The Humbled Pregnant Runner

I’ve never NOT been a runner. From high school cross country to training for various 10ks and half-marathons in my post-grad years, running was ingrained in every part of my life. I stopped at nothing.

And I mean nothing.

Blizzard? Bundle up and run. Hurricane day? Better get out there before the winds get too bad. Lightning in the area? Find the nearest treadmill! I didn’t do excuses, so when I found out I was expecting my daughter, Avery, I had absolutely no reason to think I wouldn’t be the 9-month pregnant woman collecting a half-marathon medal on her due date.

Not so fast.

My first few months were great. Yes, my pace slowed, but I was out there, happily logging miles while daydreaming about my daughter’s nursery. Was I proud of myself? Of course! Cocky? A little. If I was growing a tiny human while easily running 35 miles per week, what couldn’t I do?

Maybe I pushed too hard (what runner doesn’t?). Maybe my body finally realized it was MAKING A PERSON and needed to slow down. It started with my foot. Then my lower back. The pregnancy hormones, the loosening joints and the baby’s positioning made running a nightmare. I couldn’t take more than five steps without pain. So, what did this runner do? I ran, of course. And yes, it got worse. Turns out, running can fix almost anything, but not this.

I went to a chiropractor, got massages, stretched, and foam rolled. I researched, talked to fellow runners, read blogs, and learned everything I possibly could about pregnancy and running. I did what any runner would do, and “tried to go for a little run” whenever I started feeling better, inevitably setting me back more.

I finally realized, with the help of my fellow fitness-obsessed—but much wiser—mother, that it was time for a change, at least until Avery is born. No, quitting exercise wasn’t the answer, but switching it up was definitely necessary. So, I made friends with the arc trainer, jumped in a few spin classes, reacquainted myself with strength training, and continued (but modified) my all-time favorite group exercise class, LES MILLS BODYCOMBAT™. Daily 5 a.m. gym sessions with my mom replaced my morning runs. And guess what? Pregnant or not, this is the strongest I’ve ever felt. Not to mention, I got much-needed motherly advice during cardio sessions.

Not only did my regular gym routine help me physically, but it meant I was constantly surrounded by the most supportive people at my local YMCA. There was no judgment when they saw me walk in, belly busting through my workout top. The group exercise instructors were the best of the best, offering intense workouts, along with modifications for a growing baby bump. They gave me the confidence I needed to push myself when I could and to pull back when I needed.

Do I miss the endorphin rush, the training logs, and the gloriously sweaty, leave-it-all-on-the-trail workouts? Of course! But I will be back, but this time I will bring a sense of balance to my training. I will keep up with strength training, modify when needed, and most importantly, I will instill in my daughter a love for running and fitness.

See you at the start line! I’ll be the one with a renewed sense of gratitude for simply putting one foot in front of the other.

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