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.


  1. I'm not a runner, but since you don't write on your other blog, I have to come to this one. I am starting to think about running... hmm maybe but really reading this makes me want to get off my butt


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