- Running is amazing, it's official
There are so many fantastic benefits to running and walking in pregnancy. Yet there is so much confusing information out there about what you should (and shouldn't) be doing.
And sometimes that's enough to put us off doing anything more active than the odd yoga class.
So we're on a mission! To dispel the myths and give you easy to follow tips and trimester based programmes that give you the confidence to keep moving throughout your pregnancy.
For starters, here are a just a few of the brilliant benefits of running and walking in pregnancy:
- Reduced risk of varicose veins
- Keeping excessive weight gain in check
- Lowered risk of pre eclampsia
- Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
- Speeded up recovery time post birth.
Pretty good, right?
Add in the many mental and emotional benefits - headspace, thinking time, a chance to breathe and reconnect with your body at a time of massive change - and it's hard to imagine not giving it a go.
Read on to find the right programme for you.
- Meet Mel
Running Coach and Mum of Two
“I am passionate about empowering women to stay active throughout pregnancy & beyond. I love seeing women gain confidence in their bodies and stay well emotionally by getting outdoors & active”
Mel Bound is a Mum of Two, running coach and founder of multi award-winning running community, This Mum Runs.
She has coached thousands of Mums to start and continue running and has a drawer full of qualifications that include:
- Degree in Sports and Exercise Science (University of Birmingham)
- England Athletics Coach in Running Fitness
- Running School Running Technique Specialist.
- Qualified Fitness Instructor and Exercise to Music
- Kit Stop
The beauty of running is it’s simplicity - you can just get your trainers on, get out the door and go.
In pregnancy it’s important to consider support and comfort so here is a list of the basics you might need;
- A decent pair of trainers. In pregnancy, if you’re taking part in any load-bearing exercise such as running or walking, a pair of cushioned trainers will help prevent injury. Pop to your local running shop and they will find you a pair tailored to how you walk or run.
- A supportive, non-wired sports bra. Enough said.
- Loose, comfortable layers that you can take off once you get going.
Find your Level
The important thing about running in pregnancy is to find the right level for you. This is partly about what you have done before pregnancy but also how you are feeling, which could differ from day to day.
If you have never run before, now is probably not the time to start but regular walking brings great benefits too. By building up the time and pace, you can add plenty of variety.
For more regular runners, steady exercise rather than high intensity activity is key; avoid focusing on PBs or heavy hill sessions, but instead follow our programme of steady paced runs.
To help you plan your activity, we have developed programmes for each trimester based on three levels of experience:
I’ve never run before or I ran a bit before pregnancy - once/twice a week or less, up to 30 minutes at a time.
I ran regularly - at least twice a week, for between 30 minutes and an hour - for at least three months before pregnancy.
I ran regularly - at least twice a week, a range of sessions and between 30 and 90 minutes at a time- for at least six months before pregnancy.
- FREE pregnancy running programmeTrimester based programmes to suit every ability
It goes without saying that safety always comes first.
Talk through what you plan to do with your midwife and discuss any conditions which may affect the sorts of exercise that are suited to you.
If you experience pain, fever, bleeding, dizziness, faintness, pubic pain, persistent headache, sudden swelling, difficulty walking, lack of normal foetal movement or an abnormally rapid heartbeat - stop and seek immediate medical advice.
Listen to Your Body
It usually tells you what it needs
There will be days when you feel tired and that is totally normal. On those days, rest, head out for a walk or do a gentle session rather than pushing yourself to exercise when you don't really feel like it.
Incorporate rest days between sessions too to give your body the opportunity to recover.
Your body is changing
During pregnancy, your body produces the hormone relaxin to prepare you for labour. It can make your tendons and ligaments more stretchy, and so more prone to injury.
In addition, the pregnancy hormone progesterone can make you feel more out of breath, so listen to your body and slow down or walk if you need to.
Pelvic Girdle Pain
If you experience chronic pain in your hips and pelvis during pregnancy (Pelvic Girdle Pain), running might make it worse. Speak to your midwife about other types of activity that may suit you better.
Aim to eat a carb rich snack or light meal - such as toast, porridge or a banana - one to two hours before you run. If you’re suffering with morning sickness or hyperemesis gravidarum, rest or stick to walking until you’re able to eat normally.
Staying well hydrated is really important, especially in warmer weather. Drink plenty of water regularly throughout the day, and take small sips of water during any activity.