Running in Pregnancy: my personal approach
Now 7 months pregnant, I've managed to continue running through being pregnant and feeling good while doing so. This however has caused quite the debate online as I've shared my active lifestyle and 30 mile weeks as being seen to be active isn't something that's necessarily the norm.
I got this brilliant message on Instagram this week and I thought I'd share it more publicly as this was so well worded and I thought my approach might help others:
Hi Fiona ! I’ve been following your content for a while now and I just wanted to share that you’ve been extremely inspiring! I love that you’re so open about being active during your pregnancy and I really feel that it’s important to talk about this! To be honest I feel that there’s this weird stigma and preconceived notion that you should be not active during your pregnancy other than maybe some short walks etc. And prior to your stories I was convinced that it’s the only way to go 🤷🏻♀️ I never questioned it really, I’m not a mum, but I feel like your active pregnancy really opened my eyes and I’m so grateful that your so vocal ! Can you share more details about your approach for this if you’re comfortable? Like whether you train on a feel or monitor your hr? If you’re uncomfortable with this just ignore my question and I again respect all the things you do for the women running community ;) I hope that you’re still feeling great :)
Hi X, it's so very kind that you reached out - THANK YOU. There is 100% a weird stigma (I keep joking everyone appears to be a qualified doctor and/or midwife when it comes to their views on pregnancy!) and it's so hard to be questioned for doing it but it's so encouraging when I get messages like this.
Ok some things I've done to get me to a place where I am confident in how I'm working out:
I've read... a lot. I've read 6 books on pregnancy fitness/running (that's literally all that is on the market) and weighed it up with the doctors and midwifes that I (importantly) trust. NHS advice is varied still so if in doubt I've gone for the overall signed off public NHS opinion because interestingly, as with much of sports science, there are hugely conflicting research papers
The biggest and most helpful book I've read isn't actually about fitness in pregnancy but in assumptions made without research - Emily Oster's book Expecting Better. It's helped me navigate with confidence a lot of the strong opinions, often not based on any research that are out there
In terms of my actual training there are 2 things that I've particularly used to set my own framework:
1. Sophie Power's blog series (supported by a physio) where she writes about being an ultrarunner and the journey through pregnancy
2. Chris Lundgren's book on Running and Pregnancy has a scientific way of using pre-pregnancy heart rate fitness to calculate your own proposed max - for me that works out about 160bpm and I follow that pretty confidently (so I do tempo and strides but I personally don't do 5km effort reps for example).
Hope this is helpful and totally here if you have more questions!