Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Running vs Walking - A pregnant runner's dilemma

When I was pregnant with my first, I followed all the "rules" that I was reading online and in books; I stopped drinking diet coke, eliminated deli meats, limited my tuna sandwiches, and kept my heart rate below 140.
Wait, what? Keep my heart rate down and still be able to run? How was I supposed to do that? It's not like I was out of shape to begin with - I had ran the Philly Half Marathon about a month before I learned I was pregnant. I tried to run, but to no avail. After less that 5 minutes I was over 140. So I tried the elliptical, but that was no use either. So I resorted to what any other normal person would do - I sat on the couch and ate ice cream (almost) every day.
I gained 40-something pounds and had Munchie in September of 2008. I slowly resumed running over the winter of 2009 and ran my first post-partum 5k that spring, followed by my first half marathon in August of 2009. I was happy that I was able to get back into running, racing, and had lost almost all of the baby weight.
In the spring of 2010, I began my blog and started following some other running blogs. I came across 2 women who were running during their pregnancies. Really? How cool was that! I started to do some research and realized that the 140 heart rate "rule" was a little outdated, especially for someone who was used to running and in good physical condition. I vowed that if/when I ever got pregnant again, I would continue to run.
Over the winter of 2011, while training for the Lake George Half Marathon in April, we got pregnant again! I continued running, and finished the 13.1 at 6 weeks pregnant. I continued running and doing some smaller races - a few 5ks and a 5-miler. I was feeling good and so excited to keep up my fitness level. But as my pregnancy progressed, so did my back pain.
As a physical therapist, I was having my co-workers treat my back in between patients or at lunch. Eventually I realized that I needed my own appointments and started to get treated regularly. Unfortunately, I made a realization - my back was worse after I ran.
It was suggested to me to "just walk" instead of run. Walk? But that's not running. Previously, if I came back from a long run and wasn't able to run all of it, I felt like it wasn't a successful run. So I guess you could say I equated walking as failure? In my head, it was kinda hard to translate walking into a productive way to exercise at that time.
Well, now it's been a few months. And the heat waves are over. And there is nice, cool weather in the mornings. And I have an itch to RUN. But I know it's not in the cards, at least not for another 3 months (plus a few weeks for post-partum recovery!). I have conceded to walking and am ok with it for now. At least it's exercise and I am feeling good about it!