I’ve been absent for a bit, and I apologize. Food just isn’t doing it for me these days… not like it used to. It will again, and I actually have a few great recipes in the queue to share with you, but I’ve been suffering from the dreaded writer’s block (aka lack of motivation). Someone wise once told me that if I couldn’t get motivated to write, I should just write about what I’m excited about or invested in at the time, so I’m going to do just that, and hope that it gets the creative juices flowing again.
So, all of that is a rather roundabout way of saying that this post has nothing to do with food. Instead, it’s a digression into my running life, which I haven’t really talked about much since my latest round of marathon training.
How’s it going? Well, I’m 35 weeks pregnant and still running, and pretty darn proud of that. I ran throughout my pregnancy with Nora, and I aim to do the same thing this time around. It has been much harder this time, though, for a bunch of reasons. First, I already have an active kid to run around after, and I don’t get to sleep as much as I did the first go-round, so I’m starting out from a place of greater exhaustion. Getting up before Nora does in the morning to go running? Yeah, that’s not happening. Second, this pregnancy (as I’m finding is common) has been more difficult than my first. Physically, I just don’t feel as well. It’s hard to want to go for a run when you’re just trying not to puke (hello, first trimester and a part of the second), or when it’s a choice between a sorely-needed nap and a run. I’ve also had a ton of hip issues, and lately I’ve having trouble getting my legs to cooperate — they feel super-heavy after running about a mile, the way they might toward the end of a marathon. (My chiropractor thinks it’s a nerve issue caused by tight muscles, and I’m working the foam roller to try to alleviate it.) Finally, weather has been a significant factor, at least until recently. I lived in Northern California when I was pregnant with Nora. Running through the summer was no big deal. Here, in the land of 100-degree temperatures from May through September (not to mention insane humidity), it is a big deal, even when one isn’t carrying an extra little heater with one at all times. So, to put it mildly, the heat has made it difficult. Thank goodness for fall, which is finally — finally — here.
But why am I still running? I get asked this question a lot, and I ask it of myself constantly. When it comes right down to it, I’m stubborn. I don’t want to quit running, because I like it, it makes me feel good, and I don’t want to have to start back up from scratch after recovering from pregnancy and birth. I’m worried that I just wouldn’t do it, since there are too many factors pushing against it — sleep deprivation with a newborn, the pressures or everyday life and being able to find rhythm that includes time for running — and that would be sad, because I love being a runner. Running is “me” time, and I need that in my life. And, running is good for me and good for the baby I’m growing. Regular exercise during pregnancy helps build a stronger placenta, may make for an easier labor, and tends to produce, leaner, healthier newborns. And, just recently, a study found a link between exercise during pregnancy and smarter babies. So I feel good about that.
Am I running a lot? No. I try to get out twice a week, and sometimes that doesn’t happen. I also try to do a lot of walking, and I ride my bike (inside on a trainer), both of which are more comfortable for me now. I’m also really slow. Like, about two minutes a mile slower than my pre-pregnancy pace, on a good day. And I rarely crack 3 miles nowadays — in fact, sometimes I don’t even crack 2. I enjoy it sometimes — the other day I had a spectacular 2-mile run in the rain just as a cold front was coming in, during which I felt great — but more often, I’m just trudging through. It’s a means to an end now, and I’m in the home stretch.
If you’re interested in reading more about running and exercise during pregnancy, I highly recommend the book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy (though it looks old-school, the information is still entirely current) and The Runner’s World Guide to Running and Pregnancy. I also have to put in a good word for the maternity workout gear available on fitmaternity.com, and, if you’re planning to run during pregnancy, I personally could not have survived this far without the Gabrialla maternity support belt — it’s a lifesaver in the late second and third trimesters, and I swear no one can tell you’re wearing it under clothes. Happy running, everyone!