You are pregnant, and you are set to run a marathon in the next few months. How should your training change? How will it affect your body? And how will it affect your baby?
The first consideration to make is: what is your body saying? Many changes happen to women’s bodies during pregnancy, some of which have side-effects. If you are feeling unwell or fatigued you might not even feel like getting out of bed – never mind going for a run. It is important to listen to what your body is telling you.
Marathons and motherhood
Whether this is your first pregnancy or your fifth, each pregnancy is unique. Above all it is important to be aware of what your baby needs. As you are caring – and running – for two now, you need to ask yourself why you want to run this marathon. If the answer is “because I have trained to”, “because I have already paid for it”, or “because it has been on my bucket list” then your second consideration should be: am I doing this for me, or me and my baby? It is not a matter of whether or not you can or cannot do it – many women are very successful when running marathons pregnant – but rather can you and your baby do it.
Changing your training to suit you and your baby
If you choose to continue with training for your marathon, or decide to skip this one, there are a few changes you will have to make to your training schedule. Your body has to work extra hard to properly support both of you. During pregnancy delivery of oxygen and nutrients takes a lot more energy than it usually would. Because of this you need to reduce your pace and level of effort.
Elite runners who run an average of 200km a week will cut down their training by 50% when they are running pregnant. While the reduction in pace may be frustrating, continuing to exercise while pregnant, even at a lighter effort level, keeps you and your baby happy and healthy. Just remember to rest well, stop running if you injure yourself, and keep listening to your body.
Delivery as the new finish line
If you decide to scrap the marathon, but still need a little motivation to keep training, set the delivery date as your new finish line. Becoming a mother is exceptionally exciting and it has been shown that exercising at a moderate to light pace during pregnancy makes the experience all the more beautiful. And, as an added bonus, running during pregnancy helps to manage pregnancy weight gain and is likely to reduce your pain during delivery.