Over the holiday weekend, I ran my last run of this pregnancy. At 29 weeks (11 weeks to go!), I’ve made it into my 3rd trimester, and am now looking at the final stage of pregnancy. My daily “run” has had a growing walk:run ratio over the past month. On an unusually humid July morning, I ran uncomfortably: my lower spine felt “jammed” into itself and I felt tense throughout my torso/belly. After a couple miles of feeling achy and rather terrible (!) on the local trails, I decided the ‘fun’ factor was missing, and it was time to put running on the shelf until after this pregnancy.
The changes my body is experiencing seem to be accelerating. My visibly pregnant body now seems to be growing by the minute, stretching, flexing (hello Braxton-Hicks contractions!), and adjusting to holding a rapidly developing fetus. The awareness of these bodily changes may be enhanced by the strengthening activity of my baby: she wiggles, kicks, and rolls around at regular intervals throughout the day and night, demanding attention despite my engagement in thought, sleep, or activity.
As I spend this first running-free week looking ahead at the final stretch of pregnancy, I’m happy to be completely comfortable with not running for a long block of time. During my first pregnancy, I felt much more compelled to push myself through high(er)-intensity exercise than I do this time. Now, I feel lucky to have this break from running, and I look forward to the walking, hiking, light strength training, and swimming I continue to do. I feel as though I want to savor every day of this ‘pregnant pause’ from running, and I am able to enjoy and marvel at the work my body is doing without worrying about missing out on training.
I feel very confident in my ability to return to competitive running and racing, and thus quite calm about embracing both the radical physical changes and the change in daily activity. I take this time while I walk and hike at a slower pace to include my daughter more (she loves the stroller, and LOVES hiking), and to let my husband focus more on his desired activities, including rock climbing and hiking. The summer weather has meant that we have had opportunity for many early morning and evening family walks – something that usually get’s supplanted by my regular training sessions when I’m in full training mode.
One of my biggest worries during my first pregnancy was that having a young child would curtail my and my husbands’ very active lifestyles. Two weekends ago – with me a full 6 months pregnant – our family went backpacking. We went with another family with a 2 year old, and brought one of my dads’ horses to carry our gear (the luxury!). We had a blast! While the logistics of backpacking with small children and while pregnant are significantly more intricate than they would be with just adults, I felt the trip was a huge indicator that we will be able to raise our kids in a way that values physical activity and the out-of-doors.
Often on my daily walks, I get passed by runners from my local running team or the local high school cross country teams. As they flow by me, with seemingly zero effort and with an easy grace I only vaguely remember, I am hit by a jealous desire to be back in speedy running shape and out on the trails with them. However, I am confident I’ll be there next summer, and instead I enjoy my morning at a slightly slower pace.