Newly Pregnant; Can I Run This Marathon?

QUESTION

Dear Fitness Expert,
I am 4/5 weeks pregnant and I'm already registered for a 4 mile run this Saturday morning. I have been running the past 8 months. Wanted some advise about the run this Saturday morning and continuing running while pregnant.

Any and all advise would be appreciated.

ANSWER

Dear Runner --
You are in perfect form to run. As you have been in training for the last 8 months, this four-mile run will be a jog in the park! Be sure you are properly hydrated. The most important thing you need to consider is your heat index. All too often mothers-to-be focus more on their heart rate rather than the inner core temperature. Because you are, presumably, in shape, your heart rate is less important than the risk of overheating. Remember that your fetus has no way of sweating and can overheat. The chances of you overheating in this manner, however, are slim as you are:

  1. in shape
  2. have been running this route for almost a year
  3. will be outside in cool weather.

Still, you can train with a rectal thermometer (I know, yucky!) to be sure your inner core temperature does not rise over 101 degrees.

One final note: Although you are a seasoned runner, we still want to make sure your heart rate does not exceed over 160 BPM (beats per minute) and stay there. Yes, when you begin the race, your heart rate will rise. That's okay. But we want to make sure you settle in during the run and return to a safe heart rate (between 118 - 140 BPM). You can monitor this by wearing a heart monitor. If you find your heart rate is too high and staying there for more than five minutes, slow your pace until your heart rate drops down again. You can still have a wonderful workout with a slower pace. Congrats! And keep on running. It is a great way to stay in shape.

As you progress in the pregnancy, you may find the pounding a little too hard on the joints and ever-expanding tummy. Try walking on an indoor-treadmill with a higher incline to continue to work the gluts, hamstrings, abs and endurance. Please stay in touch with us as you progress and we can always monitor your workouts. Good luck this weekend!

-- Alex

Alexandra Allred

Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.

Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!