The third trimester has arrived. I’m big, I’m tired and quite frankly, I’m over hearing about my belly. Objectively, I probably can’t really say that I’m big but I certainly feel big, especially when I knock something over with my behind (and having to hear various comments from every single person I meet about my size doesn’t help). Stepping on the scale has become the reverse moment from “The Biggest Loser”. Some weeks I get what I expect; other weeks leave me with my mouth open and a lack of words.
I feel like there’s a moment at the beginning of the third trimester where someone switches a light and pregnancy goes from being fun and not so difficult to just painful and tiring. That light just switched for me and I can feel all the “weight” of this pregnancy slamming down on me. I’m not physically tired, per se, but I am getting tired of everything else that goes along with being pregnant. Aside from the above mentioned conversations about the size of my growing belly, I’m re-living all the random things that you apparently can’t do, the constant questioning if I am tired (or sick, or comfortable, or if I need to sit, etc, etc), and basically, just being anybody’s reason for conversation. And everyone is so nice and friendly and genuinely concerned that it’s hard to actually be mad. But while it’s one interaction out of their day, it’s about the 25th interaction of the same kind that I have had that day.
While I am beyond happy to be pregnant and in my alone time I often reflect on just how lucky I am to be growing a child (especially a healthy one) sometimes I just long to disappear from view while I’m out doing my regular things, even if just for a moment.
And at 28 weeks, even the other runners on the trails have started to give me funny looks. I like to pretend sometimes that with my jacket and my sweater that no one can tell (a facade that crumbles once I pass just about anything reflective). Once the hardcore, 6am, rain/wind/snow runners start to think you’re crazy, you’re probably getting close to the limit (thankfully little old ladies and nosey neighbours aren’t up when I head out for my runs so I am saved from them!).
If you’re pregnant and running (and hoping to continue), here’s what I can offer from personal experience:
Cut your distance (or at least your speed)
Keeping up both your speed and your distance is a bit much for the third trimester. Personally I’ve never been much of a speed lover. I prefer long races in which I can settle into my pace and enjoy some great scenery along the way. So for me, it is far more pleasurable to focus on keeping up my distance rather than my speed. I take breaks to walk a bit, slow down my speed so I can make it through the entire run and choose paths that are level so I’m not killing myself on hills.
Eat, Drink (and pee) before you head out
Pregnancy has many wonderful aspects to it. Extra bladder control is not one of them. Running while you have to pee is uncomfortable. Add pregnancy to the mix and it becomes unbearable. This is likely the most important thing you can remember about running while pregnant: stay hydrated, don’t run on an empty stomach and for pete’s sake, pee before you head out (and knowing where a bathroom is along the way doesn’t hurt either!).
Many people complain to me that eating before a run is impossible for them. I get it. Eating a burger and then doing an 8km run is not the best idea, but eating a half of a banana, a glass of milk, a handful of nuts or even a small cereal bar is by far better for you than getting light-headed from hunger mid-way through your run. Start by eating something really small and work your way up to something a bit bigger (or stuff something in your pocket to eat along the way).
Dress your best
Every had a running shirt ride up while running? Well, running with a too-short shirt is worse when there’s a bump sticking out. Especially in winter! Nothing will make your little one squirm like a cold chill along the bottom of your belly. Simple tricks? Using a Bellaband is not only a great way to cover your belly from the cold but it also keeps your belly nice and tight so you don’t have the feeling of bouncing your baby up and down (plus it can also help with that whole, “I have to pee again!” feeling). Layers are great for ensuring that you’re not going to get overheated while you’re out for a run. Got a partner who runs? If they’re bigger than you, steal their running shirt so you’ve got some extra length.
Remember: every time you get any exercise, you’re doing something great
You don’t need to do the same things you did before pregnancy. Every run doesn’t have to be as long. You don’t have to keep track of your pace. Just enjoy your run for what it is in this moment. Don’t let yourself get too competitive with the old you. For some of you, this might seem obvious and easy and for others, it might seem like the most difficult thing in the world. Our egos are usually our own worst enemy (and the cause of our own destruction). Do your best to not let yourself stand in your own way.
Mix it up
Runners love to run and sometimes we find it hard to be satisfied with much else. But mixing it up a bit during pregnancy can be good for you. Try a pregnancy cardio class or, heaven forbid, a pregnancy yoga class. You can find some classes that really work up a sweat and others that offer just what you need: something different and a chance to focus on something other than your regular running routine. You may just find that by doing something different, you are targeting muscles that are otherwise being left out.
Too all those bumps out there on the roads and trails: Happy Running!