I have received a great amount of positive feedback and support as a result of my previous blog post, “Running a Marathon During Pregnancy.” I have also received many inquiries of how I have been able to continue to train for a marathon and run long distance during my pregnancy. For this post, I felt it necessary to share four adjustments I made to train for a marathon during pregnancy.
I was already a runner prior to pregnancy and familiar with training for a marathon. Training during my pregnancy, however, has been a completely different process requiring flexibility, patience, and adjustments. Over the years I have learned that I should listen to my body when it comes to running and training for a marathon, but I must admit that I have not always done it. During this marathon training, however, I have become exceptionally better at listening to my body now that I am training during pregnancy and running with a body that is constantly changing. It’s ironic because I feel that I am in better shape today at almost six months pregnant than I have been in the past prior to a marathon. I am not injured, fatigued, or under-trained for the 26.2-mile marathon distance.
Here are four adjustments I have made to successfully continue my marathon training during pregnancy:
1. My New “Pregnancy Pace”
My goal from the beginning of my training has been to continue to do what I love, and that is run! One of the first adjustments I had to make (and continue to make) was modifying my running pace to a more comfortable customized pregnancy pace. My new pace is not fixed and continues to change as my body continues to change. My pace is determined based on how I feel and what is most comfortable to me when running. I have gauged this comfort level by my breathing and how I feel physically during my runs as well as after my runs. I never push myself and now always listen to my body.
I have always had a pretty healthy diet of low carbohydrates and lots of fruits, veggies, legumes, with chicken and fish twice a week. Since my pregnancy I eat what I crave and do not limit myself when it comes to my diet. As a result, I have dramatically increased my consumption of protein and carbohydrates to being the majority of what my meals consist of. It has been a challenge finding the exact foods that agree with me, as I find that my runs can be affected by what I eat the day before and the morning of prior to a run. I have also discovered that snacks during my runs of more than eight miles are essential. Through trial and error, I have found that the easiest snacks for me to digest during my longer runs are fig bars, trail mix, bananas, and GU Energy Gels.
I feel that I am in better shape today at almost six months pregnant than I have been in the past prior to a marathon.
Water has been so important to my training that I purchased a Camelbak, which is a running hydration backpack that holds more water than my previous water belt. I utilize this hydration backpack for any runs that are over an hour. Water not only quenches my thirst but also gives me the energy I need to complete my mileage. I have not experienced any muscle cramps, fatigue, or dehydration during this marathon training, and I believe that proper hydration has been a key contributing factor.
Plenty of sleep has been significant in my marathon training during pregnancy, which is why I include sleep as part of my training. Prior to pregnancy I could easily function on six hours of sleep. Now that I am not only training for a marathon but also growing a healthy future runner inside of me, it is essential that I get at least eight hours of sleep each night. There have been some nights I have not been able to get a full eight hours of sleep and therefore will make up for it by going to bed at least an hour earlier the following night, or by catching a cat nap with my active 3-year-old the next day!
I am currently 23 weeks pregnant and less than two weeks away from running The Light at the End of the Tunnel Marathon. I have successfully completed a 20-mile run two weeks ago and now am tapering (decreasing my mileage) to prepare for the marathon. I have no expectations for the outcome of this race, but feel very confident in my training. I think my biggest challenge for this marathon will be to locate the restrooms along the marathon course, as I have never been one to use a bush!