Running for Two - Page 3
"There is no magic heart rate number for normal healthy people," says Chapman-Stern. "We all start at different rates and there can be a 30-beat difference from one woman to the next." Most experts now agree that "perceived effort" is the key factor. In other words: How do you feel? If it's a hot day, run less. If you're going uphill and feeling overheated, you may want to slow down.
Rocks and Rolls
What if you trip? A pregnant woman's center of gravity shifts upward, from her hip area to her abdomen. Boere advises paying close attention to changes in your balance, especially if you're a trail runner, but, like many effects of pregnancy, this one is very individual and may not be a problem for you. Livingston, who also teaches yoga, says she monitored herself carefully during yoga poses to keep abreast of any changes in balance and did not notice any. However, roots and rocks on the trail may be harder to see when you have a large belly in your field of vision.
Common sense dictates that you should choose relatively safe routes, pay attention and slow down if you have any concerns about the terrain. Although you obviously do not want to fall while carrying a baby, Livingston points out that it's very rare to fall smack on your belly, pregnant or not. "When you start to lose your balance, you usually tuck and roll," she says. Not a pleasant idea, but not usually a serious threat to either of you.
Of course, certain health conditions would preclude running. Anyone with preeclampsia, placenta previa (the positioning of the placenta in a way which blocks the cervix), heart disease, lung disease, persistent bleeding in the second or third trimester or ruptured membranes should not run while pregnant, and seek expert medical advice about any exercise plan. In addition, if you feel pain or persistent discomfort while running, you may be running too much, too fast or too late in your term.
That's What Trees Are For
One of the biggest sources of discomfort, mentioned by nearly all pregnant runners, is the need for much more frequent urination. "There's quite a lot of weight pressing on the uterus," says Chapman-Stern, who advocates ample hydration in spite of the inconvenience. "And the bladder is right there. When I was going through my own pregnancy, I knew every bush in Central Park." To Livingston, that's one more reason to be a trail runner: "There are plenty of bushes to hide behind."