Thursday, February 23, 2012

Running While Pregnant: The Last Four Tips

Here are your last 4 pregnant running pointers, for a grand total of 10. Your first 6 tips can be found here and here.

7) Snacks. I'm not even kidding, if whether it's half a mile or 5 miles, when you're running pregnant, you have to bring a snack along for the ride. We're not talking a turkey dinner here, just enough to save your soul, heart, and sanity, if you get one of those all-of-the-sudden blood sugar drops. A teeny thing of fruit snacks, some hard candies, a $5 footlong. Anything's fine, as long as it's something.

8) Support. I know it's goofy, but definitely consider wearing a belly support like this one:

Ridiculous? Absolutely.

I found that one, and the picture, here. If you wear some support, your lower back will love you for it.

9) Learn. Running during a pregnancy is a great time to learn the ins and outs of childbirth and parenthood. I downloaded all kinds of podcasts to listen to during my runs. Distracting and informational--win, win, win.

Before I list a few, remember, if you plan to listen to music while you're running pregnant, turn the volume down low enough that you can hear oncoming traffic, and only wear one earbud.

Okay, here we go:

10) Enjoy. If you're running while you're pregnant, just enjoy it. You're doing something awesome for your own health, and for the health of your baby. Slow down, sniff flowers, and pet puppies. This is a time for basking in your own awesomeness--because most pregnant moms are sitting in their closets eating candy. But you? You're running and sitting in your closet eating candy.

Go get 'em!

Tips from Vanessa

Seriously now. Who doesn't want to be quoted talking about their boobs?

Also, here's a tip from me: If you're a postpartum mom trying to get back in shape, make sure you wear some sort of a belly slimmer when you exercise. Like this one, or this one. You can usually pick them up at TJ Maxx for $5-$10.

Will it make you look all supermodelish like the box says? Probably not. These belly slimmers come equipped with all sorts of promises and gimmicks.

But I promise it does have some definite benefits. First, it will support your low back, which might be pretty shot from pregnancy. Second, it will make you sweat like a pig, which isn't a bad thing when you're exercising. And third, it will help bring your abs back together after being separated during pregnancy. If you tone your abs with the giant gap in between, the gap will want to stay. But if you pull the abs together, they'll tone up with a more pre-pregnancy shape.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Meet Vanessa

Since we're on the topic of pregnancy, everyone meet Vanessa. Isn't she cute like a friggen little button?

But hold on. As if this girl wasn't adorable enough on her own, she has a perfect little southern accent and this baby:

That's Willie, and these days he's 8 weeks old. He's a good little sleeper and the kid loves to eat. Like most new moms, Vanessa is feeling anxious to get the old body back, so we're teaming up!

Here are some pregnant Vanessa pictures:
19 weeks, hiking a mountain
37 weeks, showing off her abs
41 weeks, about to go through 40,000 hours of labor

And here she is now. Possibly looking way better than I do, 118 weeks post partum:
Her very favorite date dress
She was like, "Here, take a pic of my muffin top!" You know what? That's a mini-muffin top.
Vanessa's goal is to zip the dress, button the pants, and tone up the post-baby looseness. We'll track her progress on the blog and keep you posted on her new-mom-friendly workouts. Goooooooooooooo Vanessa!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Running While Pregnant: Three More Tips

4. Calling it Quits. When it comes to pregnant runners, some women, like my OB, pretty much jog into the hospital, time their contractions with a Garmin, and pop out a baby with some Adidas on their feet. Other women, like me, call it quits way before they deliver the baby. I made it to 30 weeks during my pregnancy with Maggie.

Moms-to-be hang up their shoes for all kinds of reasons (pants peeing, straight up tiredness, aches and pains, can no longer wiggle into spandex, etc), and any of those reasons are fine. If you feel like stopping, stop. Pregnancy is unpredictable, so telling yourself, "I'll run until I'm 37 weeks!" when you're 6 along weeks is totally unfair to you. Play it by ear. You're not running against anyone else.

I stopped for 2 reasons. First, I was getting ginormously huge and my shorts were turning into something like a strange scene out of a niche-porn movie. And second, I had a wicked case of public symphisis diastisis that honestly left me feeling like I was stabbed after every run. Not worth it in my book.

5. Avoid Injuries. When you're running pregnant, you're a lot more susceptible to sprain and strain injuries. The extra relaxin pumping through your body loosens up the ligaments and leaves you a lot more likely to mess up a joint. Be sure you really watch your footing, run on even surfaces (like well maintained roads, or the treadmill), and avoid gnarly trails all together.

6. Be Safe. As a pregnant runner, always always always carry a cell phone. I don't care if you're running half a mile out and half a mile back, carry your cell phone. If you're running, have a cell phone on you. Oh, and make sure you carry your cell phone. You never know when you might tweak a joint, or feel a little light headed, or just want to go to McDonalds for one of those hot fudge sundaes immediately. You'll  definitely need a cell phone to address any of those situations. So carry your cell phone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Running While Pregnant: Three Tips

I have another blog. It's an old, trusty blog that I barely ever write on any more. I love that thing and I seriously hope to get back to it soon...or someday. But probably someday soon. It's like an old friend I really need to call.

Believe it or not, that good old friend still gets me a $25ish check every month from BlogHer. Not because I'm updating anything, but mostly because of this post:

People seem to google into that post a lot--probably while they're looking for legitimate info on running while pregnant. Clearly, there's a shortage of good information on this topic they're trying to squeeze any amount of info out of that post.

So today, now that I'm all certified as a coach and a trainer*, I've decided to try to put something a little more useful out there. Over the next few days, I'm giving you Ten Tips for Running While Pregnant. Today, we'll start with the first three:

1. Heart Rate. If you've looked into this topic at all, then you know the magic number. It's 140. The rule is, don't let your heart rate go above 140 beats per minute when you're doing any kind of knocked-up exercising. I don't disagree with this, but I don't know a whole lot of pregnant women are a) wearing heart rate monitors, or b) stopping to count their heart rate.

I mean seriously, not stopping to pee or eat a donut or cry at the beauty of a baby bird while you're running pregnant is quite enough to handle. How are you supposed to count your heart rate, too?

While we all know that counting your heart rate is best, there's a second-best option for monitoring your exertion--and it's pretty good. If you're running while pregnant, you should run at a conversational pace. In other words, you should be able to hold a conversation without much huffing and puffing for the course of your entire run.

If you run with a friend, great! Chat her ear off to keep tabs on how hard you're pushing it. If you're running solo, sing the alphabet every half-mile or so. You should be able to sing it without gasping for air. If you can't sing or hold a conversation, slow down and rest until you can. Pregnancy is not the time for speed work or tempo runs--pregnancy is the time to keep your body fit and try not to gain 900 pounds. Got it?

2. Maintenance. Speaking of that, pregnancy isn't the time to try a new fitness regime. If you're not a runner, don't start now. If you're not a cyclist, don't start now. And if you're not already an Olympic level gymnast, now's not the time to follow that dream. Now's the time to grow a baby.

If you're already a runner, great! But remember, this applies to you, too. This isn't the time to reduce body fat, or run a faster mile, or try for your first half marathon. All you're trying to do is enjoy some exercise, keep your body fit, and not go crazy. Tone your running down by a notch, and keep toning it down every month.

3. A Plan. And since we're on the topic of toning it down, women usually want to know exactly what I mean by toning it down. Toning it down is different for everyone, but one thing I like to suggest for moms who can already run a 5k, is to take the Couch to 5k plan and run it in reverse order.

Start with week 9, and as your pregnancy progresses, work backwards week by week. You don't have to follow the schedule exactly, but drop back a week when you feel like your current workout is getting to be too much.

With Maggie, I ran week 9 for the first 15ish weeks. Then I started dropping it back until I hung up the shoes at week 30. And speaking of hanging up the shoes....

(to be continued)

*Remember, I'm just a coach and trainer--NOT a doctor. Any exercise you do while you're pregnant, and anything you read on this blog about running pregnant, should be discussed with your doctor or midwife.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Stop the Madness

When it comes to coaching, I'm all about moderation. When it come to my own running, I'm not so good.

Tonight I popped a caffeine pill, walked away from the Super Bowl, and got on my treadmill with a Coke in my hand. No, seriously, a Coca Cola Classic. On the treadmill. And I flipped on that Sarah Jessica Parker movie about haggard working mothers.

Come on now, who does that?

You know who does that? Me. An overextended mom, wife, employee, and business owner who's training for a marathon.

If I was outside my life looking in, I'd be all, "Ummm, cool it? Because that's too much? And you might have a nervous breakdown?"

So guess what? I'm cooling it. Before tonight, I had 2 running goals for 2012: set a PR in the marathon (my PR is from 2007), and place in the top 3 in the Mountain Epic (I won last year). Running-wise, both make total and complete sense. But you know what? I'm not in the mood for marathon number 6.

I think I could do it, and I actually think I could do it well (I've been doing every-other-week 11-13 mile training runs at my target marathon pace), but I think my head could potentially explode from so many big things happening at the same time.

So here's how it's going down instead:
  • Between momming, wifeing, working, training, and running Kennebec Valley Coaching, something's on it's way out. And I can assure you that I'm not leaving my kids at the supermarket a la Punky Brewster's mother.
  • I'm running the Airport Challenge in Brunswick in April--a 1 mile race (my FAVORITE!), and a half marathon in the same morning. Blam, blam, so awesome.
  • Instead of the Sugarloaf Marathon, I'm running the Sugarloaf 15k. I haven't set a time goal yet. 
  • Run a really good time at the 4th of July 5k.
  • And then I'll run every 5k I feel like running, and train my pants off for the Mountain Epic because holy nuts, I love that race.
To me, that's a fun racing schedule. I can train hard, I can cross-train hard (because I love plyo as much as I love running), and I can do it all with a whole lot less mileage every week.

I came up with this plan at mile 3 of my long run tonight. James wandered downstairs in his football pajamas and said, "Hey Mom, I can't sleep. Wanna watch the Super Bowl game with me?"

You bet I did.

Treadmill off. Decision made. Shorter races. Sanity restored. Major phew.

Go Patriots!