Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What every running, pregnant momma should own (from my experience)

As a sports dietitian at 28 weeks pregnant with her second child, I have had plenty of time to practice running with a baby on board. While slightly intimidating at first, I actually found it to be an easier feat than expected. While not every woman's body cooperates with continued running into pregnancy, there are a few key items that make the process SIGNIFICANTLY easier. Assuming you have the okay from your doctor to run while pregnant, these must-haves are a few of my favorites:

1. A belly support band
I could not do any type of exercise in mid to late pregnancy without this miracle (running or otherwise). There are lots of brands out there to choose from. I personally chose one that had 3 separate Velcro adjustments so I can easily make it fit best as my belly grows (here it is). Toward the end of my first pregnancy, I started wearing the band all the time (not just during exercise) to decrease lower back pain; I anticipate I will do this again.

2. A good foam roller or similar
Running with the extra weight can be tough on your leg muscles. Having a great way to massage those muscles is key. Can't afford a weekly massage? (me either) A foam roller or what is known as "The Stick" work fabulously in its place. Many athletes also like Trigger Point; I find this too painful personally. The point is to use whatever method you prefer to roll out your muscles. It helps keep them loose to prevent cramping and pain before, during and after running.

3. A running/jogging stroller

If you are planning to run during a 2nd, 3rd, etc. pregnancy, chances are the older kiddos will have to come along at some point. Because of my crazy schedule, the only times I can run have to include my daughter and of course my dog. That means the jogging stroller comes with me on every run. In fact, running without the stroller feels odd to me now. While I imagine an uber-expensive stroller would be easier (think The Bob brand, etc.), I actually still own just a basic entry level jogging stroller. As you can see from the picture, it - gasp - even has a stationary front wheel (I consider this weight training when I have to make turns). Whatever stroller brand you choose, don't be afraid to continue using it into pregnancy. You might be surprised how easy it still is. Plus, it makes finding time to run easier too.

4. Good music
This might be obvious, but good music makes a huge difference for a running prego. I personally make sure I always play music because my daughter enjoys singing and kicking her legs along to the music on our runs. It is a great way to keep her entertained. While I could take the time to download music onto my phone, I simplify the process and just use the Pandora app. It is easy to put on Disney favorites and let her jam the entire run. I store the phone securely in the stroller itself - loud enough for me to hear, but quiet enough that it doesn't cause long-term hearing damage to her.

5. A sense of humor
No matter how you prepare, realize that running pregnant is not going to be anything similar to running not pregnant. You won't set any PRs; you won't hit the same mile repeat times; you won't tackle the hills like you used to. Be kind to yourself and don't be afraid to take it easy. I just ran a 5K a full 7 1/2 minutes slower than my 5K PR not pregnant, and that's okay with me (see pic from that day on left). Readjust your standards because - hey - just keeping up any level of exercise while juggling pregnancy (and other kiddos too) is a pretty big accomplishment. Take comfort in the fact that you will soon enough be back to your old race times and barely remember what it was like to run pregnant. Well...maybe.

Be Extraordinary,


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