Last weekend, I ran my 4th timed race of the pregnancy – the Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K. While I ran this race two other times before, this year’s experience was much different from previous years.
As each week progresses in the pregnancy, my speed decreases. I am very careful and always monitoring my heart rate and feel and as soon as I feel like anything is too strenuous I pull back. While I ran three other races prior to this one, all of those experiences are very different as they were earlier in the pregnancy.
While I am not a doctor (and be sure to consult with your doctor before engaging in any activity during pregnancy), I compiled some helpful pointers to make any race experience during pregnancy more successful:
—Do not focus on time. This is not the time to set a new PR but rather a time to enjoy the run.
—Eat a fairly sized breakfast about 2 hours before the run regardless of distance. I used to eat a much smaller breakfast before races but now I am very careful to make sure I eat something more substantial.
—Carry fuel with you even if it is a short race. For this 5K, I carried a Honey Stinger Chocolate Waffle with me just in case I got hungry before, during, or after the race.
—Don’t be afraid to grab water at the water stations even if it is within the first mile of a 5K. Staying hydrated is much more important!
—Do not start the race in your normal or assigned corral (based on previous times). I took my time getting to the start line of this race. It was very crowded and I was not afraid to start in one of the very last corrals. I did not want to feel the pressure of others going faster than me and I also didn’t want to be a bottleneck for those who were running faster than I was.
—Dress more warmly than usual. Depending on the weather on race day, dress more warmly than you would used to pre-pregnancy. While your body temperature is more elevated during pregnancy, you will be running slower and as a result out on the course longer. It’s important to be prepared for the elements and worst case is you can shed layers.
—Do not be afraid to walk or stop. There is no shame in walking or stopping EVER, before, during, or after pregnancy! It’s an accomplishment to be out there.
—Meet up with friends. If you have other friends running the race, meet up with them before and/or after the race. It’s a great way to make the race feel more social but they’re also amazing cheerleaders!
—Make sure emergency contact information is on you at all times. Whether you write emergency contact information on the back of your bib, wear a Road ID, or carry ID and phone with you, it is important to have at least one or two of these handy in case something were to happen. I have a Road ID on my shoe and always my phone and ID on me during all races.
—Enjoy the experience. This course was hilly and in the past, I cursed every hill and did not appreciate the scenery. This year, I slowly trucked up the hills and enjoyed the hillier parts by The Cloisters and Fort Tyron Park.
There will always be good days and bad ones but I am very thankful for the days that I am able to get out there and exercise. Be proud of your accomplishments and even if the distance and time is much shorter and slower than you expect, your body, mind, and baby will thank you for just getting out there!