While I knew that running would change during pregnancy, I was in no way prepared for how quickly it happened after receiving a positive pregnancy test. Running in the first trimester was an experience in learning how to not only listen to my body but also trust it.
While I’m well into my second trimester now, I’ve had this post bouncing around in my head for months and I just feel like I have to get it out. The first trimester is such a weird time where very few people know you’re expecting and you’re experiencing all sorts of physical and emotional symptoms. This can be especially overwhelming if you’re a first time mom and questioning everything.
5 Things I Learned About Running In The First Trimester
(running in Florida at 7 weeks)
1. I had to stop…a lot!
It seemed like I couldn’t even get through an easy 3-4 mile run without stopping fewer than five times. I would mentally tell myself I’d get to a certain time or mileage and then stop on the side of the trail/road and stand there for a minute trying to get it together. Granted I did get my positive pregnancy test in the middle of August when it was crazy hot in North Carolina but I typically don’t mind summer running. This was a whole new ballgame!
2. ALLLLLL the peeing. So much peeing.
Hands-down THE most challenging part of running while pregnant has been the need to pee. I couldn’t believe how early it started. I met a friend for a run at 5 weeks and had to dash off in a park to a bathroom to pee. I thought that was weird that it was happening so early but that was just the start of it.
There was one time I peed twice before I left for a run and was still desperate enough to use this Sani-Can in the front yard of someone’s house in a neighborhood I was running through.
There was another time that I peed THREE TIMES before leaving for a run and then had to stop not even a half a mile in to pee again at Krispy Kreme.
There has been some relief in the second trimester as baby has moved up a bit but I swear this has been the most challenging part of pregnant running for me. And no other workout makes me have to pee like running does. It’s crazy!
(6.5 miles at a 9:13 pace at 8 weeks)
3. My pace varied greatly and so did the intensity of my runs.
For the most part, my pace seemed to instantly drop by anywhere from 30-60 seconds from my normal mile times. I’d feel like I was putting in so much effort and moving pretty fast and then look down at my watch and see that I was running a 9:30. This was definitely humbling and I kept most of my runs easy/casual for this reason. I had to really give myself a big pass on pace and run by feel instead. Sometimes my body would surprise me and I’d knock out a strong, fast run or I’d feel like doing some speed work.
(a long run at 6 weeks)
4. It was okay to continue long runs.
I was casually training for the Charlotte Half Marathon when I found out I was pregnant. One of the first questions I asked my doctor was if it was okay for me to continue to do longer runs (like 8-9 miles) and he said yes.
I can’t even describe to you adequately how those first few long runs felt knowing that I was growing a tiny baby inside of me. I was so in awe of my body and I felt so connected to it. I spent a lot of time on those early runs listening to tons of podcasts about pregnancy and learning about the first trimester.
(6 miles at 5 weeks pregnant)
5. Just like always, it was “run therapy” in every sense of the word.
I have written so many times before about how much running benefits me emotionally and pregnancy has been no exception. I struggled with a LOT of anxiety in the first trimester and running was one of the things that helped me process my emotions and stay connected to my body.
First, I went in for a pregnancy check appointment right at 6 weeks and while my doctor could see the sac, he couldn’t detect a heartbeat and asked me to come back in 10 days for a viability scan. He told me honestly that the chance of miscarriage was 25% but that he was “cautiously optimistic.” I remember coming home and spending hours googling everything under the sun before finally going out for a run. I just needed some sort of release for all the anxiety I was feeling and to feel “in” my body.
Second, I was diagnosed with a small subchorionic hemorrhage at my 8 week viability ultrasound. I was so happy to see that heartbeat but then learning that I had that complication sent me into another spiral of over-googling and over-worrying. I asked my doctor if I should stop running or scale back on my workouts to which he replied that there was no concrete evidence one way or the other that activity restriction would prevent miscarriage with SCH. He advised me to keep doing what I was doing unless it would just make me feel better to cut back until my next scan.
I drove myself crazy researching miscarriage stats and information and read so many forums about girls who quit running and exercising in early pregnancy in hopes of preventing miscarriage. Ultimately, I decided to keep running and I’m so glad that I did. I think the positive impact it had on my ability to better deal with the fear and uncertainty I was feeling was a greater benefit to the baby than my ceasing to run and workout would have been.
And on a happier note, as I mentioned in #3 above, running in my first trimester really connected me to my body and to the baby. It may sound crazy but I would put my hand on my belly and talk to the baby a lot when I was running. I would tell it how much it was wanted, encourage it to please stay with me and tell it how much I loved it.
WHERE I AM NOW
I’m currently just shy of 24 weeks and still running and still feeling good! I have been sick for the last month so I haven’t able to run as much as I’d like but I hope to run for as long as possible during this pregnancy. It’s been such a gift…minus all the peeing! 🙂
What was running like for you in the first trimester? How soon/early did you feel the effects of pregnancy on your running?
For anyone who comes across this in your first trimester, please feel free to ask me any questions you might have. I’m an open book!