Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Felt Like I Just Got Out of Jail

Phew! Between working long hours (two twelve-hour shifts this weekend, boo!), the dark and the cold, I've been doing waaayy too many treadmill runs lately. They are just so doggone boring! And uncomfortable! Something about the way my gait is different on the treadmill, I feel a lot more "pregnancy niggles" than I do outside. But yesterday, I was let loose!! I left work a bit early so I could run outside before sunset and it was WONDERFUL!

I initially planned to run three miles yesterday but the nice cool air and just being OUTSIDE made me not want to stop and I ended up running 4.5. As much as I run and often (though definitely not always) enjoy running, I'm not one to ever run more than planned. It's just a testament to how cooped up I've felt and how I really need to run more mileage than I have been lately.

As you can see from my Daily Mile year end summary there was a steep drop off in miles over the past few months. I am a happy, healthier, more energetic person when I'm running ~100 miles a month. For many marathoners 100 a month is low mileage, but for me, a base of 100 miles with biking, swimming and other activities layered on top is perfect. I need to inch closer to that ~25 miles/week number before I re-inch back down when I get closer to my due date.

In other exercise news, I went to my "fit test" with my new prenatal trainer today. I'm pretty sure I'm the only pregnant lady at my big box gym on Michigan Avenue, so my husband was awesome enough to find a gym program up north that caters to prenatal and postnatal women. First off, my trainer seems great and I'm excited to start small group training classes (just 3-4 women at a time). If I don't get enough DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness) in the group setting, I might opt for some individual sessions. We'll see. At the fit test, after a few minutes of asking what kind of exercise I've been doing pre-pregnancy and lately, my trainer actually apologized for even doing the functional assessment because clearly I'm plenty fit! That was nice to hear but I couldn't help but state how far I've deteriorated in the past few months- my strength at this point is a joke! But that should start to improve soon!

Lots of people like to talk about pregnancy being a time to "maintain, not gain" in terms of fitness. I think this is just one more line that gives folks an excuse to not work very hard. Like people who say "taking the stairs" is enough exercise or who believe you can call an activity "exercise" if you don't break a sweat, become short of breath, or get sore. Of course, one has to be reasonable and cautious (and there are tons of exceptions- people with medical problems related to their pregnancy, of course fall in a different category). I've been paying close attention to the various "pelvic sensations" I have during normal daily activity (kicks, which I'm feeling intermittently which is pretty cool, btw), mild not-quite-pain that I perceive as round ligament stretching/inflammation, the mildest back pain (barely pain, super mild soreness is a better description) and various other feelings NOS (medical term for "not otherwise specified"). If I have the same sensations while running (....or swimming....or biking) I figure I'm fine. If something is different or more persistent, I figure I should slow down or stop. And I've been generally following the advice of always not working so hard that I couldn't have a conversation. I allow myself to work a bit harder for short stints but never do I get nearly as short of breath as I usually would during, say, a speed work interval pre-pregnancy.

I will admit that when I'm physically tired (like today), I'm not forcing myself to work out. On days like today, where I'm sleepy and all I want to do is sit on the couch, I do back off. But not to sitting on the couch entirely. Rather, I run my daily mile (which is as much a part of my daily life as brushing my teeth or taking a shower) or if I'm feeling like I could do a little more I implement my newest back-up plan- treadmill hill walking. Cardio wise, this can be harder than running. But somehow mentally easier.

Days like yesterday's run (and last week's 10 miler) where I feel great tell me I'm doing everything right. I'm not overdoing it. I'm probably undergoing it. And I fully plan to gain strength as I go into my last three months. Arm strength, ab strength, leg strength. I likely can't gain speed (due to the rule of conversation) or endurance (I'm probably down to half marathons mostly because of the time of year), but I can gain strength. And I can work on my diet. I may be the only pregnant woman in the history of time to eat less during pregnancy than prior, but given how much I've decreased my calorie burn, I have to! (And don't worry ya'll, I've gained the requisite amount of weight- on the very lower end, but the docs say I'm just fine.) So since I'm eating less, I need to ensure that the calories I put in are high yield. Strength gains, diet gains. This is how I will improve my body even as I get bigger.....and bigger....and bigger over time:)

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