Saturday, 3 August 2013

on running in pregnancy

I have written about running a good number of times over the years that I have been blogging. Running is something that I have done since Secondary School, when the 1500 metre race felt like the longest running distance achieveable, and was the race that everyone hated. I always ended up doing it, not knowing that in the years to come I would learn to run for miles and miles. At university I wanted to keep fit in some way but could not afford the extortionate membership fees that my university gym charged, so I ran. I ran because I needed to stretch my legs, to feel the elements, to take care of my body in a way that cost me nothing but provided me with great gain that I had not anticipated.
{view on a run in St David's when I was 6 weeks into pregnancy}

During my running days at university, I found a running buddy at church - the mum of three young children who somehow had enough energy to come running with me before she took her children to school. In running together, we realised that we could run further than we ever thought possible, and so we trained to run half marathons together. I found that as I ran, God would teach me about all kinds of things. He would teach me about my character and my capacity; about His great beauty and the great strength He has put in our bodies. And I realised how much the physical process of running helped me to understand the Biblical principle of running with perseverance.
{Enjoying the sun on a run at 7 weeks}

While my running schedule has ebbed and flowed over the years, it has always served as a sweet form of release for me. Even on those runs that I have hated and struggled through, I know that they have helped me in some way. I have found that the way I feel when I run is often quite a good reflection of the state of my heart, and if things feel hard and sluggish, there is every likelihood that there are things going on in my life that need to be dealt with. Running is the form of exercise that I always come back to, time and again, and get a lot of enjoyment from filling my ears with music and my lungs with air as my feed gain ground in the physical sense, while my heart processes life and gains ground in an emotional and spiritual sense.
{running record over the last 7 months}

I knew from before I was pregnant that, should I ever find myself with child, I wanted to stay fit, for all of the obvious reasons around staying healthy in general, not just in pregnancy, but also to help physically prepare in some small way for the marathon of labour that awaits at the end of 9 months. Sadly, I have not been as disciplined as I would have liked in running throughout pregnancy. I found myself thinking around week 10 that I could have comfortably run the Bristol 10k, had I trained for it, instead of settling for running just a few short miles each time I donned my leggings and trainers.
{Running view at 13 weeks}

But, rather than focusing on what I haven't achieved, I am going to focus on what I have. I haven't managed to run any 10k races, but I have put on my running shoes, and got outside to run. In the first trimester, I was managing to run about twice a week, as well as continuing with the weekly Zumba and Pilates classes that I have been going to for the last 10 months. It has only been since about week 23 of pregnancy that my body has felt significantly different to how it did before. Bouncing along with a baby in utero puts pressure on certain body parts where pressure is not appreciated. Sometimes my muscles and ligaments tighten in a way that I am just not used to, and perhaps this would be resolved by doing more of a warm up, but either way, running has made me feel pregnant in a way that my every day life has not.
{Running at 17 weeks - it started to become a challenge to keep my growing belly out of the photo}

I am now in my 24th week of pregnancy, and while I feel like I have the mental capacity to keep running, I am about to go away for a couple of weeks to a wonderfully hot island, where swimming in the Caribbean will hold far greater appeal than running will. And by the time we come back, my bump will be that much bigger, so I might just have to call a rain check on running for the rest of this pregnancy. And if that's the case? I will be ok with that, and I will swim instead and think of Finding Nemo when Dorie sings, 'just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming', while I swim my little heart out for the rest of the pregnancy. Because I am weightless in water, and that is a wonderful feeling.
{Embracing the very obvious bump & running at 23 weeks}


  1. Hahahahahaha! I love love LOVE this post! And guess what? I'm going to learn to sail! And you'll be able to come with me and swim whether you're pregnant or not! There are always new adventures and new things to learn and do when we are prohibited from one activity!

    1. Hiya Ros! Your comment put a big smile on my face : )
      That is very exciting about you learning to sail - here's to new adventures and all that there is to be seen and learnt through them!

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