Saturday, August 1, 2015

Running: The First 20 Weeks

I've reached the half-way mark of this pregnancy. Sometimes it feels like it's moving along at a good pace, other times it feels super slow, and then I realize that in no time at all there will be a little human to care for and my life will change in ways I can't even imagine right now.

I'm running anywhere from 3-7 miles a day, 5 days a week. I'd run more if I could go longer without needing a bathroom. Sometimes I wish I was in DC: It would be easier to stop there, but there aren't places around here that I can sneak into without being noticed. I don't want to become "that pregnant lady that always stops to use our bathroom" so I suffer wait until I get home.

I like to hit at least 20 miles a week, but it feels like we have been busier here than in DC, so some days it is just impossible to get a run in or the rain keeps me away. I'm not training for anything so I can totally take a day off due to rain now! This will be the only time in my life that I'll allow myself to do that.

I've put on roughly 670 miles this pregnancy, which averages out to 33.5 miles a week. I ran higher mileage in the beginning (40/50-something mile weeks) while finishing the training for Boston, but have been staying stead at around 20 miles a week for the last month.

Right before a run - 18 weeks

I'm not sure how long I'll continue to run. Ideally, I'd like to run as long as I can, including up to the due date, but I'm speaking as someone who has never been through this and someone who is a lot skinnier now than I will be in a few months.  Each week seems to become a little bit more difficult than the last. I need more air when running (or even walking) up hills, which are EVERYWHERE around our new place, so the pace has been pretty slow.

And I mean way slow. I'm really happy if I can hit a pace that's 1.5 minutes slower than my easy pace days from training this spring. I am much easier on myself than I was a few months ago, especially as I get bigger and further along into this pregnancy. Last Thursday I took a run without my watch (because I couldn't find it!) and had the most amazing, relaxing time. I ran to truly run. I wasn't looking down and seeing slow splits. As a result, I decided that I would briefly take a pit stop at home around 4.5 miles before tacking on another 2.5 miles. That was the longest run I had done in over a month and it felt amazing.

I vowed that I wouldn't touch a watch again for the next five months, and then I found my Garmin! Oh great, you're thinking, just what I need. Actually, it was nice to have it on a few runs to see that I wasn't going as slow as I thought! It was also nice to see that yes - hills do kill me (10 minutes/mile pace), but if I'm going downhill I can get back to 7:30/8:00 pace without even trying. Together - the watchless runs and the Garmin splits have helped to boost my confidence in running again. I'm not trying to win any races (or run in any) but I'm just trying to maintain some fitness as long as I can.

Side note: I stopped to think about why it is that I have trouble running, besides the obvious. It's the breathing, the inability to feel like I can fully put forth an full effort, the more time on my foot for each landing due to my slower pace, the hills, eating too soon before going running, forgetting to go to the bathroom - just in case - right before leaving, the traffic that is now inches from me as there are no sidewalks in VT, and the gravel roads that make footing a little trickier. My mind is always "on" now while I'm running, as opposed to being able to float freely through the run. There are also a lot of unknowns that go through my head on each run. How long can I keep running? What is it going to feel like when I return? When will I be able to race again? How soon is too soon to run a marathon? etc, etc.

Besides running, every week I take 1-2 days to do yoga at home. I went to a class a few weeks back with other moms-to-be but decided that I should wait a little while before rejoining. Talk about intimidating to be sitting next to someone that is due in 5 days! I was by far the least furthest along that night. Fortunately, a month later, I am in the new wave of moms and am not the least furthest along. In no time at all I'll be that mom saying that I'm due in 5 days. Scaryyyyyy!

I also like to get in some strength training for the legs, but have to admit that I have totally slacked on upper body strength. I basically stopped all crunches and core work the minute I found out I was pregnant because 1) I was in taper time for Boston and 2)tend to think those aren't as necessary anymore if the point of your stomach is now to expand. It's ironic that I got pregnant when I did because for the first time in my life I had achieved real abs. That's how the cookie crumbles, isn't it? Those abs will come back post baby, as long as I can keep away from those crumbling cookies.

The only time I'll let Tom take a photo like this - a tiny bump at 17 weeks

Speaking of cookies and food, one main focus of mine during pregnancy is gaining enough weight. I don't restrict myself to any desserts, and have greatly cut my mileage in order to gain weight. What is important for people to know is that I run because I absolutely love the feeling that it brings. I have never run to lose weight. I put that out there because some people tend to believe that is why all runners run, but most runners out there know otherwise. I sometimes feel bad telling the doctors that I'm still running, but I can't imagine what would happen to my body if I stopped. I've been running for over 14 years and it's such a natural part to my daily routine. Exercise in pregnancy is recommended, but I have to make sure I'm gaining enough weight in the meantime. Bring on the chocolate milkshakes!

That's how the running life is going now. This coming week we will find out if it is a boy or girl and then I feel like we can begin to really plan for this baby. It's crazy to think that as that milestone is reached it also means that summer is very quickly coming to a close and school will start up again. I will be teaching high school this fall and look forward to getting back into the classroom and trying something new. Unfortunately, I won't be coaching, which is probably the thing making me most sad about starting at a new school.

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