The third trimester was most definitely the most challenging segment of pregnancy, not surprisingly. I continued running, biking, swimming and strength training as my body would allow. I also continued to race. At 31 weeks, I traveled to Denver for a work conference, and had a major running setback. My ankles and feet had been progressively swelling, and this trip set them over the top. I drove with a group of students to the conference- about 12 hours in the car, then while at the conference for four days I spent the majority of my time on my feet. I could not get the swelling down. This caused some major pain in my left shin, and left me unable to run. I took 8 days off from running, and spent a lot of time in the pool. The swelling eventually went down, and after about 10 days, I was able to start conservatively doing some run/ walk intervals. I was bound and determined to make it to the end of the pregnancy still exercising- whatever that meant. Biking also became more and more uncomfortable as my belly got bigger and bigger. My husband had raised up the handle bars on my gravel bike, but the biking position resulted in more frequent Braxton Hicks contractions as Baby B continued to grow.
June 23rd (35 weeks) was my last bike ride of the pregnancy. Luckily by then, I was still able to swim for 60 minutes, and was up to around 50 minutes of walk/ jogging intervals. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, my husband and I enjoyed camping at a few places new to us not too far from home. We were able to hit some new trails for walk/ jog intervals with our dogs. By this point, I was getting more Braxon- Hicks contractions while running also. This is when we would take our walk intervals! In my last week of pregnancy, Baby B had moved way down in the birth canal, and was sitting at Station Zero, and 70% effaced. I continued to run. I began having some posterior hip pain in my last week, as the stretching of my hips and the pressure of baby’s head created more tension in my hips than what I was accustomed to. I did continue to do lots of mobility and strengthening for my hips, particularly in my last month of pregnancy. An example strength workout is listed below. Because I was so close to giving birth, I made the stupid decision to keep running through the mild hip pain, as I was sure that giving birth would somehow cure all my aches and pains! On Saturday, July 22nd, my husband and I started our day with a 56 minute walk/ jog with the dogs. At 1:35am Sunday morning, my water broke, and we headed to the hospital!
I am extremely proud that I was able to work out up until the last day of pregnancy, but it was certainly not easy. A few lessons I’ve learned through this process:
Aches and pains are not to be taken lightly. This is coming from an individual who is resilient and extremely consistent with exercise. I don’t usually get injured! You are carrying 25+ extra pounds, which means extra wear and tear on your joints. It is more important than ever to take these pains seriously. The hormonal changes in your body have a legitimate impact on joint mobility.
Patience is a virtue. I do not have that virtue. Not running is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deprive myself of. I am completely addicted to it. Running is a HUGE part of who I am, and having it taken away can be extremely difficult. Thus, I’ve tried to be grateful for what I am able to do, and am very much looking forward to running again, pain free- no matter how fast or how slow!
Fitness goals, and following a rigid fitness plan (my normal life) are out the window during pregnancy. It’s important to “go with the flow,” and know when to throw in the towel for the day when something doesn’t feel good. This was extremely difficult for me! Hopefully now I will have a greater sense of body awareness when things are not feeling good!
You are building a baby! Be patient, and don’t be so hard on yourself! Your main goal is developing a healthy child, and this should be your only focus, not how slow you are now, or how much weight you’ve gained.
Baby B was born on Sunday, July 23rd (one week early). Before his birth, he was able to complete 1,106 miles of running, 1,052 miles of biking, and 149,350 meters – or 93 miles of swimming. He also competed in 19 races, primarily 5k runs, but also a sprint triathlon. I am extremely grateful for having an “easy” pregnancy, and was able to mostly continue doing all the things I love- up until the day before he was born. Stay tuned for my next blog- the fourth trimester- returning to fitness!
Third trimester strength training sample workout:
Walking lunges 3x10
Monster Walks forward & backward with band 16 each x3
Lateral walks with band 15 each side x3
Front & Lateral shoulder raises 15x3
Cable decline chest press 4x12
Banded straight arm pulldowns 4x20
Squat with single arm Arnold press 10 each side x4
TRX triceps extension 10x4
Dumbbell bent over row 12x4
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