Last time I posted about running, I was just getting back into it. Now, two months on, I can call myself a pregnant runner, hitting the footpath 2-3 times a week to tally between 10 and 20kms. The bump is more than obvious now, and I get more than the occasional double-take while strutting my stuff, but overall the public's reaction is positive. I even "competed" in a 5km event on the weekend, and other than a few surprised glances, I disappeared into the pack nicely. I entered the event with my best friend who has just started running. This was her first event, and the furthest she had ever run, and I was so proud to help her achieve that.
When I started running again, I found things a little uncomfortable. The pelvic instability was unnerving and the constant bladder pressure off-putting. I was also getting a bit of lower back pain after even a short run. After a bit of research, and discussion with a fellow runner who ran until she was full term, I purchased a Gabrialla abdominal support belt. This has made the world of difference. I haven't experienced any lower back pain since using it, and it makes everything feel a whole lot more stable. I wear it to run, for step aerobics, and even for grocery shopping if I know I'm going to be pushing a heavy trolley full of shopping and children. Thank goodness they come in black, so you can't even see it on top of my running shorts. I can't recommend enough, some sort of abdominal and lower back support garment for anyone thinking of running through their pregnancy.
So I was feeling good running again, even getting in up to 10km at a time, but I still had a niggle in the back of my head asking if I should be doing this. My obstetrician is supportive but certainly not an expert in the area of maternal fitness, so I decided to do a bit of my own research. If a science background has taught me one thing, it's to be educated. I came across the name James Clapp who is a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and an international expert on the effects of exercise during pregnancy. His latest book, Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, covers the most recent research on the effects of not just exercise, but training, on the mother and child. It provides answers to most of my questions and has reassured me that given I have a low risk pregnancy and am otherwise fit and healthy, regular exercise is a good thing. In the past, pregnant women were urged to exercise within specific heart rate ranges, but if running has taught me anything it's that heart rates vary hugely between athletes. Clapp's book appreciates this and suggests perceived exersion as a better determinant of exercising safely.
Another book I purchased was the Runner's World Guide to Running & Pregnancy. This provides month by month recommendations and advice for someone who was running regularly before pregnancy and wishes to continue to run.
So at 25 weeks I'm not sure how much longer I'll run for. I'm taking it one run at a time. Sometimes I have a shocking 3km run and end up walking home. Other times I can run 8-10kms comfortably. All I can do is listen to my body and follow the advice I have found and am given. I hope I can still run into the third trimester, but I'm not going to be devastated if I no longer feel comfortable. I'll take up another swim or stationary cycling session in place of a dropped run. I have to work off all the chocolate and jelly beans somehow!