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I Ran a Half-Marathon in My 3rd Trimester

As a fitness blogger, I share most of my life online. So I was excited to be able to eat whatever I wanted without fearing the usual fat-shaming comments on my YouTube channel. Though I planned to indulge a little more, fitness was still going to be a huge part of my pregnancy, and I planned to document my journey over the next nine months. (For tips on how to build muscle and get strong, pick up Lift to Get Lean by Holly Perkins.) A week after finishing the Boston Marathon, I found out I was pregnant.

But when ClassPass asked me if I wanted to be a part of their blogger team for the Nike Women’s Half Marathon, I was torn. ClassPass had no idea I would be seven months pregnant at the time of the race, and I hadn’t planned to run into my third trimester. But with my midwife’s approval and advice from mommy blogs, I said yes. I love having something to train for and felt like documenting my journey might be helpful for other pregnant runners. If I could do it, great! If I failed, I was willing to accept defeat.

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So I was shocked when family friends of an older generation told me to stop running. There were also people on my YouTube channel that thought what I was doing was wrong. “What kind of child abuse is this?” one user asked. Another even went as far to say that they “wouldn’t feel bad if I had a miscarriage.” I knew running was not going to cause a miscarriage, but I did fear the chance something could still go wrong, and that people would blame me for my running. How would I deal with the guilt? Would I defend myself?

Their concern, or lack thereof, had no medical validity (in my case). I had plenty of energy, zero nausea, and was sleeping well. Best of all, my ultrasounds showed a healthy baby boy.

running pregnant Photograph courtesy of Sarah Dussault

That’s not to say training for a half-marathon during my pregnancy was easy. My longest training run was 11 miles, two weeks out from the race. Afterwards, my body felt like it had run a marathon. I couldn’t run longer than five or 10 minutes without stopping to pee, and my hips ached. I worried I was biting off more than I could chew. I planned to alternate walking and running the entire race, and if I was in pain at all, I would drop out.

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On race day, I ran without a competitive bone in my body—something I had never done before. I stopped at every bathroom and walked more than I wanted. I cried as I crossed the finish line around 2:35.

I was very happy to be done running while pregnant. And I didn’t run again until after I delivered my son, Tommy.

running pregnant Photograph courtesy of Sarah Dussault

 

Doing It All Again 
A few weeks before my due date, I was invited to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with GNC Live Well on May 1st. They wanted me to share my journey of getting back in shape on YouTube.

I said yes because I thought my journey might be helpful for other women looking to get back in shape after giving birth. But people on YouTube were very concerned about my bladder and warned me that I would lose my milk supply. These hadn’t been concerns, but of course, now they were. I mainly worried about finding time to run.

I returned to running six weeks postpartum and was shocked by how painful my breasts were and how awkward it felt “down there.” However, with a good bra and time, those issues went away rather quickly.

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But the training was stressful. I was able to run on the weekends, but that was it. Early morning runs were out of the question due to my lack of sleep, and so were after work runs because I was exhausted. I would pump before my sleep-deprived training runs, and I’d often get back to a crying, hungry baby who refused a bottle. My longest training run was only 8.5 miles. But I was also spinning twice a week for 45 minutes, and I knew it was enough to at least finish.

While the weather was rainy and Tommy hardly slept the night before, race day went perfectly (despite the fact that I forgot to set my alarm). It was easier than the pregnant half marathon and faster by 30 minutes! My boobs felt fine and I didn’t have any bladder issues along the course. I finished just under 2:10.

RELATED: 18 Things Nobody Tells You About Running a Half-Marathon with Your S.O.

pittsburgh finisherPhotograph courtesy of Sarah Dussault

Was It Worth It?
Would I run a half marathon during my third trimester again? Probably not. It took the fun out of running for me, and it wasn’t comfortable come race day. I love to exercise and was happy on a spin bike. I didn’t need to run 13.1 miles to say I had a fit pregnancy. But I did it, and it can be done safely.

Would I run another half marathon 3.5 months after giving birth? Nah. I loved running postpartum, but after six miles, I was ready to go home, shower, eat, and cuddle with my baby. The half marathon was too long, but I would happily do a pair of 10Ks next time around.

That being said, Tommy is a healthy, big boy, and I really think my habits contributed to my being able to get back in shape so quickly. I ran both races to prove that, with your doctor’s permission, it’s not only healthy for you, but also your baby, to exercise during pregnancy.

Sarah Dussault is an ACSM-certified personal trainer. You can learn more about her on her blog, SarahFit.com, or by watching her YouTube channel

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