Running and Pregnancy: In Defense of Running for Two

Written by 2019 DBR Ambassador Marie-Eve Pelland. 2018 was a pivotal year for me: learning I was pregnant with my first child early in March,…


Written by 2019 DBR Ambassador Marie-Eve Pelland.

2018 was a pivotal year for me: learning I was pregnant with my first child early in March, I was forced to re-evaluate my running goals and ambitions.

As a long distance runner, it was important for me to keep running, for both my physical and mental health. With my physical therapist background, I was confident that I could continue my regular activities while pregnant as my body was alraedy used to the activity. So I kept running.

Let’s face it: It wasn’t long until I was judged. I received a whole lot of judgement by a whole lot of different people, from my family doctor (unaware of my athletic background), to my boss (who is actually physical therapist too), all the way to my clients and family.

Not surprisingly, everything changes through your pregnancy, and will do so continuously throughout the 9-month adventure: You can’t see your feet past your growing belly; the thought of climbing the stairs has you out of breath; your heart rate doubles at the simple concept of a run.

Guess what? I feel you. The best you can do is learn to roll with the punches and adapt as quickly as those changes occur.

Each pregnancy term will bring its own surprises. In adaptation terms: you will have to adjust your training accordingly. We’ve all heard the advice time and time again, but the key here once again is to listen to yourself and trust your body.

To help you deal with these waves of changes, here are some tips, dear trail running mommy-to-be!

Slow down.

Your body is hard at work building a baby… The #1 rule is not to forget that, EVER. You will have to navigate fatigue, nausea, hormonal AND physical changes. Some quick do’s and don’ts as a result:

  • Don’t try to keep up your usual pace.
  • Do slow it down and appreciate the fact that you are still able to run.
  • Do shorten your distances and be careful with technical trails.
  • And if I must add, don’t sign up for races too far in advance. You just never know how your body will feel/be by the time of the event.

Listen to your body.

Don’t try to push yourself. A moderate-intensity physical activity is more than enough for your pregnant body.

According to the 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy, the ideal Heart Rate Reserve (HRR) is between 40% and 59% of your maximal heart rate.

Another quick tip to make sure that you are not pushing too hard, you should be able to talk with ease while running. If not, slow it down. Pace yourself. It’s that simple.

Be careful.

As trail runner, we  constantly have to deal with uneven terrain. Watch your steps and focus on your running technique. Short strides are helpful to minimize impacts and be more cautious of hazards. More specifically, pay attention while running downhill.

Work on your core and pelvic floor strength.

Cross training is always good for runners to incorporate, but for a pregnant runner, it’s essential.

  • Focus on your transverse abdominis (one of our most important spine stabilizers) and your pelvic floor.
  • Avoid crunches or any other exercises that would increase the normal diastasis (ie. the gap between the rectus abdominis, which is created by the growth of your belly).

You can consult a physical therapist or any other health professional specialized in pregnancy to have a specific program.

Last October, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published the 2019 Canadian guideline for physical activity throughout pregnancy.The recommendations are simple:

  • All women without contraindication should be physically active throughout pregnancy.
  • All women should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week to achieve clinically meaningful health benefits and reductions in pregnancy complications.

Dear friends, I strongly recommend you to take a look at it and, most importantly, talk with your doctor or gynecologist if you have any questions. In addition, everybody and every pregnancy is different, so what works for one may not necessarily work for another.

So now you have some of the details! Go on and grab your running shoes, your DBR trucker hat, and enjoy the trails with your growing passenger.

Marie-Eve is a physical therapist working in Quebec, Canada and has been working in the field for 9 years. She mostly works with runners and an athletic clientele.

Like her style? Check out more from Marie-Eve and her tips and tricks for the newbie trail runner.

Please note: The Content above is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.