I knew this day was coming. I think at some point, every pregnant runner knows this day is coming. Sigh.

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It has come.

The day when running is no longer an easy, relaxing endeavor. The day when your legs burn out under an additional 20+ pounds, or you lungs can’t expand enough (thanks giant lung-crushing, baby belly.) or your hips simply can’t take it, and your gait is off. Whatever the reason, eventually  most pregnant runners, at some point, have to slow it down to a walk. (If you’re one of those who can run a marathon two weeks before popping out a healthy 8 pound baby, congrats! You can now teach us your ways.)

I was reluctant at first. I think most runners are. We have it in our heads that walking is weak and faster is better. (Which, truth be told, rings true: faster means you win and stuff. Plus, it’s fun to go faster.) We think walking isn’t much of a workout and doesn’t do much for our performance. And… well… why bother?

There are plenty of benefits to walking. It’s still provides cardiovascular benefits, it still increases muscle tone, it’s gentle on the joints (which is nice during pregnancy when things start to relax and can actually cause some pain). Walking on a incline can really provide a nice workout, or walking at a quick pace can even be more beneficial than running at a slower pace.

I had been taking walking breaks during some of my runs, especially when I was really tired, but the time has come that I need to incorporate them more frequently. I’ve been basically running intervals – 5 minutes running, 5 minutes walking at an incline. I try to aim for between 30-40 minutes to get the job done. And honestly, there are plenty of times when even that wipes me out and I’m snoozing during the boys’ naptime. I also know the day is coming when the walking will soon overtake the running. (Which bums me out, but is not completely surprising.) And I have to be ok with that.

My entire purpose in running through this pregnancy was not to win a medal or race a marathon, but to maintain my fitness level as best I’m able. I won’t be able to see the outcome until after this baby is born, but I’m confident that once she is, I will bounce back quickly and be able to return to my regular running routine sooner rather than later. (Barring any complications, Lord-willing.) I’m also confident that keeping my strength up will allow for an easier delivery or at least prepare me for the VERY physical task of labor. After all, no one runs a marathon with zero training, so why would I go into an even more physically demanding event with no training?

I’m also using this “slowing down” time, to focus more on toning. Weight training and yoga are my two focuses. (Again, to keep my strength and fitness up for labor.) Which will also hopefully help postpartum and with Baby Girl. If you think carrying around a 7-8 pound baby is easy, try doing it at 2 am for two and half hours. Yeah. It hurts.

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The point to all this rambling? Keep going. If you’re like me and want to stop and sleep instead of working out – keep going. If you’re newly pregnant and are looking to start exercising – keep going. If you had a baby 6 months ago and are frustrated with your postpartum body – keep going. If you had a baby 5 years ago and don’t know where to begin – keep going. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s really hard. But the payout is totally worth it. (Huh, sounds kinda like pregnancy, doesn’t it: 9 months of discomfort and ickiness followed by awesome and adorable payout.)

So keep going. In the end, it’s always worth it.

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