I am a Runner. I have been running since late 2013. By 2014, I was running almost every day, sometimes twice a day. In short I love running. I love being active. I was an overweight teen who took up the fitness journey when still in high school. Gym, Jump rope, Cycling, Dancing, Aerobics, Badminton, Swimming, I tried my hand at them all until I started running. And running stuck to me (hopefully for life) like glue, liberated me and made me happy.
Oh yes, I ran through my pregnancy – All 9 months!
Medical Guidelines: Much unlike the common belief, exercising and maintaining a healthy routine is not only permitted during pregnancy, it is also recommended. To quote Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), “Pregnant women who are already active should be encouraged to maintain their physical activity levels. However, they may need to change the type of activity undertaken and adapt their activity throughout their pregnancy”. RCOG recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. One word of caution though, check with a doctor before starting any new routine. Run only if your body is used to running. Pregnancy is not the time to take up a new sport. I read up a lot and reserached a whole lot before I decided to continue running during my pregnancy.
I declare – I am an educated woman and backed my reasons with good amount of science. Do read the link here to understand the relationship between being pregnant and physically active.
Yes, I got a go-ahead from my Gynecologist!
I was very fortunate to be associated with Dr Kaushiki Dwivedee. I had a very low risk pregnancy. She fully supported me and encouraged me throughout my journey. She is one of the new age specialists who understands the importance of being active and needs of a pregnant runner. She helped me with nutrition and kept me in check when I was overburdening myself, also kept a tab on the test results.
Why I decided to run through my pregnancy?
Well, mostly because my body could take it. I must say I am lucky that way. I think it is no short of a miracle that I could run up to the very day I went into labor. Trust me things could have gone south at any point and I was ready to quit when my body gave me the signal. My original plan was to run till the 6th month and then switch over to walking and/or elliptical machine. After the 6th, I started taking one day at a time.
Did I try low impact alternatives?
Of course I did; swimming, spinning, elliptical, walking, tennis, yoga. But, I guess while pregnant, my body was comfortable doing what it was used to AKA, running. How else can I explain that running came easier to me than walking? My tummy started cramping after the first km of walk. Swimming made me breathless and very uncomfortable. I tried yoga for a month and round ligament pain was killing me. I tried hitting some balls on the tennis court, I was moving well, thanks to the runs, but was spent in a measly bout of 15 minutes. Elliptical was all about perceived fatigue – left me short of breath and panting in 10 short minutes. For me running while pregnant was tough but not running was tougher! Running kept me grounded, on my toes, helped reduce anxiety, morning sickness, acid reflux, body aches and elevated my mood.
The day I found out I was going to have a baby, was the eve of my 2 hour stadium run. I was part of a relay team of 6 and no way was I going to back out. I ran 23 km in 2 hours. That was my last long run, last race.
- I did a 14 km a few weeks later but was winded. I decided to keep running but not to race till I am back in form. In the following months, I slowed down my pace, I reduced my mileage gradually.
- I followed my instincts and took cue from my body. And I did research, lots and lots of research on running while pregnant. I found out, that the rule of thumb is not to over exert. So I stuck to it.
- If I can run and talk at the same time I am good to go. If I am so winded that I cannot carry on a conversation while running, I either slow down or stop. I also learnt to differentiate between discomfort and pain. It is uncomfortable to run as your tummy grows and your weight increases but that is different from pain. I stopped the moment I was hurting. My gait changed as my weight increased and my body slowly adjusted to the new routine. Not sure of the science behind it but my otherwise active baby never kicked me while I ran. They say the running cadence lulls the baby to sleep.
How much did I run?
- First 2 trimesters were easy. I ran my usual 70-80 Km a week.
- I also completed Hundred-Days-Of-Running second year in a row. In fact, HDOR kept me going during the last part of my pregnancy, completing 749 km.
- On the day I finished the HDOR, I was on 188th day of my personal run streak. I broke the streak at 204 days. I had my baby 2 days later. 22nd Aug I did a slow 2.5 km, went into labor in the evening and had the baby at the wee hours of the next morning.
- I did 1024 km, 905 km and 471 km in the First, Second and Third Trimester respectively. I had really slowed down and ran mostly indoors in the last month doing not more than 3-4 km per day. In the 3rd trimester the treadmill was my best friend. In total I think I had only 5 run-less days throughout.
- My Strava and Endomondo accounts have all details of my runs. I love to say Baby Zee came preloaded with 1500 miles.
Support: My husband was my biggest support. My friends, relatives, in-laws were surprised by my decision but supported me fully. My husband’s biggest concern was that I was not putting on weight! More fun, I got a running tee and compression shorts from my sis-in-law for my Baby-shower!
Nutrition: It is very important to fuel your run and your baby well. Since I was spending a lot of energy running, I had to up my eating game. It was not easy for my food aversions were greater than cravings. I concentrated on eating healthy, more greens, protein-rich diet. At one point I started tracking my protein intake to make sure I give enough nutrition to the growing baby inside.
I am not a fan of supplements and did not take any during the whole term except for prenatal vitamins. I am also not good with the traditional idea of pregnant ladies stuffing their face with all kinds of unhealthy food, ghee, sweats etc. Eating well is a pre requisite and if you eat junk and added sugar you will land up gaining weight you do not need to put on. I have heard people say putting on 20 -25 kg while pregnant is normal. Or that one cannot help the weight in pregnancy! The baby weighs 3-4 kg, body needs another 8-10 kg to sustain the baby, what is the rest of the 10 kg for? Well, that is food for thought for another rant! Gaining healthy weight in pregnancy is a choice you can make and help yourself.
My Hero: Serena Williams inspires me through and through! I was stunned when she won the Australian open while two months pregnant. Her on-court video of 8 months pregnant, when she could not stop herself from hitting some balls because Wimbledon was on, excited me. I knew I had to keep running if I got pregnant. That’s the least I could do to honor our tribe. I was on the hospital bed and in labor. Doctors said they had to do an emergency C-section due to Meconium stain. I was not excited. I knew it will be tough to get back to running if they cut me open. I was still dealing with the idea. My husband comes to me with his phone and shows me a Video: Chase Bank commercial of Serena. “Mama says Knock ‘em out!” I knew I was ready!
You could read this blog that helped me through my 9 month running journey.
Also you could take a look at the profile of this runner I followed on Social media, who had a son 3 weeks before me.
I delivered a lovely baby girl early morning on the 23rd of Aug, 2018. The nine months came to an end leaving some bitter sweet memories. But that was the start of a new journey of a first time mother.
My after story of running as a new mom will be covered in another blog another time.