Pregnancy and Half-Marathon Training

I found out I was pregnant when I was half way through half-marathon training.  I found out on Friday, and then on Saturday I ran nine miles, and then I played hockey, and the next day, I played another game of hockey.  While you can certainly engage in sports while pregnant, I’m not sure that I would recommend this particular schedule.  I wanted to specifically address pregnancy and half marathon training.

The half marathon I ran while pregnant was my eighth half (I’m pretty sure) and I’d also done a full marathon and a few ten-milers.  So I have a good muscle memory for running 13.1 miles, and I generally find that my body adapts pretty well to the long runs when I’m training.  I would not necessarily recommend training for and running a half while pregnant if it is a totally new distance to you. If you’ve done at least a ten miler before, and you are doing it in your first trimester, you might be okay, and plenty of women run halfs well into their third trimesters.  If you’ve run at least a couple of halfs and are a regular runner, you’re probably fine doing a half, but definitely talk to your doctor first.   My first phone call to my doctor, other than scheduling my appointment, was to ask if I could go downhill skiing, play ice hockey, and run a half-marathon all before my first appointment.  She was fine with two of the three.

So how was training actually?  My training schedule was generally one long run on Saturdays and a short run or two during the week.  I ran more during the week than I usually do, thanks to my husband’s marathon training, but we also had an awful winter, so a lot of those runs were rainy or icy and I didn’t want to fall, so I didn’t really push myself.

I had no problem with 30 min – 60 min of exercise.  It generally made me feel better and sleep better, which is par for the course for me.  However, I found I was pretty worn out after my long runs.  That symptom started before I even tested positive.  I needed at least an hour long nap after a run that was more than four miles.  I found that I needed to protect my Saturdays so that I could run, and then nap, and eat all of the food in the house, and take it easy.  Since I like to do other stuff besides train, I did not really enjoy this.

I also noticed almost immediately that I was unbearably thirsty all of the time.  My throat would get dry and then I would feel sick.  I broke out my Camelbak and wore it for all of my long runs, as well as my half.  I started to put Nuun in it and that also helped a lot with making sure I was getting enough nutrients and helped with my energy levels.

I was relatively sick up until about Week 18 – I was throwing up on a semi-regular basis, and taking zofran so I could get through mornings I had court.  However, I generally found that as long as I had water with me, I felt better when I was running, or at least, it didn’t make it worse.  And it took my mind off the nausea.  This is not a justification for anyone to nag their pregnant friend into running because, “this girl whose blog I read says that the running doesn’t make nausea worse.”  Everyone is different and you know your body.

My pace slowed almost immediately as well.  On my own, my pace was up to 11-12 minute miles, rather than my usual slightly sub-10.  So, I knew right away that my half time was not going to set any records.  With friends, I could step it up and run 9 to 10 minute miles, but I couldn’t maintain it for more than a few miles.  So I finished the half in 2:15, but felt good about my time and my general performance.  2:15 isn’t even my worst half time, so I was pretty pleased.

Overall, my muscles and body were fine, other than the general fatigue.  I’m really glad the half was early on in my pregnancy, because even a little bit later, I started to have more trouble running. I would say that I would have been fine running a half at a decent pace up to about 10-12 weeks, but after that, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it and I would have been doing it just to prove that I could.  The run portion of my tri and training was definitely the least pleasant part.  (Next Up: Pregnancy and Tri Training)  However, plenty of women run halfs much later in pregnancy – and the seasons definitely affect that as well – it’s no coincidence that running has gotten less pleasant the hotter it’s gotten.

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