There is so much written about the magic of the second trimester. It was promised that the awful haze of exhaustion and nausea would lift to reveal your former self and life could continue as normal(ish) which luckily for me did happen, just a week or two later. By week 15 I was feeling much more spritely and almost like I wasn’t pregnant. The first scan was done and luckily showed a teeny tiny happy bean wriggling away so all that was left to do was get my head around that and crack on with enjoying a few months of mobility and child-free freedom.
Anticipating a more lively trimester, I set myself a few running goals; I wanted to run a race and I had the idea of “26 miles at 26 weeks” brewing in my head. I started to extend my long runs back up after a trim back during the later half of the first trimester, making sure I did so conservatively and well fuelled. As a note, even though my runs were longer I probably still consumed a similar amount of carbohydrates than I would normally in a longer run and I believe that focus on fuel is what has kept me feeling good and able to have some consistency. I have also avoided any fasted running – in my opinion, eating and then running fairly soon afterwards = good ultra fuelling prep….
I set my sights on the Mudcrew RAT 20 miler after a small negotiation with myself as I considered the 32 miler – reasoning being “well they have a 100km so the 50km is that step back”. Sense eventually overruled and I am glad I stuck to the 20 – a lot of the past few months have been learning that it’s different what I can do to what is the right thing to do. Just because I can physically run that far, doesn’t mean that now is the right time. The goal of this race was to enjoy being on a start line with other people after 18 months of COVID chaos and celebrate my body growing a person and still banging out some fun miles. For anyone keen to read about my RAT experience, there’s a separate little blog post about it.
Having structure back to my training helped mentally, having a longer run to set my sights on and feeling that running had a goal and a purpose that was more than simply getting out. I have found the mental adaptions required are much more difficult than any physical changes. I lose self-belief on a regular basis and cast judgements on myself that I would be horrified to hear about from any of the people I coach or running friends. I fell pregnant at a time where I felt strong and confident that I had not just running strength but had raced enough to start to put into play some of the key learnings and that it was time to push on and step up. Having to pause that momentum has been difficult to get my head around. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to become a mum but that desire to try to push my potential in running is still burning strong and it’s hard to keep the flames under control at times. My self-mantra has been that this journey will only make me stronger, it will change me for certain but I can only see it all as an asset because there is no going back!
During week 25 the next challenge to arrive was a holiday to Mallorca. Now a holiday isn’t a challenge, but the fact I wanted to maintain my running consistency in the heat definitely was. My efforts were conservative, I stayed not too far away from my accommodation and I took a water bottle with a 1500 Precision Hydration tab. One of the biggest warnings to pregnant runners is to avoid getting too hot or too dehydrated so my sole focus was to stick to the shade, take breaks before my breath caught up with me and never worry to call Dan to come get me if it wasn’t right. There were runs where my moving time was some of the slowest I have ever run on a pavement but that’s the pace that my required effort level dictated. Do not be afraid to give in to what your body says to make sure it’s still fun!
My final challenge of the second trimester was my “26km at 26 weeks challenge” – for those keen-eyed readers I had adapted it from my original scenario and it was no longer a 26 mile challenge but a 26 kilometre one. A metric marathon was much more sensible than an imperial one. Again, there is a whole blog on this for anyone keen to read it and maybe even take it on themselves. Read here.
So far, the most valuable things I’ve learned are:
- The value of the true easy effort.
This isn’t the “effort” you see on your watch when it tells you a pace is X less than your target pace, making it the “easy pace”. This is the pace at which I can breathe deeply, chat properly and finish every single run feeling like my tank is still loaded with gas.
- Self-judgement and comparisons get you nowhere.
I am not the person I was 6 months ago or the person I will be in 6 months. I am also not anyone else I see on the street or social media. Accepting my efforts as the right one for me on that day and rejoicing in that is the only positive voice.
- Just how important fuelling is and how much I love food.
Pre-pregnancy I would be excited to eat all the time and in the past few months I’ve lost that desire, however when I do eat I still love it and I am grateful for good food. I eat a similar amount to when I was running 30-40 miles a week more but that feels right for me. If you do continue to run during pregnancy, don’t listen to the “you aren’t eating for two” stuff they push on you. Eat as much as your body needs and wants – now is not the time to get that beach-body!
- Worrying about the future or the past is a waste of time and energy.
I have done a lot of self-talk to focus on how to avoid the fear of time and “what if’s” and I will keep having to talk myself down on a regular basis. Jealousy and fear of missing out can be a real thing when you want to toe a line or have big adventures but mine are still to come. I’m just waiting for my number one fan to arrive!