Yes, if you are an experienced marathon runner, and you have your doctor’s permission, it can be safe to run a marathon while pregnant. You will need to listen to your body and make sure you take care of yourself while training and running.
It used to be the case that women were advised to avoid strenuous activity during pregnancy, for fear that intense exercise would result in early labor or miscarriage. However, recent studies have actually shown that exercise and fitness during pregnancy lead to many positive outcomes. Read on for everything you need to know about marathons while pregnant.
Is It OK To Run A Marathon Pregnant?
For many women, it can be perfectly safe to train for and run a marathon while pregnant (see below to determine if this is you).
As with many things during pregnancy, it is imperative that you talk to your doctor about your training plan and get the green light. There are some complications during pregnancy that may make running dangerous or not advised. These include anemia, preeclampsia, placenta previa, cervical cerclage, heart or lung disease, and/or multiple pregnancies.
If you are planning to run while pregnant, you can check out resources and training plans for pregnant runners online (there are running coaches who work with pregnant women), or chat with other runners who have completed a marathon while pregnant.
Who Can Run A Marathon While Pregnant?
Marathon running isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t for all pregnant women, either. However, you should go ahead with your marathon plans if you meet most of the following criteria (and your doctor agrees).
- If you are an experienced marathoner, running while pregnant may actually be an interesting challenge. Some runners found that they enjoyed running while pregnant because they were so much more in touch with their bodies (and impressed by what they could do!)
- You already have a solid running base. If you are not already doing long runs, pregnancy is not the time to start.
- You do not have any risk of complications.
- Running a marathon is a fun goal for you, not a stressful one, and you are not trying to PR or run for a time goal.
- You understand how to maintain a healthy heart rate and can stick to it. Doctor’s recommend that you don’t train higher than 90% of your max heart rate.
- Know how to stay hydrated, keep your body cool, and eat enough to support your training.
- Can keep up with any strength training or conditioning that is recommended to keep your body safe (such as pelvic floor exercises).
Who Shouldn’t Run A Marathon While Pregnant?
- Pregnancy is not a good time to run your first marathon. You can run safely during pregnancy (with the consent of your doctor), but save the marathon goal for after birth.
- You haven’t started training, or you haven’t been doing long runs regularly.
- You have a high-risk pregnancy.
- Don’t run if you tend to push through pain, or ignore it. Pain will be your body’s way of telling you where your new pregnancy limits are.
- You can’t be flexible about your training or your outcome. Running a marathon while pregnant can be a goal in itself, rather than a PR.
- You have concerns about weight gain that may lead to health issues or nutritional deficiencies.
How Far Into Pregnancy Can You Run A Marathon?
If you are feeling good, taking care of yourself, and have your doctor’s permission, you can run a marathon at any time during pregnancy.
In the first trimester, for some women running may not be any different than it is while not pregnant. Other women experience nausea or fatigue in the first trimester, which may make a marathon more unpleasant, though it isn’t unsafe for many runners.
During the second and third trimesters, your body will begin to shift and you will need to take care of any muscle aches and pains, as well as make sure you are getting adequate water and nutrition. You will need to make sure to support your pelvic floor.
Also, keep in mind that your pace while pregnant will probably be slower–but don’t worry! Just run to finish and pat yourself on the back for finishing a marathon while pregnant!
Tips For Running A Marathon During The First Trimester
During the first trimester you may not feel any different than normal, and your body will most likely look and feel the same. You may be more tired, or experiencing nausea (which can affect your sleep).
You will still need to talk to your doctor about whether a marathon is safe for you, and make sure you begin listening even more carefully to your body. Don’t assume that everything is exactly the same as it is when you aren’t pregnant.
Make sure you drink enough water, and avoid overheating.
Tips For Running A Marathon During The Second Trimester
Your body will change quickly in your second trimester, so you will need to really assess what feels good to you and what might not. This might change day to day!
You should consider using a belly support belt during the second trimester if needed. It may be a good idea to try this out early so you aren’t surprised come race day.
When doing intense exercise while pregnant, make sure to keep your heart rate below 90% of your max.
You may also notice your pace slowing more during this time, but don’t push it. Some runners actually report feeling more energized during runs in their second trimesters than when not pregnant!
Start your pelvic floor exercise and any other recommended conditioning exercises in the first trimester if you are running in your second or third trimesters.
What Are The Warning Signs When Running While Pregnant?
Look out for these warning signs when training, and make sure to call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Dizziness or faintness
- Painful contractions
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Severe joint or leg pain
- Vaginal bleeding
- Bladder leakage
- Round ligament pain (belly or groin area)
- Abnormally slow recovery
- Severe headaches
Is It OK To Run Long Distances While Pregnant?
Most healthcare professionals agree that moderate exercising is generally safe during pregnancy, and running can be a great form of exercise for pregnant women. However, due to the physical demands of long distance running on the body, this activity may not be suitable for all expecting mothers. Therefore it is important to speak with your doctor before you decide if running long distances while pregnant is right for you.
Expectant mothers should take into account their overall health and fitness level prior to beginning any type of exercise program. It’s also beneficial to understand how their body will respond when engaging in strenuous activity such as long distance running during pregnancy.
Pregnant women should talk to their doctor before running long distances in order to make sure that it is safe for them and their baby. Women should also pay attention to any changes in their body while exercising such as fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness or heart palpitations. If any of these symptoms occur they should stop running immediately and contact their doctor.
How Much Is Too Much Running When Pregnant?
For many pregnant women, staying active is an important part of keeping both themselves and their baby healthy. But with running being so popular, how much is too much when pregnant?
When it comes to exercise during pregnancy, the key is moderation. Women who were already running regularly before conceiving can continue for as long as they feel comfortable doing so and should talk to their doctor about modifications to their routine. However, it’s important to note that some doctors don’t advise any running after the fourth month of pregnancy due to increased risk of injury.
It’s also best for women who have never run before not to start while pregnant because of the strain it could put on their body; instead opt for low impact activities like swimming or walking.
Pregnant women have always been encouraged to stay active during pregnancy, but running a marathon while pregnant? That might sound like an impossible feat. But with the right guidance and knowledge of how to modify your training program during pregnancy, you may be able to safely complete a marathon!
Before pursuing any type of physical activity while pregnant, it is important that you check in with your doctor or midwife for their advice and clearance. Once you receive the green light from them, focus on listening to your body and staying hydrated. Be sure to take breaks as needed and make modifications if necessary. It’s also important that you adjust your pace accordingly so that it doesn’t exceed 140 beats per minute for more than two minutes at a time.