.

Growing pains.

With a healthy pregnancy, you will experience weight gain, increased hormones, and of course the general fatigue of growing another human, and all of these things combined can come with an array of aches and pains: back pain, hip pain, joint pain, you name it. And there’s also the pressure – often in the pelvic and abdominal region – that comes from stretching in your body to accommodate your growing uterus. Take it from me, if you try your best to embrace it, and don’t get too caught up in what used to be, you may find a lot of joy and even some freedom from your new routines. Just remember to do what feels right in your body, and of course consult with your doctor before beginning any form of exercise while pregnant.

Happy running!

About Jamie King:

Jamie is the founder of Fit Approach, a popular online fitness community where bloggers, brands, and fitness enthusiasts come together over their love for sweat and their #sweatpink lifestyle. She is also a 500-hour RYT and owner of Flex & Flow, a popular training and yoga studio, as well as a competitive ultramarathon runner and all-around fitness enthusiast. Jamie has had the pleasure of teaching fitness and yoga since 2005 and is simply in love with all things movement.

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