Pregnancy in itself is quite the adventure, but running during pregnancy is a journey of its own! Each trimester has its own highs and lows, triumphs and struggles – and the third trimester is by far the hardest for me. I’ve written previously about my experience running during the first and second trimesters, and now that I’m almost 38 weeks I feel like it’s a good time to write about the third. Here’s all the info about how my running has changed as baby and I continue to get bigger in the last few months of pregnancy!
Less daily and weekly mileage. I started cutting back on my mileage pretty much as soon as I hit the third trimester, based on what my body was telling me. Before that point I was running 20+ miles a week, and that slowly went down as the weeks passed. Now I waver between 10-14 miles per week and that feels good right now. After my last half marathon at 27 weeks, my long run went down to 7 miles which I held for a few weeks, then 6, and now 5. The fact that I can still go out and run 5 miles at almost 38 weeks is something that I am very appreciative and proud of! Next week I’ll most likely cut down more depending on how I’m feeling. I’m also taking 1-2 complete rest days a week. Less is definitely more these days, which I am totally fine with!
Slowing pace & “naked” running. Pre-pregnancy my natural running pace was between 8:30-9:30/mile. In the first trimester it quickly dropped to 9:30-11:00/mile, depending on the day. During the second trimester my pace pretty much stayed between 9:45-11:00/mile. In the third trimester, it is rare for my pace to be below 10:30/mile. Lately I’ve been averaging between 10:30-11:30, which is to be expected while carrying 25 pounds of extra weight, along with temperatures that are getting warmer. I tend to want to run without my watch a lot in the later months of pregnancy, just because all that really matters to me is getting out there, not how fast or slow I’m running.
Good and bad runs. Before the third tri, I would say 95% of my runs were good runs. I felt strong, and despite my slowing pace and growing belly, I didn’t really feel very pregnant. In the third trimester though, it dropped to more like 60% good runs and 40% not-so-good runs. I found that when my runs were good, they were awesome – but when they weren’t, they were pretty terrible. I found myself questioning whether I was finished with running all together after one of my bad runs, but then I’d go out again and feel fine again. Such a roller coaster!
Less energy. This trimester the fatigue has returned! I felt great during the second tri, tons of energy and I didn’t randomly fall asleep at work or on the couch at 6:00 p.m. anymore. However, once I hit the third tri it was a different story. I found myself feeling pretty drained most of the time. This is made worse by not being able to get a solid night of sleep. Obviously, this has impacted my runs a bit, leaving me feeling more sluggish. However, usually once I got started running it gave me the energy boost I needed.
Braxton hicks. During this trimester, I noticed that I would occasionally have Braxton Hicks contractions while running. My stomach would get really tight on and off, but there wasn’t any pain associated with it. I asked my midwives about this and they said that it’s normal to have these during activity and afterwards. They always went away when I stopped running, and if I made sure to drink a lot of water.
Pelvic pain and pressure. The third trimester also brought some pelvic discomfort with it! This has gotten worse over the last few weeks especially, unsurprisingly since the baby is dropping lower and lower. I am still wearing my support belt that I wrote about in the second trimester which helps, but I do have moments of ‘lightning crotch’ while running that tend to take my breath away. Sometimes it even feels like straight baby skull on my pubic bone. I noticed that this is a lot worse if I run in the afternoon after I’ve been up and on my feet all day. I feel SO much better running first thing in the morning, with hardly any discomfort at all. So obviously, I’ve been choosing to do that lately!
Right side issues. I was hoping to avoid this issue this time around, and I did for a while- but it snuck in around week 32. Just like with Kevin’s pregnancy, the right side of my body must be where baby loves to hang out. It started with the varicose veins behind my knee on my right side which I mentioned in my second trimester post. I don’t feel these often but they are uncomfortable occasionally. Now when I run sometimes my right leg feels numb, weak and tingly- just like last time. I’ve also noticed tightness in my right hip. I’ve been going to the chiropractor which helps tremendously! He said the baby is sitting on nerves and positioned in a way that is causing these issues, and his adjustments help correct that. I have noticed that this happens more when I run on hills, so I have been trying to stick to flatter routes when possible.
Relaxing ligaments and joints. In the third trimester, the body starts to release a hormone called relaxin which relaxes the ligaments and joints to help prepare your body to give birth. This can lead to clumsiness and feeling “loose” on your feet. I have definitely noticed this affecting my running a bit. I have to be super aware and careful to keep my feet on even ground or else my ankle will roll easily. I also feel looser in my hips. I’ve had some foot pain along my arch because those ligaments relax as well. This is why some people say their feet ‘grow’ during pregnancy, because they’re really flattening out some. The combination of my high arches, being on my feet a lot and the relaxin was causing plantar fasciitis type pain, but I was thankfully able to fix it by getting some supportive inserts for my shoes to counteract it.
Even more bathroom breaks/leakage. Yeah, there’s just no way around this one in the third trimester. I have to go to the bathroom multiple times to squeeze every last bit of pee out before I go for a run, and even then I usually finish needing to go again immediately. This sometimes results in leakage that I can’t control. Fun stuff!!! LOL 🙂
Still racing for fun. In the third trimester I was able to run 2 more races, the Ukrop Monument 10K and the Stafford Hospital 5K. I had a blast at both races and did better than expected. I LOVE racing, whether I’m going for a new PR or just out there to have fun. Depending on when this baby comes, I may be able to squeeze one more race in during this pregnancy, but if not that is totally fine. I’ve had a great experience at all 8 of the races I’ve done and I’ll never forget them!
Still appreciating every run. I am so happy and appreciative to be almost 38 weeks pregnant and still going strong with my running. Every time I go out to run I know that it could potentially be my last, due to either giving birth or feeling like it’s time to stop. I hope to continue feeling good and remain active through these last couple of days/weeks, and I’ll be making sure to cherish the end of this special time with my newest running buddy.