Great Expectations

As a tutor on the Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course, I usually feel confident and qualified to answer the questions that come up during the discussions and, quite rightly, there is an expectation from those on the course that the tutors will be able to give sound advice on all things running. A few weeks ago, however, I was asked for guidelines on how running activity should be programmed whilst a woman is expecting and I had to confess that I would have to go away and do some research. And so I did and I thought this might be a good place to post:

I have gathered this information from various publications and, in particular, information that is posted on NHS choices.

According to the experts that have contributed to that site, you are more likely cope better with both pregnancy and giving birth if you are fit and active. Not only that but you will adapt better to your new shape and cope with the weight gain during pregnancy and, in addition, will get back to normal more easily afterwards.

Here are some top tips from there and other sources that should keep you and your baby safe and healthy. Additionally, however, you should consult your maternity team and keep them informed on the amount and type of running and other physical activity you are undertaking.


Turn down the volume

Stay consistent or below the volume of training that you are used to. This is not the time to increase your training load.


Take the talk test to keep a check on intensity

You may need to adapt your training if your regimen includes sessions of high intensity and this is certainly true the further into pregnancy you go. A good rule of thumb would be to keep your training more on the aerobic side rather than the anaerobic. How do you know if you have crossed into the anaerobic energy system? Take the talk test:

Chat in whole sentences…   aerobic energy system

Talk in phrases … aerobic/ anaerobic lactate

One word …anaerobic lactate/aerobic.


Structure your session

Always warm up before your session, always cool down afterwards, stay hydrated and refuel immediately afterwards.


Structure your week

Space your sessions equally through the week and make sure you have adequate recovery between each session.


Listen to and respect your body

There may be days (or weeks) when you have less energy. If you feel tired your body is telling you that it is time to rest and relax, if you feel tense your body is telling you to relax, if you feel stiff your body may be telling you that it is time to stretch out, if you feel warm or hot your body is telling you it is time to cool down. If you feel a twinge, cramp or pain your body is telling you to stop.  Listen to your body and respect what it is telling you to do.


Listen to a coach

Join a running group or club and check that the leader or coach is qualified. Tell him or her that you are pregnant and take advice.


Consider environmental conditions

Don’t take risks. Avoid running in extreme conditions including very hot or very cold weather and avoid trips or falls by staying on flat and even terrain.


Consider the surface

As your pregnancy progresses you may find that unforgiving tarmac is too much for your body. Consider taking up water running or ElliptiGO training that still gives you a good workout with less impact.


Incorporate ancillary exercises

You should incorporate ancillary exercises to strengthen the core muscles that will support good posture as you carry the increasing weight of your baby. It is important to work on posture so that you run smoothly. Exercises to keep the gluteal, abdominal and pelvic floor muscles in good shape will help with this as well as preparing you for pre and post birth. However, you should avoid lying flat on your back, particularly after 16 weeks, because your baby’s weight may press on the main blood vessel bringing blood back to your heart and this can make you feel faint.


For more information go to NHS choices here.