Pregnancy, running, the truth and all

Are you still running? Has been the question most people have asked me throughout this pregnancy. I have felt the pressure to keep fit and to stay in shape, mainly because I want to get back racing as soon as possible, but after pushing myself to run for 36 weeks I am looking back now wondering if it was my most sensible decision. We will see!

Black is very forgiving

After the first 4 months of morning sickness this pregnancy has really been relatively easy, as easy as a third pregnancy can be. I have pushed through a few barriers to carry on ‘training’ (mainly to match  Debs  who told me she ran to 36 weeks and she is my idol ). At 36 weeks I was having to wear pregnancy running leggings, plus a band and a supportive vest to try and keep my bump stable and was spending more time squatting in the bushes needing a pee than running so decided to call it a day. I also noticed my feet and ankles were getting really sore, which was probably from the slight increase in weight (ahem!) and the fact I was running funny and epically slow. So I packed away my running kit and have since then just walked the dog a couple of times a day and generally kept moving by looking after the boys. I would have liked to have swam, but getting to a pool, changed, doing a session etc in the evening was never going to happen, once bath time is over this big mamma needs to eat and watch Made in Chelsea reruns.

In the first week I didn’t run I really beat myself up over being lazy and not sticking with it. Ridiculous really, my end goal of this pregnancy was always to get to full term fit, healthy and with a vague recollection of what my toes looked like.  Being able to run again a few months after the birth with two functioning feet and a healthy core and pelvic floor would be a mark of this.  Forcing my body into carrying on running when every muscle and fibre was hurting was not wise, but I still tried a few times. I did feel pressure to be the mum that could carry on running till her due date. But us mums need to be realistic.  I have been so lucky to have come out of having two children and be able to run well again.  Its NOT easy, you want those abs back, you want to have control of your bodily functions , but man alive do you have to work hard. Losing the baby weight, for me, is the easy bit, its getting the muscles and legs back working again which takes time and patience. No one tells you that or is interested in that though. As long as you are back in your jeans that is all that matters in our society, but that is so just half the story.

The ‘Kate’ effect  has done us Mums no favours..having just packed my hospital bag with my stretchiest tracksuit bottoms, comfiest nursing t shirt, biggest pants and flip flops ready for my ‘going home’ outfit, knowing no one will give the slightest notice of what I am wearing, no one will care, all anyone will be interested in will be that the baby and I are healthy and safely at home. The pressure that poor girl must have been under to make a glamorous appearance hours after giving birth makes me mad. I wish, wish she had appeared in her slack pants, then I know we would have been friends for life. So the last few weeks I have been asking myself why should I feel guilty for feeling too sore, too heavy, too tired to run when I am just about to give birth? I do though and that is just the madness of the world and the pressure on women right now. We applaud those who win races 3 months post birth, who ping back into shape, who go straight back to work. Just like everything portrayed in social media nowadays no one looks at what is going on behind scenes, just at the glossy images and text that are thrown our way and projected as the ‘ideal.’ Take a look a little closer and I wonder if Kate cried the minute she got home or the ‘mum’ who is back running straight away really knows the damage she could be doing to her body?

Being dropped by the kids

So I REFUSE to be one of those women to lie to you about being pregnant, exercising, having kids, training with kids. Its bloody hard work. Being pregnant and running sucks. You want to do it, do. But do it on your time frame and on your own agenda. You want to sit on your butt for 9 months and eat cookies. Do.
Heres my technical advice – running  and exercise will make you feel better and keep you clinging on to that last scrap of fitness and muscle tone, but it will hurt, you will heavy breathe, you will pee yourself, people will make comments. It wont however stop you getting fat arms, fat legs, a fat bum. There is nothing you can do about that. There is no point fighting nature. It is the only time in life when we really can’t do anything about the ‘experience’ apart from to sit back and enjoy the ride! I am only wishing now I had slightly sat back a little more and given myself a bit more slack for being ‘pregnant’ not just ‘fat and unfit.’

Though I paint rather a gloomy picture of my past 9 months I can guarantee by keeping active it will mean coming back to fitness and strength post baby is easier (in my experience). I am not sure about making the labour any quicker, I am perhaps not the pin up girl of giving birth, neither so far have been my finest hour! But I know the trauma of childbirth and the consequent few days have been greatly helped by my ability to cope with pain, my endurance and determination to get up and moving again and the amazing gift from nature that you forget all the pain and swearing and are willing to do it all again!

So the last few weeks, instead of worrying about my current size or pace I have concentrated on what I can control. Feeding my body well, resting (ha ha!!), enjoying my time with just 2 children, trying to embrace slowing down rather than fighting my way through it (as is my way in most things in life!)  , watching my runners and triathletes come into some great shape ready for lots of upcoming races and generally just letting everything ‘loosen’ up. I know the road back to where I was and beyond will be hard, but I have a great support network in my husband and Team CR. Both I know will be pushing me out the door, but also holding my hand should the journey back prove a little steep and rocky,

So thats my story of this pregnancy; I have run longer than in the previous two, did I enjoy it? Not really, but I hope that by stopping before I have done myself any long term damage I will be good to get back in a bit of shape this year. Has it been hard? Yes, incredibly. More fatigue, more aches, epic sickness, but never ever have I regretted my decision to both keep running and have a third baby. I cannot wait to be a family of 5. I cannot wait to see my children continue to grow, get stronger and develop their love for the outside and running. I cannot wait to get back into my yellow t shirt and smash up those trails with my buddies. I am very very lucky I know that, cankles and all.

Comments ( 3 )

  • Ben Pine says:

    Excellent post. Well done for sticking with it. You are bold and fierce. Best of luck for your birth. Ben (newly minted father and enthusiastic trail runner).

  • Katie S says:

    Sorry if this posts twice, I just tried to post and lost it. Just wanted to say thank you for writing this blog. I've got a 9-week old, my first, and have just started trying to run again. I was horrified by how difficult it now is! It's so reassuring to read about someone who has been through the same, especially as you're so much more hardcore than me (after last year's London Marathon I'm going back to to plodding round halves from now on) and has been great reassurance that, whilst I need to scale back my ambitions of how quickly I'll be able to start entering races again, I will get there. Your thoughts about going back to work and adjusting to your new identity as "mum" after having your first also really chimed with me, and the internal battles I'm currently having with myself. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences, it's made me feel heaps better! xx

  • Edwina Sutton says:

    Hi Katie, Thanks for your message. I am only just reading it now. How is your running going? Thinking of you- you can do it! Eddie x

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