Pregnant Marathon Training Tips: Expecting Runners

Pregnant Marathon Training Tips: Expecting Runners

Spoiler alert…this post is NOT about running 26.2 miles all at once when you are pregnant!  I’m a believer in the everything in moderation thinking during pregnancy, so I will likely never run a marathon when I am expecting.
This past weekend, I ran the 26.2 miles over the course of 3 days.  Yes, I know I didn’t actually run a marathon by technical terms, but this is the closest I will likely get to running a marathon for the next 6-7 months!
One of the things I miss most about running when I am pregnant is the challenge…During pregnancy #1, I didn’t have any measurable goals for myself.  Yes, I wanted to stay healthy and active and run as far into pregnancy as I could, but there were no day-to-day or week-to-week goals.  I would run however far I felt up to running.  While this is definitely a great way to go about running during pregnancy, I found it boring and for months, felt like something was missing.  I missed the excitement of having a goal, having something to strive for, and then the euphoric feeling afterwards of achieving that goal.
Now that I’m pregnant with baby #2, I promised myself I would have a few specific goals and challenges along the way to aim for.  This weekend’s challenge was to run a marathon (I didn’t actually plan for this challenge until I was in the middle of Friday’s run).
My target race this spring was supposed to be the NJ Marathon (held this past weekend).  Although my goal for the NJ Marathon was sub-3:10, I was training (and hitting the times) for a 3:05 marathon.  When I was seven weeks into training, I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 and immediately knew that the NJ Marathon would be a race I deferred until 2013.
Although I could NOT be happier that our family of three will soon add a fourth member, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have periods of moping around, feeling sad and depressed, and wishing I was running the marathon at multiple points last week.
I had a wonderful 10 mile run on Friday morning – I ran to the Staten Island boardwalk, logged a few miles along the water, then ran into Fort Wadsworth, under the Verrazano Bridge, and finished the loop with some hill repeats (Fort Wadsworth has some killer hills!) before making my way home.
On the run back to our apartment, I realized I was finishing up 10 miles.  My mind started scheming and planning.  If I ran 16 miles on Saturday, I would only need .2 additional miles to run 26.2 miles in two days (Note: I had run 14 miles the previous Saturday so was already throwing around the idea of 16 this past weekend).  What better way to celebrate what should have been my marathon weekend!!
I woke up Saturday morning happy and excited.  It felt like a big training day, even kind of like a race day!  The early hours were spent fueling and hydrating properly.  The first couple of miles on Saturday were tough – my legs felt tired and I was having a hard time maintaining a 9 min/mile pace.  I hadn’t run back-to-back double-digit days since January.   I let my body decide the pace while giving it more time to warm up.  When mile 3 buzzed, I was surprised to see I had run an 8:26 mile.  For the next few miles, I settled into a comfortable pace hovering around 8:25.  I felt great.  I felt like a runner again.  There were even periods of the run I forgot I was 20 weeks pregnant.
Although my legs were getting tired, my heart rate and breathing stayed under control.  I slowed down a bit but was still hoping to complete the 16.2 miles – until I reached mile 11.  My belly started not feeling right – it wasn’t painful, but there was more pressure than I am comfortable running with.  I stopped, stretched and walked a few minutes before trying to run again – but the pressure was still there.  As much as I wanted to run the marathon distance in two days, I decided to play it safe and give the remaining distance (~5.2 miles) a try on Sunday.  Pregnancy is NOT the time to be a hero.  Since I was about 3 miles from home, I called my husband to come pick me up. (Note – this is  why I ALWAYS run with a cell phone when I’m pregnant!)
I headed out for the remaining 5.2 miles early Sunday morning.  Although my legs felt okay earlier in the day, they felt like dead weight once I started running.
But you know what?  Running on sore, tired legs is one of my favorite things in the world.  I LOVE going on a short four or five miler the day after a long, hard run… feeling your sore muscles with every stride…knowing that it’s because you put in the time and mileage to make them tired.  Maybe I’m a glutton for pain, but these runs have always been enjoyable for me.  And they make me a stronger runner, especially during the final miles in a marathon.  I haven’t had a run like this since January.
I was tired, my pace was slow, but I was challenging myself and knew I would achieve my goal (Note: although my legs were tired, my breathing was relaxed and my heart rate was under control the whole run).  I live for this type of challenge….this is what I love about running
Just because you are pregnant does not mean you have to stop making running goals for yourself.  Maybe it means you aim to run a certain distance one day, or log a specific number of miles each week, or just run a fun distance over a period of a few days.  As long as you listen to your body (first and foremost) and know when to stop, having a goal puts the joy and excitement back into running (or doing anything active). You can still have fun and enjoy running when you are pregnant.
Stats from the weekend
Friday’s 10 mile run
Total Time: 1:26:00 (roughly)
Pace: 8:35
Saturday’s 11 mile run
Mile 1: 9:09
Mile 2: 8:51
Mile 3: 8:26
Mile 4: 8:24
Mile 5: 8:27
Mile 6: 8:29
Mile 7: 8:37
Mile 8: 8:40
Mile 9: 8:37
Mile 10: 8:38
Mile 11: 8:35
Total Time: 1:34:52
Pace: 8: 37
Sunday’s 5.2 mile run
Total Time: 47:00 (roughly)
Pace: 9:02
Total Time: :3:47:52
Pace: 8:41

That concludes our pregnant marathon training tips guide for expecting mother runners! Train carefully fellow moms!

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