We all know that pregnancy does not mean the end of your running career: but it needn’t mean a long pause either. Sophie Power tells us how to train sensibly during each trimester
During the first trimester, you are likely to feel symptoms of tiredness and nausea, as well as breathlessness, according to Emma Brockwell, specialist pelvic health physio and author of Why Did No-One Tell Me?.
How to adapt your running and exercise
“You might want to shorten the distance and intensity of runs, but don’t stop if they are still comfortable,” says Emma. “Your body is going through very dramatic change so you need to include strength and conditioning work, which will help you remain active throughout pregnancy.”
Strength work throughout pregnancy should focus on stabilising the pelvis, as well as the abdominal wall, arms and back. “As a mum, you need to be strong to accommodate the demands of motherhood – which includes a lot of lifting!” says Emma. She recommends seeing a pre-natal qualified personal trainer to ensure exercises adapt as you go through pregnancy. You may also find you need to pee more often – I used to run laps of a park so I was never more than a mile from a toilet!
If you haven’t been doing pelvic floor exercises, now is the time to start. Your pelvic floor is a layer of muscle across the base of your pelvis that protects your pelvic organs. When you’re pregnant, the weight of your baby sits on this muscle and stretches it, and high-impact activities such as running add additional strain. Keeping your pelvic floor strong is important to prevent dysfunction, e.g. leaking, during pregnancy and to improve recovery afterwards. If you are unsure of how to do your pelvic floor exercises, see a pelvic health physio.
First trimester training kit
Having a baby can be an expensive affair, so anything we purchase for ourselves needs to work for our entire pregnancies, and hopefully beyond, to make it worthwhile. During my first pregnancy in 2014, there was very little on the market. Thankfully, this has changed due to entrepreneurs like Nathalie Ward, who founded her company Latched in 2018, when she could not find clothing to train and breastfeed in. The kit I’m recommending here is what really worked for me during my three pregnancies and the early years of motherhood.
This chest strap provides a real-time accurate heart-rate measurement, which is helpful during pregnancy to ensure you’re training at the right intensity. When linked with a Garmin watch, you get real-time running dynamics data, which can help you pick up the pace after baby comes.
Latched Nursing Sports Bra
With hidden breastfeeding clips, this just looks like a stylish sports bra. The padded inserts give extra protection and the bra extenders mean it can grow (and shrink again) with your ribcage. I love the marble print (it also comes in black leopard print too) and the ability to make it a crossback, which gave enough support for me to run in (I’m a 32-34D). I’ll be wearing mine long after I stop breastfeeding.
Sweaty Betty seamless athlete gym vest
This versatile vest is made in a fitted style in a longer length. It happily stretched to cover my bump as it grew and did not ride up at all. The vest is great for layering and it’s sweat wicking, so handy for harder workouts or summer running. There are so many colours to choose from, it’s likely to be a mainstay of your wardrobe through pregnancy and beyond.
About the author
Sophie is an ultrarunner and mother of three. In 2018, a picture of her breastfeeding her three-month-old son during the 106-mile UTMB mountain race went viral around the world. Since then she has become a passionate advocate for women in sport.
Sophie recently released a short documentary following her third pregnancy and return to running afterwards. Pregnancy to Performance can be found on the Hoka One One YouTube channel. She also wrote a full account of her pregnancy training which can be found on sophiepower.com/blog and on Instagram @ultra_sophie