Running From Square One

>> Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Over the last seven months, I have significantly changed my exercise routine. At first, it was in response to some weird stuff my body was doing that I thought was impacting TTC. Then, when I did finally get pregnant, I didn’t feel like forging on as a badass #motherrunner like I did in my pregnancy with Ada. Even before we knew something was wrong, I had decided against racing and running long distances because I wonder if it contributed to my irritable uterus. My activity -- instead -- was made up of several 3-4 mile runs, some at-home Barre workouts, hour-long walks, indoor cycling, and even some X-country skiing.

What a long, cold winter we had, eh?

Exercise related to pregnancy is definitely a highly personal choice. Beyond being a choice, it’s often dictated by certain conditions or situations specific to each woman. I know people who have run marathons while pregnant. Lifted huge and heavy weights. Etc. These women all delivered healthy babies -- and more power to them. At the same time, I see an alarming trend of treating pregnancy like a challenge. In some ways, I feel running -- at least longer distances -- during my first pregnancy was sometimes more about proving something to myself. So, that's why I had a change of heart this time around.

I was reading a Runner’s World post the other day where the author was offering suggestions for women who were returning to running after a long break during pregnancy. Then tons of women chimed in quite enthusiastically (and, yes, slightly judgmentally) about why there’s absolutely no reason to break. True. One had just completed a half marathon. Another ran with her stroller during pregnancy. Yet another ran something like five miles the morning she gave birth. These stories are inspirational. At the same time, many women wrote how they were unable to run for X, Y, Z reasons. Most felt bad or frustrated or upset in some other way, etc. I could sympathize. It’s also incredibly important for runners to treat running during pregnancy as an individual thing.

Both sides are totally legitimate and respectable.

Whatever the case, now that I’m back to just myself again, I’m trying to get in a better groove with moderate running. And guys . . . it’s so, so, so hard! I used to sign up for random half marathons just for fun. I’d do these events without real training and still finish around 1:45. I’m not bragging, but just showing that my fitness has taken a nose-dive. I ran my first 10K distance since January last night and felt like I was clinging to the edge of the earth to finish at around a 9-minute mile pace. I was proud of myself in the end, but my body ached, my lungs burned, and mentally it took everything I had.

I know running will get easier with more time and practice. I’m conflicted on where to go from here, though. I have around three months of waiting until we can try again, but at the same time, I don’t want to drastically change my activity level and risk messing up my cycle more than it’s already going to be wonky. It's tempting to sign up for a half marathon or just lots of races in general, but I think I’ll try to run mostly for myself. Maybe get up to some long run distances between 8-10 miles. Maybe not. Consistency is more important than distance or pace to me right now. Mentally and physically. I wrote about this before, but there are a couple 10Ks I might do, and I think I’ll leave it at that.

As for exercise and miscarriage, I know that I didn’t cause any harm by moving and grooving. My doctor told me the issue was very likely chromosomal, especially at this early stage. Still, I’ll be honest. There was part of me that felt like I had some control over the situation. I’m still looking for someone or something to blame, and I think that’s only natural in this part of the grieving process. I spent several weeks basically in bed thinking if I just rested I could turn my situation around. No amount of inactivity improved our outcome. I’m going to consult with my doctor over how I should approach running/exercise the next time I’m pregnant and try my best to strive for holistic health.

Are you coming back to running after a long break? 

What are your suggestions and tips for starting from square one? I’ll share that being patient with my body is the best thing I’m trying to do. Versus taking my watch on too many runs and scrutinizing how far I’ve fallen off the mark, I try to celebrate each run as the accomplishment it is. I couldn’t run 6.2 miles last week . . . and now I can. Who cares about the stats?

Happy Tuesday, friends!

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