In both of my pregnancies, pretty much as soon as I got a positive pregnancy test my running started to change. The reality is that as soon as you have a little one growing inside of you, priorities shift physically- whether you want them to or not- and your body doesn’t always feel like it’s your own anymore. For me, this meant I had to learn about my new body and how to adapt my running as it changed week by week. I know everyone is different, but here is my experience with running during the 1st trimester.
Less mileage. Before my first pregnancy I was actually training for a 50K, so I was running 40-50 miles a week. This time around I wasn’t really training for anything but wanted to keep my options for a fall marathon open in case I didn’t end up getting pregnant, so I was keeping my mileage between 30-35 miles a week. In both pregnancies I cut back on this right away. I just found that my pregnant body feels better maintaining 20-25 miles a week. Anything more than that takes longer for me to recover from and leaves me feeling exhausted. This is my sweet spot for now :)
Slower pace. Almost immediately after becoming pregnant I found it more difficult to keep the same paces I was before pregnancy. I felt sluggish and heavier even though I was in the very early stages of pregnancy and hadn’t really gained much weight yet. I think my body was just working so hard at growing the baby because there is SO much development that happens in the first trimester, that I didn’t have a lot leftover when it came to running. I had enough to get through my runs, but they were definitely at a slower pace- I went from 8:30-9:30/mile to 9:30-11:00/mile (depending on the day) pretty quickly. Also, running slower just feels better on my body after pushing it so hard in training for the last 2 years. I’m welcoming the break, that’s for sure!
More rest. Along with less mileage and a slower pace, in the first trimester, I definitely felt that I needed to make sure I took at least 1 rest day a week. Before pregnancy I was doing my summer running streak from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and so I never had a real day off. I continued with this pattern for a few weeks, not running every single day but taking Body Pump on my non-running days, and I couldn’t handle it for very long. I started taking Mondays completely off and it helped a ton. I also noticed that a long run would wipe. me. out. I would feel great while running but then be falling asleep on the couch by mid-afternoon. More rest is definitely necessary in the first tri!
More food. I was VERY hungry in the first trimester, and running made me even hungrier! Even without running, I felt like my metabolism was in overdrive some days as it worked to grow this baby, so on days that I ran I would have to make sure to bulk up my meals a bit and have a lot of snacks on hand. I could go from full to hungry at the drop of a hat and I needed to be prepared. And after a long run, well… I just wanted ALL THE FOOD ALL DAY LONG!!!
More bathroom breaks. The first trimester seems way too early to need too many bathroom breaks, right? The baby is so small, how could it possibly be pushing on your bladder already? This is what I thought with both pregnancies but with both I still seemed to need to go to the bathroom more often. Apparently hormonal changes cause blood to flow more quickly through your kidneys, filling your bladder more often. I always need to make sure to empty my bladder completely once or two times before leaving to run and I always end a short 3-5 miler needing to go again. For long runs, I definitely need to make sure to plan to be near a bathroom about halfway through or else it’s bad news!
Bigger clothes. I definitely found that the comfort of my running increased greatly when I started wearing larger clothes to accommodate my growing body- specifically, the boobs and the waist. Even in the early weeks when I had a lot of belly bloating rather than a real baby bump, I hated the feeling of tight shorts around my midsection. And the boobs- oh the boobs. They hurt so bad and grew so fast. I was wearing my larger sized sports bras and shorts much earlier this time around, and I’m so thankful I did. I feel a lot more supported and I’m no longer chafing in bad places. Nobody wants to squeeze themselves into clothes that are too small and unflattering, especially when you’re newly pregnant and trying to deal with all the changes that come with it. Suck it up and buy the biggest sizes, or even better, maternity workout clothes! I promise you’ll feel SO much better!
Racing for fun. Being pregnant doesn’t mean you can’t participate in races anymore- if anything it makes it even more fun! With both pregnancies, I LOVE the idea of racing with no pressure. Signing up for races keeps me motivated and lets me celebrate the fact that I’m able to run through pregnancy. Last time around I did 9 races over the 9 months, and this time around I’m hoping to do the same.
Running = more energy and less nausea. For me, the hardest part about running in the first trimester was getting out the door. Even though I did feel sluggish on some runs, I knew if I just got out there, I’d feel a lot better afterwards and that’s what kept me motivated. Despite what many people think, running actually gave me more energy and took away my nausea. Most of the time I felt the best that I did all day when I was running.
More aches and pains. For some people, running in the first trimester can come with some aches and pains. In my first pregnancy, I would sometimes feel some achiness down below after a longer run. It didn’t happen quite as much this time, but I have felt it. My doctor has said this is most likely round ligament pain, which are the ligaments that hold up the uterus. Sometimes it feels like sharp pain on either side of your lower belly/groin, but it can also feel more like dull achiness according to my doctor, who assured me it’s normal.
Out of breath. Early in the first trimester I found myself feeling out of breath when I would run up hills or even go up the stairs at school. I’ve read this is caused by increased progesterone levels and more blood volume circulating through your body which needs more oxygen… I don’t really know all of the details, but it was definitely a noticeable side effect of the first trimester!
Appreciating every run. One of my best running buddies is currently 34 weeks pregnant with her second baby. With her first, she was able to run until her baby was born, but she’s had a lot more issues this time around, including varicose veins that are very painful. These issues have pretty much caused her to have to stop running altogether, and when she does attempt to run it’s pretty painful. Her experience has reminded me not to take running during pregnancy for granted. Just because I ran until delivery last time relatively pain-free does not mean that I will be able to this time. This mindset helps me keep everything in perspective and it really makes me appreciate every run I am lucky enough to go on with my little running buddy inside of me.