24-Week Checkin: Lessons from Running in the Second Trimester

24 weeks, 24 weeks!  In just a few short weeks, I will be into my third trimester.  Major time warp.  Here are some things I've noticed so far.

Spring social run with my track club.  My friend Jessica is helpfully gesturing toward my belly.

1.  Warm up time.

It takes me a lot longer to warm up now.  By this, I mean it takes me longer than usual to get a stable heart rate and that comfortable feeling that I've settled in to the workout.  Before, I would feel relaxed and ready to work sometime within the first mile, or maybe even immediately, depending on how fresh my legs were.  Now, it can take as long as two miles or even a full 30 minutes of running.

What's causing this?  Not sure.  Pregnancy causes higher levels of fatigue and slower recovery times (more on that later), so maybe I'm just dragging a bit.  Pregnancy also does weird things to heart rate, so it could be that.   

2.  Heart rate recovery time.

Another "hmmm that's interesting" thing I've noticed is an extremely quick recovery to a resting heart rate after a workout is over (or between intervals).  Weirdly, this is usually something that happens as you increase fitness.  Definitely not the case for me right now.  But usually within a minute of stopping a workout or interval, my heart rate will drop back down into the double digits and stay there.  I'm taking advantage of this and doing more interval workouts, especially on the bike trainer.

Probably my last run in tights for this year :(

3.  Overall recovery time.

This one isn't so great.  It now takes me much, much longer to recover from a hard workout.  The "lead in my legs" feeling just lasts longer than it did before.  This makes sense, because my body is working hard to make a human being, not build new muscle fibers.  I'm learning to respect the fatigue and be gentle with myself if I need extra rest.   

4.  Shoe wear.

Being pregnant makes your shoes wear out faster.  I haven't figured this one out yet.  I'm heavier, my stride causes me to drag my feet a bit more, my push off is weak...all possible reasons why my shoes are only lasting 250ish mile now.  I delayed on replacing a pair early last week, and I could definitely feel it.  Never again.

5.  Weight and hills.

On that note, I'm finally to the point that I feel the extra weight on climbs.  Especially on softer surfaces and trails.  I hope this is making me stronger! 

A photo to memorialize the rainbow shorts.  They were nice while they lasted.

6.  "Maternity" clothes for runners.

What a joke.  Everything is cotton, bulky, and too warm for hard exercise in a hot climate.  I could have my choice of cute maternity capris, except it is TOO HOT here to run in capris except maybe once or twice a year.  I only wore tights three times this winter.  Maternity running shorts are obviously not designed with serious running in mind, as they are all cotton blends that chafe and ride up.  Maternity tanks are also predominantly cotton and cut very modestly, so they chafe under my arms and across my chest.

Don't even get me started on the complete unavailability of maternity biking shorts.  Of any kind.

For now, I am still wearing my normal Athleta Fast Track shorts, just pulled down low in the front.  Luckily, I carry high.  But I don't know how long this is going to work.  I'm considering buying a larger size of just nylon soccer shorts with elastic waists and folding them down once I'm truly huge and the weather is even hotter.

My running shirts are a mixture of larger sized tanks and the one maternity tank that Old Navy makes in all-synthetic fabric.  I always run shirtless in mid summer, and I suppose I'll just switch to that once it's hotter.  I know I'll get some stares, but at least I'll get some sun on my belly, right?!

For bike shorts, I found a pair of Pearl Izumi tri shorts that have a V-shaped waistband in the front.  They are working with my bump.  For now.  I can't imagine switching to something without a chamois in order to purchase a legit "maternity" style, because...OW.  Nope.

7.  Boobs.

Seriously.  WTF.  I could probably write a novel about my search for running bras.  Let me just say, I have nothing but sympathy and respect for the women who deal with this problem every day of their lives.  Sports bras north of DD territory are uncomfortable, difficult to put on, even more difficult to remove, expensive, and not adjustable.  I've found some solutions but nothing that isn't frustrating and depressing each time I get dressed.

That's about it.  As of today, I've run 400 miles while pregnant.  I'm averaging 25 miles per week now, with a ten-mile long run each Saturday.  I'm focusing on strength and injury prevention, and using both running and cross training to keep my cardiovascular fitness.  Every day is a gift.

Have a great week!