This Runner's Trials

Accepting my new limits

I think most women fantasize what it will feel like to be pregnant. Even though I honestly never thought pregnancy would happen to me (because of infertility), I still let my mind wander sometimes.

I'd hear of women having strong aversions to vegetables in the first trimester. Ha, that wouldn't be me. I knew how important nutrition during pregnancy was (source). I'd shove down the veggies no matter what and would steer clear of anything unhealthy.

I'd hear others say how much pregnancy has slowed them down, and forced them to stop exercising in some cases. No way I'd let that happen to me! I knew pregnancy reduces your lung capacity, increases your blood volume, loosens your joints, and throws off your balance (source). Still, I was an athlete. I doubted these physiological changes would slow me down that much.

Then, the miracle happened.


I'll never forget what it felt like to walk the aisles of the grocery store at 8 weeks pregnant. I stared at the shelves and sobbed. I couldn't put anything in my cart because nothing looked remotely appealing. I felt like I was failing my child, and I knew there was nothing I could do about it.


Bagels was it for weeks.

My appetite and hunger for healthy foods (minus spinach and bananas) returned as soon as the first trimester ended. I now feel like I'm eating as well as I can.

Exercise has been another story. At first, my doctor asked me not to run for a few weeks. Until week 7, I was content just walking.

Then I got antsy. My first run back felt so good on my pregnant body. As I got back into shape, I feel into a routine: 4 short, easy, enjoyable runs per week. I foolishly thought it would stay this way until 30+ weeks.


I mean, why wouldn't it? I've been a distance runner for a long time. I'm used to putting my body through grueling challenges. I'm not afraid of discomfort. I knew some women can keep running until their due dates. Why couldn't I be one of them?


Unfortunately, pregnancy is one of those things where you never know what to expect. Until you go through it yourself, you really have no clue how it feels. What's more, every pregnancy is so different. Even if you fully grasp someone's experience, it may not apply to you at all.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to have abdominal pain while running. I learned during a race that the pain does not flare up when I run really slowly.

I'm also noticing a change in swimming (which I did twice this weekend!). Swimming still feels really good, and I have zero pain. But I can tell my pace has slowed a lot and breaks are needed early and often. Swimming also takes a lot out of me. I don't feel like I need a nap post-run, but post-swim is another story.

I'm going to continue to run and swim slowly for as long as I can. I know backing off is for the best reason in the world, but it's hard realizing you're not superwoman. After challenging myself for years, going slowly feels weird. I used to be so proud of my workouts, but now they feel so normal.

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But all I wished and prayed for- for well over a year- was to be normal. I wanted normal ovaries. I wanted to get pregnant like a normal woman. And even though slowing down is hard to swallow for a type A, competitive athlete, normal never felt so good :)

Comments (21) Trackbacks (2)
  1. Such a great post! While I was never the athlete you are, I still had the hopes you did. I too lived on bagels that first trimester and had to give up working out in the second. It’s frustrating, but worth it. You’ll be back at it before you know it!

  2. I think you are doing great! And you are right, every pregnancy is so different and affects everyone so differently. I remember being winded walking up a short flight of 8 stairs and thinking… what the heck, how is it even possible that this is kicking my butt?! Growing a human takes a lot outta ya! :)

  3. I was one of those people who suffered from loose joints. Like, really loose. Walking down the hall, sometimes I would suddenly feel as though my hip was dislocating. It hurt, and it was scary. I exercised as much as I could, but if I was on the elliptical or swimming and felt a joint acting funny, I had to stop, and that happened often. I gained weight, got out of shape, etc. But I look at my little boy and realize I did the right thing by listening to my body. It’s hard, but like you said, it’s exactly what you know you need to do.

  4. Oh, I so feel you on this. First, though, I must say you’re already being an inspirational pregnant lady! But I also remember thinking women were exaggerating a bit when they said they couldn’t stomach vegetables… until darn bagels saved my life in the 1st tri, too.
    Now at 33 weeks, I’m waking up with my hips aching, having more trouble breathing and feeling exhausted way too often. I’m trying to hold off to 35-36 weeks to fully relax, but some days I have no choice but to except that I’m not superwoman either! Who knew? ;)

  5. Great post. You have addressed what SO many women go through with their first pregnancy, on one level or another! With my first I walked the entire pregnancy and did three miles the afternoon before I went in to be induced. With my second I had circulation problems and was told at 20 weeks that when I was not working or chasing my 18 month old I needed to be on the couch with my feet up. Both girls are happy and healthy and a blessing and b/c (I believe) of my overall fitness I bounced back well after both. Pregnancy is a good time to learn to let go of control and expectations b/c the little ones give you a crash corse in it as soon as they are born. Really enjoying your blog! Take Care. Molly

  6. I always thought the SAME thing and then ended up HATING veggies, loving sugarsugarsugar, and not being able to do workouts as well as I would have liked. I still found ways to adjust and remain active but it was hard not feeling like myself. I feel ya! But it certainly does teach us a lot about trusting our bodies, huh? :)

  7. (I’m going to try not to cry while replying since I’m at work – I hate pregnancy hormones!) This has been the hardest thing for me to realize recently. I really really REALLY want to be able to run up until I give birth, but I’m starting to realize that this probably isn’t going to happen. The fear that runs through my mind after every run is overwhelming – sure, I feel good running, but when it takes hours to feel my baby kick afterwards, I freak out slightly. Cutting back is hard, but it is definitely the best thing for you and you baby. I am also very Type A and very stubborn. It’s hard not to beat yourself up for not doing the things you really want to be doing while pregnant.

    I’m so glad you are “normal”! Watching a close friend of mine deal with infertility, it’s nice to hear a success story like yours. (Although it is hard NOT to say, “it’ll happen to you” when I know that’s the last thing in the world she wants to hear.) I love reading about your pregnancy journey because I feel like you are experiencing everything the way I have!

  8. Yet another great post that speaks entirely to what I’m going through. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone with this new feeling . . . and needing to accept the limits. I’d say we’re both doing great. :) Plus, it’s kind of nice to take a step back, at least that’s what I’m feeling!

  9. This so perfectly addresses what I went through at 25 weeks when I stopped running. It was just too painful. At first I beat myself up because I felt like I should have been able to run up until giving birth like so many other women (I’ve been running for about 14 years), but I now accept that this is temporary, I can still work out in other ways, and I’m making the most of that.

  10. I love this. And though I can’t speak from experience I have to tell you – what you are doing is not just “normal” and “ordinary.” It is amazing! Many woman do not have the same drive and determination as you do – whether it was getting pregnant or trying to keep up with their pre-pregnancy exercise routine. I have been so impressed by you through this whole process. I know you’ve had to adjust your expectations and I know that must be hard to do (I can’t even imagine, actually), but I hope that someday, when my time comes, I handle it as well as you do. And I am able to be a running-rock star through as much of my pregnancy as I can…just like you :)

  11. Agree with Lauren! You are amazing! And running so well while pregnant is just fabulous. I say listen to your body and enjoy the ride because you are so much more than normal- you are incredible : )

  12. Oh my goodness, I went swimming this weekend and could not believe how out of breath I was getting from doing laps. I had to hang up the running shoes at 26 weeks and so swimming is the alternative and it is tough!
    Loved reading this post. I can definitely relate :)

  13. Thank you! I’m 8 weeks today (still in the quiet zone, though we saw the wee HB last week), and living off bagels and chips. Unfortunately, my appetite is HUGE, and I feel sick if I don’t eat every hour. Combined with pregnancy rules about what to avoid, and the first trimester fatigue, I can’t imagine ever feeling healthy again, so it’s wonderful to see other women talking about the vege thing :)

  14. Jen I think you are doing an excellent job of balancing your athletic drive with your thankfulness for being pregnant. Certainly it’s not an easy one! And I bet the voices in your head are sometimes competing with one another. Yet you seem to have found ways to modify workouts and adjust expectations in a way that works really well for you. I bet it also helps to remember that after you give birth, it will be fun to push yourself as much as you want to get back to your former fitness level and take on new challenges!

  15. You are such a beautiful strong woman! I love your honesty and realism. Though I am far from ready for the “mom” scene, I am enjoying reading your journey. I think you are doing great and hope you can keep it up for as long as possibly can! Kudos to you for being honest with yourself and allowing your body to accept the process.

  16. Another wonderful post. Thanks for the inspiration.

  17. i love your honesty and your acceptance at the same time. i know it is hard but you are doing the right thing for your baby and you know it :) good for u!

  18. I just came across your blog. I am currently 9 weeks pregnant and trying to balance healthy eating, workouts and pregnancy. I look forward to reading more.

  19. i love the line about realizing your not superwoman. i’m amazed every day by your attitude towards pregnancy and your body!

  20. Way to see the positive and I love your glow and sure joy in this first picture on this post

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