I can NOT believe that come this Saturday I will be in my third trimester! This pregnancy is going by so much faster than the rest it isn’t even funny!!! So far everything has been going awesome still. Unlike my last post, I am feeling a little less “unstoppable” due to my stomach starting to get pretty huge (check out the pic!). I am still able to hold 6:40’s on my harder days for up to 9 miles, so I can’t complain, but for sure need to take a few easy days to recover after the harder efforts like that one.
I am also trying to keep my pelvic floor strong during this time. Having a fourth kid is far different from having a first in that there has been more wear and tear to ALL of my reproductive parts. While I know and feel that making babies is something my body has learned to do very efficiently, I also know that I can not take feeling good for granted and need to do exercises to support my pelvic floor to prevent injury so I can continue to run through the end. This means LOTS of Kegels (my self-rule is that I must do them EVERY time I drive) so I am up to close to 300 of them a day. For some people out there that may seem a little excessive, but something I have learned though my pregnancies is that if a women chooses to run throughout, there is actually more damage done down there than if they sit on a couch all day due to the extra pressure and impact. So while us runners may appear to be extra lean on the outside (for pregnant people) with that “all belly” type of look, this does not mean that our insides are experiencing the same tight little package effect.
Luckily this is an easy fix (JUST KEGEL!) and like every other muscle in our body we can tone and tighten by these silent exercises that can be preformed literally everywhere. Holding them for up to 10 seconds at a time (which takes a lot of working up to!) will be much more effective than doing lots of 1 second holds. While this may be “too much info” for some people (especially guys, sorry not the best post for you guys to read) I feel that this is a topic that is ignored for women who are pregnant, and especially for athletes who train through pregnancy. I didn’t learn about their importance until AFTER my third child. In fact it didn’t become clear to me until I injured in my piriformis when I was out on a long run 10 weeks post baby. Turns out the injury had a direct correlation to having the weakest pelvic floor you can imagine! I was shocked when my doctor mentioned how weak I was. I remember thinking, I practically have a six-pack back but my insides are destroyed!
When I mentioned to my mom (who also has gone through 4 pregnancies) how weak my pelvic floor was she looked at me like I was crazy! “You mean you haven’t been doing your Kegels!?” She said to me in horror! “I’ve been doing them since 1983!”. Well after that conversation, I realized that not only was I being super lazy about doing these exercises, but they were old school! They have been talked about for years and here I was, super-duper athlete/ runner who was doing maybe 10 a week at best after running though 3 pregnancies!
SO, going into this final stretch of what I hope to be my final pregnancy I am keeping these exercises in mind as a way to support my running now and post baby. Additionally, I feel the need to spread the word out there to my fellow female runner friends who are planning on having a baby or have had one. Just like the way we run and do out abs every day, don’t forget the Kegels too! And not just a few here and there, but 100’s of them every day! They are not only very helpful for labor, but helpful post labor in our return to competition and staying injury free.
For those of you who are like what the ef is a Kegel:
Pelvic floor exercise, or Kegel exercise (/ˈkeɪɡəl/), consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, now sometimes colloquially referred to as the “Kegel muscles”. Several tools exist to help with these exercises, although various studies debate the relative effectiveness of different tools versus traditional exercises. ] They were first described in 1948 by Arnold Kegel.