I repeat myself a lot these days, and one of my common refrains goes something along these lines:
can be is unpredictable.
listen to your body.
take things a day at a time.
Soon enough, I’ll only have one hand’s worth of weeks left in this pregnancy, in theory — though of course, we know that due dates are more like glorified “guess dates,” since they’re +/- 2 weeks — and it’s around this time in my first pregnancy when I stopped running.
Strolling down memory lane for a second, in no small part due to the fact that I’m apparently nesting like crazy (and hey, that’s a good thing), thanks to some old-school running log books I found and some old blog posts I had written way back in the day, I (eventually) remembered that I ceased running around the 35/36 week mark of my almost 41-week pregnancy because of lower SI joint pain. If you don’t know what that is, please let me assure you that it doesn’t feel very nice. Imagine the sensation of what feels like bone-on-bone grinding every time you walk, and running, ha, yea right!, um no way. During my first pregnancy, my final double-digit run was about 10 miles around 29 weeks pregnant. Most of my runs were at 11:xx pace (and through the winter and early spring in Chicago, so throw some nice elemental variation in there … think ice, wind, snow), and surely my mileage wasn’t anything beyond 20 mpw, if I were lucky and reeeeeeeally being a baller.
This time around — and I’ll provide another mileage recap in a few weeks — I’m continuing to surprise myself by still running in the 8s on average, ranging from 8:teens (shorter runs)-high 8s/low 9s (recovery), maaaaybe squeaking in a sub-8 toward the end of my run (and if I’m on a downhill, ha!), and posting volume each week between about 25-40ish miles, depending on my schedule, if I’m “racing” (note the quotes — they’re important), how I’m feeling, what my sleep has been like, all that good stuff.
I’m not documenting this to humble-brag or anything like that; really, I’m not much into that. My point is merely to remind you, dear reader who might be a runner and/or pregnant or thinking about starting/resuming running and/or thinking about getting pregnant, that, once again, pregnancy is freaking unpredictable and its effects on your running are as good as anyone’s guess. You might be able to run until the day you deliver, you might feel so horrible or disinterested that you don’t run a single step for 40ish weeks, or hey, maybe you do a little one week or day but not much the next. You really don’t know how things are going to go or how you’re going to feel, and I’d wager that it’s impossible to guess or to know until you’re in the thick of it. Pregnancy is an incredible metamorphosis; it affects literally every ounce of your being. Very few (if any?) things in life mirror this profoundly-altering process.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (I told you — broken record these days): running or not running during your pregnancy doesn’t make you any “more” or “less” of a runner than you usually are. I firmly believe it all boils down to YOU listening to YOUR body (and your practitioner’s advice) and doing what is right for YOU. It’s not about being a badass or being weak or trying to make a show of your running; you just have to do what’s right for YOU, what feels good for YOU, and what your practitioner says is advisable for, guess who? Yup, YOU! That’s it. Your pregnancy is a bit of an experiment of one, and you, amiga mia, are the lone, singular test subject.
I thought *for sure* that my running during pregnancy dos would mirror my running during pregnancy uno, and it hasn’t: at all. It has been better — faster, higher volume, better “feel,” less perceived exertion, everything. Your guess is as good as mine. I have some theories as to why pregnant running this time around, as opposed to four years ago, has been so much better, but seeing as how I’m a) not a medical professional or b) not a coach, I’ll abstain in the interest of not putting more (possibly) unfounded garbage on the internet. If you want to know, ask.
At any rate, suffice it to say that I am fucking THRILLED that I can still do this stuff more or less as I wish to this far along. It is seriously like an unexpected present, and each day I get to re-open and re-experience this present — being just a little more pregnant than I was the day before, possibly a bit heavier, maybe a bit slower, whatever — it’s just the bee’s knees. To run without expectations while you’re pregnant, and to be SO SURPRISED and to CONTINUE to be SO SURPRISED by being able to continually enjoy the gift — because that’s what it is, kids — that is the ability to run warrants ALL THE CAPS because, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, it’s exhilarating. Fucking exhilarating, people!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Being this far along in my pregnancy, and knowing the experience I had the first time around (related to the SI stuff), I actually feel like I’m getting kinda obnoxiously excited, to the tune of when I start each run, I’m a) excited that I awaken feeling great enough and rarin’ to run; b) I wonder (when I start running) if this will be my final run or one of my final runs during the pregnancy because I never know how I’ll feel once I’m actually out there, so I kinda proceed with caution until I have a good idea of how I’ll fare; and c) by the time I finish the thing, even if the run kinda blew because of XYZ reason, I’m still Cheshirin’ like a damn fool because I JUST RAN X MILES AT X PACE AT X WEEKS PREGNANT, BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (again, all the caps. Told you).
With all of this in mind, then, as though it weren’t blatantly obvious, I’m happy to say that all is well in pregnancy and fetus land, though I’m beginning to wonder where exactly the fetus is going to grow for another 6ish weeks; much like the Bay Area housing market, my uterine rental space is quickly becoming increasingly difficult to secure. As far as measurements and weight gain and all those good variables go, everything is right where it should be (though I feel way bigger this time around than I did during #1), and in terms of the family, we’re all getting more excited with each passing day. A has it in her mind that she’s going to “catch” the baby when it comes out of my belly, and oh, by the way, she’s still pretty convinced that she’s going to be a big sister to a baby brother, who’s a girl, who’s named Aurora (the baby in her belly) or TinkerBell (the baby in my belly). Let that one sink in for a second … Oh, and on the subject of the baby’s sex, it has been almost unanimous — almost, in the sense of all but one single person over the past ~34 weeks has told me — that I’m having a boy, based on some cockamamie notion or another. Here’s the funny thing, though; that was my experience while pregnant with A as well. Just saying (though nope, I have no idea either)…
Anyway, my plan for the remainder of my pregnancy is to continue that which I’ve been doing for the past ~34 weeks — to listen to my body. If all’s well, I’ll continue to run, I’ll “race” the San Francisco Marathon’s 5k race here in a couple weeks (at about 36 weeks and change) and see lots of TSFM buddies over the course of the weekend (and Chicago Erin, who’s coming back this year to run one of TSFM races!), and no doubt I’ll continue to finish each run with that ridic Cheshire shit-eating grin.
Much like during any training cycle, being flexible is critical, and this is
especially even more true when you’re running while pregnant. That’s my MO — take things a day at a time and listen to my body. That’s really all I can do, so that’s all I’m gonna do; it’s really that straightforward.