Jenny Lee Allen, a freelance writer based in Florida, is expecting her first child in mid-May. When she isn’t running, she enjoys spinning, indoor rowing and strength training. Her monthly column, Running For 2, documents her journey to remain fit during pregnancy; it is featured in Run South Florida magazine and appears on her blog, www.fitfabulousmama.com.
When I lace up my shoes to pound the pavement these days, I never know what kind of reaction my eight-and-a-half-month bump will elicit.
Strangers typically do a double-take when I trot by. Occasionally, they high-five me or shout “go girl” and “wow, that’s awesome.”
But more often than not, their eyes zero in on my expanding mid-section as if it’s sporting a flashing neon sign. They point their fingers, shake their heads. Their disapproval is clear.
The first time I experienced this negativity, I didn’t know what to do or say, so I set aside my anger and frustration and continued on my route. But their reactions haunted me. I wanted to know: Why are these people being so cruel?
I’ve since reached the conclusion that they aren’t mean – they’re simply misinformed.
To be honest, I used to be, too. When I first learned I was pregnant, I didn’t know much beyond, 1. don’t eat raw sushi and, 2. don’t drink alcohol.
But what about exercise, of which I was a devout follower? Could I lift weights? Take a spin class? Go for a long jog?
In need of answers, I turned to my doctor (and the Internet) and learned that exercise does not hurt the baby or cause miscarriages. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, working out at least 30 minutes a day can reduce backaches, increase energy and improve a woman’s ability to cope with labor.
Furthermore, my doc said that because I was very active pre-pregnancy, I could continue my exercise routine – including long-distance runs -– with slight modifications. My sigh of relief upon hearing this news was audible.
You see, I run because it not only keeps me fit, it keeps me sane. I feel a sense of satisfaction with every mile that I complete, and a good run can eliminate a bad mood in a snap.
These days, my pace has slowed and I’ve adopted a 1 to 1 formula I call “Mama Miles” – for every mile I run, I walk for 1 minute, then repeat until I hit my target mileage. I may be slow-moving, but I’m still out there, and I feel fabulous.
While pregnant, I challenged myself to run in one race every month. So far, so good! I’ve completed two half-marathons, two 10Ks and four 5Ks. My final race will be May 3.
So for all of you runners out there who have a baby riding shotgun, don’t let the stares get you down.
We may be pregnant, but we are not so fragile that we’ll break under the slightest pressure. We are strong women who, by lacing up our shoes and continuing to hit the road, are becoming even stronger mommas, both physically and mentally. Our babies will be proud.
Before your next run, check out my five preggo running must-haves:
1. Runner’s World Guide to Running & Pregnancy. This book provides practical, month-by month advice for expectant runners. It also includes testimonials from pregnant runners who aren’t scared to share the nitty-gritty details of their journeys.
2. High-impact sports bra. Your girls are growing, and simply doubling up with your old bras will not do. Invest in a high-quality bra that will keep the ta-tas safe and secure. My fav is New Balance Shockingly Unshocking, which has adjustable straps and ventilation panels; it also comes in sizes A-DD.
3. Heart rate monitor. I think of my Polar FT-140 as my security blanket; knowing my heart rate at all times when I run makes me feel secure that I am not overdoing it.
4. Maternity support belt. I had no clue what this was a few months ago, but now it’s my new best friend. The Velcro-adjustable belt supports your bump while also taking pressure off your bladder, meaning less bathroom breaks on long runs. I swear by the Maternity FITsplint by MomBod Fitness, which has two straps for maximum belly support.
5. Patience. If only we could buy this…but seriously, patience is essential to being a pregnant runner. In the beginning, I lacked patience and would get frustrated when I couldn’t perform to pre-baby expectations. I’ve learned to celebrate what I can still do because I realize that my body is doing something else amazing right now – nurturing my beautiful baby.
This post is brought to you by For Two Fitness®. For Two Fitness® is the premier maternity fitness apparel brand, proudly made in the USA and available worldwide. Visit our site to explore our maternity fitness apparel and purchase for you or a loved one today.
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