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Running during pregnancy: the second trimester

wjr-running-when-pregnant-second-trimesterI shared my first trimester running experience with you and since then, things have moved right along. I’m now 25 weeks pregnant and still running well. I know I’m extremely lucky to be in this position – not every woman is able to run this far along whether it’s due to health complications or discomfort.

Here’s my second trimester running experience in a nutshell:

  • The second trimester is the running sweet spot. Heck, it’s the pregnancy sweet spot. Most pregnant women have left morning sickness behind in the first trimester, and third trimester complaints – like back pain — are yet to happen. Because of this, I’d argue that the second tri is the best time to race (I was lucky enough to run a half marathon at 17 weeks and felt great). By the time I reached the second trimester, I was used to my new, slower pace – and the fact that it takes so long to warm-up – and running has been mostly a positive experience since then.

On some runs, I honestly forget that I’m pregnant.  I’ve had glimpses of my former running self and am able to push the pace sometimes. I’m running nowhere near my old paces, but I managed a 24:15 5k a few weeks ago. Sure, it’s a good 3 minutes off my PR but I felt like I was flying.

  • …However things start to get uncomfortable. I started experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions – “practice” contractions – a few weeks ago. My midwife explained that they’re harmless, but she wants me to take it easy on days I experience them. Which means — you guessed it — no running. Luckily Braxton Hicks have only affected me at night and haven’t stopped me from running yet, but I feel like a ticking time bomb.

I’m also lugging around an extra 17-18 lbs. which does not make running easy. Running up hills is extra challenging and I almost always need walk breaks. And I’m not one of those women who’s “all belly”. My lower half had grown too, so let’s just say I’m thankful for BodyGlide. Plus, my feet are sore at the end of each run. I remember this side effect from my first pregnancy and know that it will only get worse as I gain more weight.

  • Luckily, there are ways to alleviate discomforts. My painful feet haven’t been a huge issue – thanks to a husband who is willing to give me nightly foot rubs! Other pregnant runners start to suffer from back, pelvic, or hip pain in the second trimester. Wearing a maternity support belt on runs, like this popular model, helps some women avoid these running-related pains. Also yoga, stretching, foam-rolling, and applying ice packs can help alleviate soreness too – just as it can for runners who aren’t pregnant.
  • The second trimester is a great time to set postpartum running goals. The last time I raced all out was the 4th of July – six long months ago. Nothing motivates me to race more than a long hiatus. I’ve chatted with several other pregnant runner friends, and most of us have the race bug by this point in our pregnancies — making the second trimester the perfect time to set postpartum racing goals. I have guaranteed entry into the New York City marathon next year and I’m eyeing some local fall halves as well. I cannot wait to run fast again!

What was your second trimester running experience like? Do you agree that it’s the running sweet spot of pregnancy? 

Written by Jen Matz.

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