Sidelined! One Runner’s Complete Exercise Hiatus During High-Risk Pregnancy


by For Two Fitness June 30, 2011

Today, we introduce Kim, an avid runner with big plans to keep running throughout her pregnancy. Twins and a potentially dangerous medical condition not only thwarted her running plans, but let to a complete exercise hiatus…

 

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Hello, my name is Kim, and I am a wife, a mother, and a runner. Running brings me joy, fulfillment, and balance, and I feel most centered and calm when I am padding along on the trails, or pounding out repeats on the track.

Before I got pregnant, I pictured myself running until I delivered, sharing my love of running with my new little belly buddy and drawing stares (admiring or otherwise) from those non-runners who noticed the bump under my tech tee.

In July of 2009, just a few days after a fantastic half marathon, my husband and I found out we were expecting, and we were thrilled. I had planned on running my first full marathon in September, and immediately scaled back my running with hopes to switch to the half marathon.

When we went in for our first ultrasound a few weeks later, we got the surprise of our lives… TWINS! I was told to cut my mileage immediately, and that I wouldn’t be allowed any running after twenty weeks. Unfortunately, I got a phone call the next day and was diagnosed with placenta previa, which called for a complete hiatus from exercise.

The abrupt switch from the peak of marathon training to no exercise, which was then followed by fourteen weeks of bedrest was incredibly difficult. For months, I had a vivid recurring dream of running on a quiet wooded trail, with autumn leaves falling like snow around me with no sound except the soft crunch of the trail underfoot. I had a very high-risk pregnancy, and during the scariest times I would hold my belly and talk silently to my babies about that dream and feel some of the anxiety ebb away.

My sweet boys were born healthy only a month early, and I was so eager to return to running the first thing out of my mouth during my C-section after “I’m not pregnant anymore!” was “When can I go running?” My OB cleared me to start running two weeks post-partum, and exactly two weeks to the hour of when I gave birth, I headed out to the track for a run.

It wasn’t so much a run as an awkward, belly-clutching lurch about the pace of a slow walk, but it felt good to finally get to out there. I set my sights on a half marathon three months later – the same one that I had run unknowingly pregnant the year before.

Soon, however, it was apparent that the demands of breastfeeding two babies around the clock while trying to squeeze in long runs, while also trying to squeeze myself in running clothes two sizes too small was no easy task. I did manage to struggle through the race (a solid forty minutes slower than the year before), and was so burned out on running that I hung up my shoes for a few months, and that was the best decision I made with my post-partum fitness.

My frustration with not being able to run while pregnant coupled with my determination to return quickly to pre-pregnancy fitness led me to me feeling anxious and overwhelmed at a time when the only thing overwhelming should have been the demands of caring for my new babies. I was grateful to be able to get out of the house, and truly enjoyed a lot of the runs in the early days of my kids’ lives, but I wish I would have been more lenient with myself; running when I felt like it, until I felt like stopping, instead of dragging my exhausted self out the door until I was done with the number of miles on my schedule for the day.

What I neglected to realize at that time was the amazing gift my body had given me; not only did it create and nurture two babies, it grew and stretched to proportions I never would have thought possible to keep those babies cooking until they could be born healthy, and it produced milk to nourish and soothe my babies after they were born. I wish, to show my gratitude and respect, I would have treated my body more gently.

My kids are now 15 months old, and I am currently training for that same half marathon. I am back to my old self fitness-wise, and have never enjoyed running more. Post-pregnancy, I feel more connected to my body than ever, and love nothing more than rolling around on the floor with my kids, even if it means skipping a run. And although I do sometimes feel a pang of sadness that I never got to experience running pregnant, I love taking my two crazy toddlers out for a run on the trails I told them all about while they were still in my belly.

You can read more from Kim at her blog, Life in the Twin Lane.

 




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