Running while pregnant: A break from running?

When I asked an acquainted mother runner at what stage she stopped running during her pregnancy and why, she told me after 6.5 months, “because it got very uncomfortable.” I thought she referred to the pressure on her bladder (which I already experienced after 4.5 months) and her expanding waistline, and didn’t ask further.

Now that I am in the last stage of my pregnancy I know that there is much more that makes going for a jog challenging at times, nearly impossible at other. True, there is the ever-present pressure-on-the-bladder problem, but that is easily solved here in New Zealand, with public toilets available everywhere you go. The growing tummy and extra weight do not really bother me, though I am certainly getting bigger and bigger and out of breath more easily.

Runing along Waikato River remains a favourite (not in the last place because public toilets are found nearly everywhere!)

Running along Waikato River remains a favourite (not in the last place because public toilets are found nearly everywhere!)

What often makes running uncomfortable these days is the pelvic girdle pain about which I wrote last week, but (to a lesser extent) also the Braxton Hick contractions I get when exercising, ligament pain, the urge to go to the toilet (and sometimes not just to wee!), and a general feeling of discomfort. Sounds fun, eh?

The thing is, some days I feel great when I am jogging, and I believe I can continue working out until the day of labor, while other times I feel like an old, physically disabled person the hours following a run.

31 weeks pregnant!

31 weeks pregnant!

Despite the increasing pain in my pelvis and my determination to “take a break” from running last week, week 31 started with a 5-km fun run at Waikato University that Ahmed and I planned to attend. Knowing myself (and Ahmed as well), a fun run is never just “fun” but taken dead seriously. I knew Ahmed would try to run as fast as he could, and though I promised myself to take it easy it did end up being a tempo run (pace: 4.53 min/km) that left me slightly disabled for the remainder of the evening.

5-km "fun run" at the University of Waikato

5-km “fun run” at the University of Waikato (Either GPS was a bit off, or the run was actually slightly less than 5 km.)

Two days later, I couldn’t resist another run, but although it was a very slow one this time it left me feel the same – in pain, that is. That’s when I decided I couldn’t continue like this and said goodbye to running, at least for the following days. Instead, I went for several power walks, which – to my own surprise – I enjoyed very much and actually made different muscles in my legs work. I even felt slightly sore the day after the first walk!

Going for my first power walk

Going for my first power walk

My first power walk took me to Hamilton Gardens, where I enjoyed a picnic and took lots of photos, and back.

My first power walk took me to Hamilton Gardens, where I enjoyed a picnic and took lots of photos, and back.

Towards the end of the week, while I was doing another power walk, I felt so good that my walk slowly transformed into a jog, which I continued for 1 kilometer. Truly, running just feels so much more natural to me than walking! After that, I walked for 1 kilometer, and I repeated this several times.

So far, this “walk-jog” has been the best solution for me, and it is what I have been doing since the end of week 31. I go out for a walk, and if I feel good I do some jogging as well, but not for a long time. I like to do 1-km-walking-1-km-jogging repeats, or  5-minutes-walking-5-minutes-jogging repeats. It is enough to make me feel like I did a proper workout without leaving me exhausted or like a cripple.

Waikato River

Waikato River

Funny enough, this has worked so well that during this week, I ended up walking and jogging more than I could the previous week! This is what my workouts looked like:

Week 31

Monday: 3.46 km (warm up) + 4.85 (tempo run)

Wednesday: 8.27 km (relaxed run)

Thursday: 4.07 km + 3.92 km (power walk)

Saturday: 7.88 km (power walk)

Sunday: 6.06 km (walk-jog)

Total: 38.5 km (22.6 km jogging + 15.9 km walking)

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