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The First Trimester – Pregnant Runner


Pregnant Runners Face Challenges and Joys During Pregnancy


The first trimester, while exhausting, is exciting; enjoy it now before the weight of the pregnancy literally and figuratively, start to show!

Congratulations! You have just learned you are pregnant and you have a big race coming up next month.

Go for it!

The nice thing about your first trimester is that chances are, you won’t put on more than 10 pounds. In fact, if many of you have morning sickness, it’s probable you won’t put on any weight at all. Therefore, if you were like me and became pregnant while training for a marathon, keep going; especially if the race occurs while you are  in your first trimester.

I say these words with caution, however. If you become pregnant and you are experiencing any vaginal bleeding stop running and consult your doctor. I cannot be more serious about this. When I became pregnant with my first son, I was six weeks away from the San Diego Marathon; I was training with a group and was in great shape. My doctor told me I was healthy and since I’ve been a runner most of my life, he actually encouraged me to keep training.  It was my doctor’s sense of calm and encouragement that was a real boon to me. It made being a pregnant runner not such a big deal.

Training in Months 1-3

I was fatigued like most of us are in the first trimester, but fortunate that I did not have any morning sickness. My real issue was that the smell of honey suckles along the running path made me want to throw up but it’s not like I couldn’t focus on something else; like my sore chest or the fact that nine months was a long, long, long time. My running partner was the best part of my training. I don’t think I would have survived my long distance days if Chenoa were not with me. Her encouragement was important; as well as her presence. I do admit I was nervous about being alone on my distance runs. What if something happened to me? I immediately became protective of my baby even if it was only about as big as my thumb. I figured, pregnancy is serious business and I’m not going to mess it up by running alone or by training poorly. I read that in the first trimester, fatigue, dizziness, and a whole host of things can happen. Ichose to stay hydrated and well-rested. During training runs I kept a mental tab on how I felt every step of the way and was not afraid to stop if I needed to.

Fortunately, none of these things happened and training continued without a hitch. I bore down and kept on schedule; logging the traditional 18, 20, and 22 mile runs I needed to complete in the weeks before my race.  Come race day, I was moody- full of hormones, race jitters, and two double D’s!

Race Issues

Courtesy of Google Images

Pregnant Runner

I admit I was conforted by the fact that I would not have a round bump during my race because for some reason, that did not seem very marathon-like – I guess I was afraid I’d be judged for being pregnant. Besides, you don’t see many pregnant runners run marathons and I wasn’t sure what other people thought about that. While toeing the line I was grateful I looked like everyone else.  It made the fact that I was pregnant easier to handle.

Besides, I had other issues. I wasn’t enthralled by the fact that my chest was so sore (and huge) that I needed to wear two running bras just to keep my new friends in place. A few miles  into the race, however, the competitive spirit took me and off I went with a goal to finish the distance. Durning the race, the fact that I was pregnant didn’t mean much to me either other than it would be the first thing my running partner would tell a medic should I faint or fall down. Fortunately, neither happened despite the 85 degree heat as many runners dropped that day due to dehydration. I figured I’d play it safe. The baby was more important than my time so I hydrated and took my time.

The accomplishment of finishing this particular was special despite my horrible time. My son to be ran a marathon with me in utero which was kind of cool. So despite not running a fast race; I ran a marathon pregnant in blistering heat and was still standing. I thought that was a major achievement; one I’d remember for a lifetime. To other runners it may not seem a big deal that a woman runs when pregnant but to everyone else I still enjoy the look I get from people when I tell them I ran a marathon pregnant with my first son.

From Maternity

NOTE: more and more pregnant women do run and compete in races like this woman from the Web site, She is 6.5 months pregnant and doing just great! Unfortunately I don’t think I would have had the guts to run a race this pregnant.

Dealing with the Weight Gain

Putting on my first few pounds scared me at first. When I stepped on the scale at my second doctor’s appointment a few days after the marathon, I expressed my concern. I could not believe that after running a marathon that I had gained two pounds.

“Honey, you are pregnant, you are going to put on weight” the nurse said, looking at me like I was a sad case for even complaining.

My friend, Lisa, who knew that I was a stickler for body image asked me straight out if I was able to handle the weight gain that comes with pregnancy. I told her I’d need to get over it; and I did after the nurse stated the obvious. I needed to give in and let my body do what it was supposed to. From that moment I got over being a skinny runner and decided to be a mother.

What Did Running Pregnant Do the Rest of Me?

On thing I never put too much thought into while I was pregnant was what running would do to my body. I didn’t think about how my hips were spreading and that my running form would alter when my baby started to show. I was unaware of the strain on my knees and hips; I merely kept running. In the first trimester, the human body undergoes a whole bunch of changes. Your ligamets become loser and depending on how much weight you gain and where, you balance can be off – but that’s more in the second trimester.  When the weight starts to come, whether it’s one pound or ten, the extra weight does put a strain on everything and this could cause problems after baby. It’s just one of those things pregnant runners should think about, but often don’t – particularly the first time around!

I stopped running about half way through my pregnancy because my jostling belly really bugged me but I kept walking and doing other low impact exercise. I kept up the stretching and in my mind, I was just living out my pregnancy and not taking a break from running. I did not consider it taking a break if I found it uncomfortable and I certainly was not going to run just to run. I figured, there is no time like right now, to enjoy taking time off from running and to embrace my new life. The nice thing about running is that you can always start up again. Running great, Paula Radcliffe, gave birth and a year later won a marathon; proof that having a baby won’t slow you down, but that taking the time off is important and probably good for your running career!



20 thoughts on “The First Trimester – Pregnant Runner

  1. There is a device that helps make running shoe tightening, knotting, & shoe removal a breeze for pregnant runners. I found mine on google under the name lace-amatic.

    Posted by Janice | April 12, 2010, 1:27 am
  2. I’m about 5 months pregnant and running about 4 or 5 times a week. It just makes me feel so great; there’s something about running that does things that no other exercise can do : ) Thanks for your insight; I love reading about other women’s experiences and how their bodies are reacting to pregnancy!

    Posted by Alicia | May 9, 2010, 3:23 am
  3. Wow, this is seriously AWESOME. Hubby and I are trying to get pregnant (having a lot of troubles, though), and it’s very comforting to know that I don’t have to put my running on hold. I just scoured and Barnes and Noble, just to see if I could find something about running and pregnancy, and everything I found said it was off-limits! Thank goodness for all these women and you for speaking up!

    Posted by Lily | August 23, 2010, 4:47 am
  4. Lily Jane, you’ll get there and we in the community will support your running. Best of luck and keep us posted!

    Posted by Alix Shutello | August 23, 2010, 1:06 pm
  5. Just ran Marine Corps yesterday at almost 2 months pregnant. It’s my 6th marathon in four years, and I did a half Iron man two months ago so I felt like I was in pretty good shape for it. I did go a lot slower than normal, just because I was a little paranoid — finished a little over an hour slower than normal. Thank you for your post — I think a few of my family members still thought I was a little crazy.

    Lilly , check out “Exercising Through Your Pregnancy” by James Clapp, MD and “Running Through Your Pregnancy” by Chris Lundgren. Both show all the BENEFITS to exercise the entire 9 months.

    Posted by Gretchen Lynch | November 1, 2010, 9:02 pm
  6. I’m pregnant with my first child and I’ve been a runner for over 5 years now. Thank you for sharing your story. I’ll keep running as long as it feels right for me. Powerwalks are a great idea for the 3rd trimester. I’ll keep that in mind when my belly will be a bit too big to handle 😉

    Seeing all those heathly pregnant runners is really touching. :*-) Pregnancy hormones!

    Posted by leatitia | November 7, 2010, 4:14 pm
  7. Guess what?! It DID happen! I am 6.5 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and OMG, can I just say: I have not been able to run at all. After working 40 hours a week (where I push a heavy cart for 2-3 hours), I am just waaaay too exhausted! Any advice? Also, I keep getting soooo many people pushing the “running will make you miscarry- especially since it’s you’re first” opinions. Really, does this sort of commentary have any validity? :\

    Posted by Lily Jane | January 14, 2011, 3:48 am
  8. So glad I found this article… I’ve been Googling non-stop about running while in the first trimester. Just found out last week that I’m pregnant (yay!). Only about 3-4 weeks along but am in the middle of training for a marathon in May. I will still be in my first trimester and really want to do this race. I run about 50 miles per week now, with my long run at 18 miles. It will go up to 20 miles a couple times but I won’t do more than that until marathon day. My original plan was to BQ but now I just want to finish happy and healthy. I was really worried about continuing to train while preggo but feel better about it now, thank you!

    Posted by Jennifer A | March 10, 2011, 5:46 pm
    • Jennifer, I am happy you found it too. As you can see from the comment string, women do this ALL the time and you will be just fine to run the marathon. Just be careful and check in with yourself. You don’t need to do 50 miles a week, but if you can maintain it, great. Focus on the baby’s health (and yours) because a lot of changes are going on right now in your body so keep close tabs on how you feel. If you start to spot or bleed for any reason stop running immediately and get checked out. Make sure you hydrate and eat well.

      Keep us updated on your progress and good luck!

      Posted by Alix Shutello | March 10, 2011, 6:15 pm
  9. Thank you all so much for this! I have been training for my first competitive 10k run on 30 May 2011. I have been running seriously since January knocking up about 400 miles so far. The thing is I found out I was pregnant last Wednesday and am so worried about my race!

    I have 6 days till race day and have not run since I found out. The reason for my concern is that I am still only around 2-3 weeks pregnant and I do not want to do anything to jeopardise the pregnancy. In a way I wish I hadn’t found out until after the bank holiday but I am planning to run even though my Doctor said NO to high impact running! I explained it wasn’t like I was just starting running I have been running 10-15 miles at a time (ok not since I found out but before) surely it will be ok? Its only 10k and as long as I drink loads and try not to throw up on my way round i should be fine shouldn’t I? I am not planning on beating my 54 min time now and hope to complete it in a happy hour! Do you think that’s too much?

    Posted by Jeanette | May 23, 2011, 10:31 am

      I don’t know why your doctor would say NO to running when you are a runner and are in good shape. Unless you have some sort of pre-existing condition, running, in and of itself, won’t harm the baby. Now if you start running and spot (bleed) even a little, CEASE exercise and talk to your doctor. If you read the comments on this blog, you’ll see that women are running, and even competing, pregnant. I’d like your doctor to justify to you why you shouldn’t run during pregnancy.

      I am not a doctor, but I would not think there is an issue here.

      Good luck and let us know what happens!

      Posted by Alix Shutello | May 23, 2011, 2:38 pm
      • Thanks for your reply. I am 33 this is my second pregnancy my first being 10 years ago maybe why I am a bit anxious! I was surprised the Doctor said no, (he is new at our surgery) I have in fact booked another appointment with a female doc on Wednesday to get her opinion. I have no health issues I am just worried as it is still so early I could be anything between 2 and 5 weeks. Thanks for the advice I think I will buy a heart rate monitor to check my rate as I run so to try and not overdo it (so convinced the race buzz will make me run quicker!)

        Posted by Jeanette | May 23, 2011, 3:00 pm
  10. any suggestions on what heart rate to keep pregnant mommy heart under when running!? KUDOS to all for their comments and posts! Like many, I’ve been surfing the web non-stop since finding out I was pregnant and than having my doctor tell me to pass on my upcoming 1/2 marathong. I’m planning to take it slow- drink lots of water- and listen to my boby. will keep everyone posted on the outcome. in the interim, would love any feedback on the heart rate question. THANKS!!

    Posted by kmac | September 20, 2011, 10:44 pm
    • You want to keep your heart rate within the acceptable heartrate for your age range. Obviously, you don’t ever want to train constantly at your pique heart rate. Use common sense. If you start to feel tired, dizzy, or the least bit over heated … STOP. The baby is more important. I found out I was pregnant 2 months before my marathon and I ran it. Then again I had no health issues. How pregant will you be on the day of your half and where are you running it? Those are factors, of course.

      Posted by Alix Shutello | September 25, 2011, 9:34 pm
  11. I am so happy I found this page… I am 3 to 4 weeks prego and REALLY happy! I have been training for a marathon that I was planning on running in a month but I started reading online a lot about how it might cause miscarriage which is scary. I workouted out a lot before I got pregnant and have already run 7 marathons (qualified for Boston in my last one in January ’12). If I do run I will run very slow and stop if I need to but I must say I am really happy to see I am not crazy to still enjoy my marathon running!

    Posted by cary | May 3, 2012, 11:47 pm
  12. It’s refreshing to see such sights as there seems to be an amazing amount of bashing of female athletes running marathons during any point of their pregnancy. I’m a 36yo elite runner/marathoner who, in the midst of my heaviest training cycle ever including a recent win at a 10-mile race, found out I was pregnant with my first kiddo. I will be right around 8 weeks along on marathon race day (one week from Sunday). The main problem is that my symptoms-nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and now tailbone soreness-have intensified over the past 2 weeks making it hard to get out the door for much of any training, let alone gearing up for 26.2. I have been given the green light to run but, like many, am concerned about many things. It will hard for me not to compete though have no qualms dropping out if I need to. Torn on whether I should continue with the marathon or drop down to the half marathon. The race won’t be hot, which should help. Any feedback much appreciated.

    Posted by Kim | October 12, 2012, 9:00 pm


  1. Pingback: 2010 in review: Runner’s Illustrated is Moving Forward « Runners Illustrated Blog - January 3, 2011

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