The time has come…. the trainers are hung!

So over the last few weeks, I’ve had about 4 runs since I last posted. Things are definitely slowing down.

I managed a 30 min parkrun, but I’m not going to lie, whilst at the time it didn’t hurt it certainly did after and my aching hips reminded me every time I needed to get up. I had a lot of fun that morning, did I realise it was my last parkrun for a while? No. But that probably made me enjoy it more as I didn’t have the lingering thoughts of ‘this is it’

What made me laugh the most was the sheer amount of people trying to ‘race’ me. Now quite visibly pregnant the looks on peoples faces as I went past them at a steady pace, was one of sheer horror as they immediately responded by putting a sprint in.. clearly not wanting to be beaten by the waddler, the men especially!

The guy who made chuckle the most was right in the finish area. With my 4 year old yelling ‘Go Mummy Go’ he turned, clocked me and the bump and loudly said ‘oh hell no’ as I was right on his heels whilst he was struggling to catch his breath. For a split second, I was tempted to put my foot down, I was still taking it fairly easy, but instead I laughed and ran in behind him. I would have had to barge him out the way as the finish line is quite narrow and I didn’t want to be THAT person. He was clearly elated with his victory and proudly told me he was never going to let me pass him. I didn’t have to heart to tell him I could have taken him quite easily and actually let him ‘win’. I couldn’t quite believe how competitive he was over a pregnant woman! I did have to laugh!

In the meantime, on Father’s Day, my afore mentioned 4 year old (the little high 5 machine above) took part in his first ever 5K. I ran/walked with him and I honestly thought he’d throw in the towel after 1 lap (2.5k) as often he gets tired even with Junior parkrun but he was determined to get round, catch his Daddy up and with the promise of a goody bag, his own medal and dressed in his race t-shirt, he was very proud, needless to say so was I! He managed to run quite a lot of the first lap, then walked the majority of the 2nd encouraged by some pocket haribo I’d smuggled along for the ride, but he managed a sprint finish, whilst lapping up the cheers! He wore his medal most of the day, then proudly hung it in his bedroom with his race bib! He’s learning already!!

Later that week the heatwave really kicked in. I’d planned my usual run to Starbucks for my free weekly coffee (decaf before anyone judges) but it was hotter than hot and was a little concerned about running in the 27c heat at 35 weeks! I decided to play it safe and maybe walk there instead? Didn’t want a boil in the bag situation!

That said I started off and I was in the shade and feeling fresh. I thought, run for 1k then switch to waking and see how I felt. 1k down, I was hot and switched to a brisk walk. Within a minute or two of walking and still in the shade I seemed to regulate my body temperature and thought I’d start running again after 1km of walking. Well it worked. I’d shortened the Starbucks run to 5k nowadays and I alternated for the 5k, doing a total of 3k running and 2k walking.

It was hot, super hot, but sticking to the shaded paths and regulating my temperature with walking I made it there feeling still relaxed and fresh. However, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed an iced coffee as much as I did that day! Being heavily pregnant in a heatwave sure is a challenge!

A week passed and I hadn’t ran again. I planned on parkrun that weekend but overslept (a rarity in my house I tell you) and actually couldn’t be bothered to rush about to make it there on time.

Later that week I had had a stressful midwife appointment, with threats of a C-section looming and things becoming even more complicated than before… I just needed some head space. Normally this is my cue to run. Escape everything. But, yet again it was hotter than the sun even in the evening. England were playing and I’m not going to lie the thought of an un-judged run knowing 99% of the population would be in a pub or glued to their sofas proved too much temptation. I knew this was getting towards the point I’d have to stop soon and the events of the day made me think this would happen any day now. I was booked in to see the consultant the next day and with no idea what they might say, I thought I’d head out for a late evening plod.

It was blissful. I wanted a route that was peaceful and pretty, I picked a route I’ve avoided most of my pregnancy due to the humongous hills, but that night I didn’t care. I wanted the views, it wasn’t an out back down the busy main road kinda run. I needed to lose my head and can’t do that with traffic steaming by.

I didn’t encounter another human being than night. Just some over friendly cows who I went to say hi too. I ran where I wanted and walked where I didn’t want to run (the hills, it was too hot for that)

I really enjoyed that run and really did have the feeling it would be my last. Yet somehow that made it all the more cathartic.

After a stressful week of more hospital appointments, I’ve come to the conclusion this weekend that at 37 weeks, that was indeed my last run (not forever, let’s not be over dramatic, but for a little while at least)

I always said I would stop when it hurt or I felt it might not be the right thing to do anymore. I’ve kind of reached both of those points now. No one has told me to stop, but given this little lady is determined to make us worry a LOT before she’s even arrived, I just feel the time is right to start taking it easy and stop her little weekly rollercoaster ride.

I’ve been so lucky to continue to run this far in, I thought this day would have come way earlier and not 1 or 2 weeks before I meet the newest member of the clan! I already feel a bit lazy, having not done anything, I did try swimming at the local Lido this weekend but it just felt too weird and unbalanced.

So for now at least, kit lay abandoned, there will be pics of me walking NOT Running to keep myself sane and soon enough will bore everyone instead with a plethora of pics of my newest achievement.

But for now… here she is still safely nestled inside for just a little longer! My little baby bump, that everyone keeps asking where it is, well here she is!!! I’m so ready to see her safe and well now it’s unreal. I should imagine the next post will probably be accompanied by a messy bun and puke on my shoulder… but bring it on I say!

It’s getting harder….

So in the last few weeks I think it’s finally hit home I am about to produce another human. I’ve probably gone into panic mode a bit and begun furiously trying to re-organise my house and washing everything in sight!

At 32 weeks (weekend before last) we took a trip to Champney’s courtesy of a hefty discount with Fitness Rewards / Vitality (this isn’t one of these sponsored posts by the way, I just like bragging I get 75% off of trips there!) This was to be our ‘Babymoon’ A term, I’m told meaning, one last trip before everything changes! I was so looking forward to this. We’d been before and it’s the perfect blend of pampering and fitness all rolled into one.

I think it was this trip that made me realise I am actually heavily pregnant now. Not just a little bit pregnant anymore but hurtling full throttle into the midst of the final countdown. Talking openly with the masseuse (I swear they are more like therapists) who gave me the most relaxing of relaxing massages I’d ever had, coupled with a bit of struggle at parkrun that weekend (more about that later) made me realise this is actually happening and very soon.

When we arrived on the Friday I convinced the other half to come out on the mountain bikes with me! He hasn’t ridden a bike in about 10 years so was quite fun. We cycled around the fields and woodlands for about an hour and I rather enjoyed it. The afore mentioned other half banned me from road cycling as soon as we found out we were expecting. He just doesn’t trust the drivers (either that or my ability to clip out successfully every time.. I do have form)

I didn’t struggle on the ride, I think I was just having too much fun, but my legs felt heavy after, proving my cycling legs had definitely left me many months ago! After all, we’d only been out for just over an hour!!!!

When I say I struggled at parkrun, well up until that morning, I’ve still been able to consistently crack out 5k in under 30 mins in my altered heavier state and something that has become a bit of a marker in the back of my head of when it’s time to ‘hang up the trainers’

That morning I’d had a generous breakfast (something I’m not used to but I was really hungry) and headed off to plod. It was a beautiful course but hilly and with very hard rutted terrain. I’d been struggling with some slight Achilles niggles on the last few runs and the hardened uneven tractor tyre ruts and hills did nothing to ease these. I felt I couldn’t breathe half the time and the whole thing just felt a struggle. I’m not going to lie, I felt a bit defeated. For the first time, I had had to walk a few times and that really didn’t help my mood. I crossed the line in 34.16 and kind of mumbled my way back to the car in a bit of a grump.

I had my massage to look forward to, a hula hoop class (who knew it was possible hula hoop with a giant belly in the way!) and some lazing by the pool to distract me from my thoughts, but I still couldn’t get away from that nagging feeling that maybe today was the last day of running for a good while.

We arrived back home and the end of the trip really brought home I was down to single digits on the countdown. I should have been excited but was suddenly overwhelmed with what was about to come. The sudden realisation that everything is about to change had suddenly hit me. I haven’t done the whole baby thing for 5 years and here I was looking down the barrel of sleepless nights, losing my ‘me time’ all over again and still the niggling fact that my little runs of solitude now felt a bit more unachievable.

The next week I didn’t run at all. I sort of felt like I’d lost my confidence and maybe I was crazy to think I could still run at 32 weeks. So instead I dusted off my road bike and packed it up to take it up to the velopark. I wasn’t allowed on the road but no one said anything about a track! A loophole. I didn’t tell anyone I was going as I didn’t want a lecture! I just wanted to try.

When I got there it was closed for some filming!!! I was gutted! But not one to give up, I cycled laps of the path around the park. I got some strange looks and heard some runners say something about a bike as I whizzed past, clearly about me… I wanted to shout, I’d rather be on the road thanks!! But I poodled round for 30 mins, and called it a day. I’d done what I came to do, albeit different to what was planned and mostly dodging pedestrians and dogs! I even earned myself a QOM, ok it was out of 5 and probably because no one else is weird enough to cycle laps of a park, but I’d never had one before so was quite fun!

I was comforted by the fact that I could still just about cycle even if running was now a bit more tricky. Wondering next week if I’d try the velopark again as I wasn’t totally told off for taking it out for a spin.

Trouble was, I’d had a bad few nights with the first born and my ever increasing hormones was partly to blame for making me moodier still … perhaps also as I hadn’t been out for my usual head clearing run in over a week and a half that just made me think maybe I’ll give it another go. Was I crazy at 33 weeks? Only one way to find out!

I despatched the child to school, changed and headed off to my pregnant friendly, judgy pedestrian free route! I didn’t have my Garmin. I set Strava off on my phone a popped it in my pocket. Headphones in, plodding away I just ran until I got to a bridge I know is about 2.5k out and turned back. It felt fairly effortless. My breathing was a bit better than before? My legs grumbled a bit, but on the whole not bad. I got back to where I parked the car having only really stopped for traffic or to open and close gates and felt happier. My grey mood had lifted and it had served its purpose.

Pulling my phone out, it showed I had run it in 29.32 and a little smirk went across my face. I didn’t run today to prove I could run a sub 30 still. I ran because I wanted to just lose my head for a bit and see if I still could. Turns out, I can, for now. But being sub 30 probably gave me that extra little boost to perk me up!

I’m under no illusion this will continue. I’m almost 34 weeks pregnant and having a baby any day. I’ve reminded myself that I’m lucky I’ve been able to continue this far. Considering I thought I would have been giving up about 25 weeks, the fact I’m still going at any pace is some small miracle to me. Our bodies are clearly capable of more than we imagine and now I feel stupid for being so defeated that I thought having to walk a bit signalled the end of my little half hour of headspace.

In the last week, my general mood has lifted, I’m less scared of what’s to come (ok I’m still terrified, but I don’t have ‘ignorance is bliss’ on my side this time) and I’m feeling generally more positive about everything all round. Did one ‘ok’ run do this? Who knows, but I know stressing over things changing is not something that should make me feel defeated anymore.

I just have to learn to adapt. I think I will be doing a lot of that very soon.

You Shouldn’t Be Running!!

Something I hear on a daily basis at the moment.

This blog has been sat around a while now. Something I’ve wanted to start for a while, picked up, put down and just never really got round to. Turns out it takes an emotive subject to get me to finally start writing properly.  I didn’t want to start out with a rant…. but may as well get it out the way and it can only go up from here.

It seems everyone has an opinion or a medical degree when it comes to me and running during this pregnancy.  It isn’t something I did with my first. In fact those who are familiar with my foray into all things swim/bike/run will know that back in those days I didn’t even own a pair of trainers let alone any of the other kit that has taken over my house. But here I am, approaching 31 weeks pregnant and still running. Not far or fast but running.

Tonight I found myself driving to a route, one I know I am unlikely to encounter any other humans, haters, or gawpers.

Why? Well, I’m fully aware I’m not the first person in the world to continue training throughout pregnancy and most definitely won’t be the last. But all the flippant comments, the mouth open stares and sometimes downright hurtful behaviour has started to make me become ashamed of doing something I love in a public space! Now, short of running laps of my garden or dining room table… I’m left with little choice but to ignore them or avoid them and carry on!!

In all honestly, I feel blessed in a way that my body has allowed me to continue to run as long as it has. I thought that I would have thrown the towel in long before now. BUT I’m still enjoying it and on the whole it doesn’t hurt, so why should I stop? I know that point will come soon and probably rush up on me, but Medical advice says; If it’s something your body is used to before pregnancy there is no reason to stop now. Granted, there are exceptions. If skydiving was my sport of choice I’m pretty certain that would be more than frowned upon to continue, but putting one foot in front of each other a couple of times a week for half an hour or so still feels something that is achievable to me.

I’ve given up riding my road bike as that doesn’t feel safe anymore, more so because of the idiot drivers that insist of trying to kill you all the time, but also because I can be a bit accident prone when it comes to remembering I’m attached to the bike (I really need to sort that out next year) I’ve also given up open water swimming; mostly because I can’t get my wetsuit on, jokingly, but there are some nasty bugs that I could pick up and I just felt that’s one extra risk I didn’t need. So that left me with running.

Running wise I’ve cut back on frequency, speed and distance, yet people still feel the need to judge my choices.  I like to try and comfort myself that’s its born out of care and love, but sometimes I find that hard to believe. I’ve had anything but a straight forward pregnancy and it seems this baby wants to throw every conceivable curveball at me it can, however, because of this, it means I have a fab medical team around me, keeping a VERY close eye on me, who can give me qualified rational advice about what I should or shouldn’t be doing and what is best for the baby and I.

At every appointment, and believe me there are A LOT, every change, every complication, my final question before I leave the room? Am I ok to carry on running? The answer I’m met with every time? Yes Jemma. Please do. In actual fact they all go as far as to actively encourage me to carry on and advice on how to do so!

So why is there so much stigma about exercising whilst you are growing a human? I can’t believe I’m the only one to get so frequently pulled up on it. Maybe I get more stick because I’m a born skinny chick, who naturally grows smaller babies (my first was 5lb 13oz and all I did was sit on the couch eating very unhealthy food by the way) or maybe its because my bump appears to be small (despite only measuring 1cm behind where is should be, I measured further behind with my first when I didn’t exercise)

I did a bit of research and it turns out contrary to a growing popular opinion it’s actually really good for you and the growing human!

Benefits for baby:
– A healthier heart
– Normal birth weight
– Quicker to develop neurologically
– Reduced risk of respiratory Syndrome

Benefits for Mum:
– Reduced incidence of Lower Back pain
– 30% reduction in gestational diabetes
– Reduced likelihood of unplanned C-section
– Lower incidence and reduced severity of depression
– Less pregnancy weight gain
– Lower risk of urinary incontinence
– Reduces constipation
– Less pregnancy tiredness

So it would seem that whilst it seems unconventional to most, every link I’ve followed on my google search ‘exercise during pregnancy’ actually screams benefits and not ‘what the hell are you doing sit down, be quiet and wait 9 months’

My fellow runny folk have been nothing but supportive and to be honest they are probably the ones who have kept me sane about all the stick I’ve been getting, but I’m really surprised at some of the reactions I have had. I often feel like getting a tshirt printed with some sort of witty message on it but in all honesty I think I just need to learn to smile and nod more and not feel the need to constantly defend my decisions.

For those reading this who aren’t runners or even those that are and might not ‘get it’ I don’t run because I don’t want to put on weight or for any other kind of selfish reasons, I do it because I enjoy it, it keeps me sane and it turns out it’s pretty good for both me and the mini me!

So next time anyone sees a pregnant lady running, give her a smile, not a gawp and maybe just be a little bit less judgemental. We’re not bad people, we’re just happy doing what we enjoy.