Exercise and Pregnancy: the last 9 months

So here’s another pregnancy post. I know, I’m sorry, I’m aware this is a running blog, and I’ve tried to keep it that way! But this huge thing has definitely impacted my running, and I thought perhaps that now we’re at the end of it all I could give you a run down of how I’ve found it….

 

Months 1-3: I could run as normal, and it took effort to slow down as I didn’t feel pregnant. In fact, because it was the tricky weeks 1-12, I made sure to implement the ‘run-walk’ to make extra sure that everything was fine before I ran properly.

 

Months 4-5: I could run almost as normal. My standard distance was 7-10kms, so not as far as I was used to, and my pace had slowed by  approximately 30-40 seconds per km. I still implemented the ‘run-walk’ to make sure I wasn’t pushing it, and towards the end of this period I could feel the little bub bouncing around at the start, only to settle into the rhythm. It was lovely to feel it, but as a sensation on it’s own it wasn’t pleasant (I never ran too far away from a bathroom!) and it didn’t make for easy running.

 

Month 6. Still pretty small, and running regularly.

Month 6. Still pretty small, and running regularly.

Month 6: Last month of outdoor running. I reduced the distance to 6kms at the most, with fewer stops, but a slower overall pace (it had increased by 60-90 seconds per km). There was a definite bump, and by the end of month 6, the start of each run was so uncomfortable that I didn’t want to go. Even though it was the middle of the UK Summer, which is suuuuuch nice running weather. The weight of the bub was increasing, and I could feel it on my pelvic floor. I started doing kegels like a crazy person.

 

Month 7-8: Gym time! I started my love affair with the gym, and totally cheated on outdoor running. My specialty was leg and arm weights (very light as they hadn’t had a proper workout since November), and the cross trainer for 25  mins. I went swimming as much as possible as it felt lovely and cool on my bump, and I knew that once the bub arrived, I wouldn’t be able to swim (or exercise) for 6 weeks at least.

 

Month 8. Working on muscles in my legs again, and getting my swim on.

Month 8. Working on muscles in my legs again, and getting my swim on.

Month 9: Aqua aerobics, the light weights, and cross trainer for 15 mins max. The bump was big, but not overly heavy, and it felt great to keep active. I noticed my hips were getting very stiff after a day at work, and exercise really helped loosen them up. Plus at this stage, I thought labour could still be an option, and the thought of going into it without ‘training’ terrified me! I wouldn’t run a 10 mile race without training, so why wouldn’t I prepare for labour too?

 

Month 9 and looking perplexed...

Month 9 and looking perplexed…

Looking back, there’s a gradual decline in activity, which makes complete sense. But at the time, because of the extra weight you’re carrying around, you don’t feel like it’s a decline, and I came into the latter months with fewer unpleasant side effects. Cankles only arrived three weeks ago, my hips started to ache only four weeks ago, and I never felt too tired to stop doing things that were part of my usual life. Mostly, this involves going to coffee shops and walking a lot. Walking from coffee shop to coffee shop 😉

 

Ellie B

Dublin

Oh, hey everyone, I’m just typing this in a brand new running city. Yep. I am in Dublin for work, and yesterday managed to get out for a quick run.

 

I did 4k along the River Liffey. I know, 4k’s not so long, but here is what happened: 1) it was getting dark and Dublin is one giant maze. 2) I had to meet my colleagues for dinner. 3) They were already in the pub and thought I was very smug for running instead of joining them. So, in the interest of keeping my (minimal) street-cred with my colleagues, and to ensure I didn’t get lost running in Dublin forever, I did a quick 4k.

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From what I have seen, it seems like a fairly flat city, and that got me thinking about Loughborough, which also seems flat. Oh sure it made for a nice easy run now, but I’m not sure about running on flat surfaces as standard. Having to run up a 3k hill at the end of your run is great because you have to do it to get home, and it’s also good training. Durham hills basically force you to get faster because everywhere you run means you’ll face a hill.

 

Anyway, my run was very pleasant and took me past some good sights, like the St James’ Gate Brewery (home of Guinness), and a nice church. Or something.

 

Yep… there are some gates with the Guinness logo painted on.

Yep… there are some gates with the Guinness logo painted on.

I'm not sure what this is, but it looks nice against the dusk.

I’m not sure what this is. But it looks nice against the dusk. 

 

In my opinion, Dublin looks very European in a way that English cities don’t, with its curved bridges. Gilly said I should hunt out the canals for running, and I didn’t see too many runners on the route I did, so I’m sure I’ve missed the real Dublin running scene bit.

photo 3-26

 

 

So, after being here for one night and doing a 15 hour work day, here are my fave things about Dublin:

  • Everyone here is so friendly and chatty and happy to help
  • Toasted sandwiches seem to be a pub staple. But awesome toasted sandwiches, not soggy or lean.
  • There is a lot of live music
  • Pubs here serve food late
  • People actually do drink Guinness: not like when foreigners arrive in Australia and are shocked to see no Fosters at all!
They drink Guinness AND they put a shamrock on it.

They drink Guinness AND they put a shamrock on it.

It would be lovely to stay here for longer (and maybe find my way around the maze!), but we have another day tomorrow and then I’m home on Saturday. So I’ll just have to come back. Soon I think.

 

Ellie B

Dark January is here – but so is your running….

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed your Christmas. After writing about Formula 1 driving in December, SB and I thought the best way to spend our Christmas holidays was to drive over 2000 miles across the UK – more than once. It was the equivalent of doing this return trip:

 

Dude, if this doesn't look like fun to you, I can't talk to you.

If you’re not spending at least 4 hours in a car every second day, you’re doing something wrong, my friend.

We had a typical Christmas for our family: loads of roast dinners, chocolate and board games (that are only played once a year). My brother, SB and I also tried to whip our our musical talents and sing Christmas songs around the piano, only to find that we don’t have much musical talent.

 

In terms of running, I was still taking it easy, but I have started to up my game in this area. And, may I tell you Ladies and Gentlemen, that it is very exciting.

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Whenever you start back after a break, your first run back can often be disheartening. I get it. It’s cold, you realise how much fitness you’ve lost, and it’s much more attractive to stay on the couch. Last January I was running 10k in 47 minutes without working up too much of a sweat, this January I am working my way up to 7k with a speed that would make my Nana laugh. Except she wouldn’t – my Nana is very supportive. And also it doesn’t matter how fast you run – if only I could get my ego to believe this….

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So how do you keep the goblins of your mind at bay when you’re trying your hardest to get your running thang on? Here is what I do:

 

  • Go into the first run knowing it will be hard. You’ll get tired quickly, you’ll get a stitch when you least expect it, but if you do accept that things won’t go as beautifully as you hope, it will help push through it.
  • Figure out what your goal is. Don’t try to do too much too soon. Is it the regularity of running you want again? Do you want to work on your speed? Or your distance? Mine is the last one. I’d like to build my ‘regular’ runs back up to the 10k mark they have been for the past few years. Then I’d look at speed. Give yourself one thing to work on, and once you’ve achieved that, start on another goal.
  • If you decide today is the day you will run, frickin do it. Don’t let any household chores stop you (I promise you that running will be 100 times better than doing the ironing), don’t let the dark evenings put you off. Decide when you’ll go, and make sure you get out there.
  • Figure out your route before you go. When you’re half way through the run and you have a stitch, it’s much easier to continue if you can visualise the rest of the run, including the end. It’s pretty hard to continue when you don’t have a plan!
  • Be kind to yourself. You will get back to your former glory, just give it time, commitment and patience.

 

I hope that helps… I’ll keep you updated to my re-emergence in the running world! I feel like a butterfly emerging from its Chrysalis.

 

Ellie B

The Saviour that is the Green Smoothie

 

After Wednesday’s post about how I approach food (answer: know when I’m eating rubbish, and eat good things at other times!), I wanted to introduce you to a very good friend of mine, and a staple in my diet for the last 18 months.

 

The Green Smoothie.

 

Green smoothies seemed to be all the rage last year, and this year they have been usurped by the Paleo diet, the gluten-free diet and the sugar-free diet. But I am a creature of habit, and don’t have the will power for any of this year’s crazes, so I’m still revelling in the beauty of the Green Smoothie.

 

This smoothie helps me balance all the curry, wine and chocolate I mentioned on Wednesday. It serves as lunch, breakfast or a mid-morning snack (this very much depends on what’s in the cupboards, which in turn is depends on what day of the week it is!).

 

The core ingredients to my smoothie are:

  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1 apple
  • 1 banana
  • Handful of berries
  • Yoghurt – preferably natural Greek
  • Milk
  • Honey
  • Juice (if available)
  • Super dooper ingredient

 

P1120635

The Super dooper ingredient changes depending on what I feel I need in my diet – and also what I can afford, because  any visit to the health food shop shows that healthy supplements aren’t cheap! In the past I’ve used protein (when marathon training), chia seeds (loaded with fibre, antioxidants, protein and omega-3) and currently I’m enjoying flax seeds (also containing omega-3 and protein) with added iron and vitamin-D.

P1120636

If I’m using the smoothie as a meal substitute, then I’ll also add some porridge oats too. And then you add all the ingredients together and blend – I like a thick smoothie, so I keep the milk/juice light.

 

And that’s it!! It’s such a good way of getting 4 of my 5 fruit and veg each day, and you also get the added smugness of having enjoyed a green smoothie. If I’m doing a long run that evening, I would also eat a snack about an hour before hand.

P1120646

Next week I’m in Oslo and London for work, so not sure how my running will go! I have the best intentions, but it’s also my birthday. And birthday celebrations aren’t always conducive to pre-work running.

 

AND LOOK WHAT ARRIVED TODAY:

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Yes. I am seeing Kylie in November. Look, I won’t pretend it’s the first time I’ve seen her, but honest-to-god, I’m just as excited. Feel sorry for the poor friends who have to come with me, and put up with me singing all the words (at least I’ll know the words, unlike that Elton concert I went to!).

 

Have a totes amaze weekend, and catch you all soon!

 

Ellie B

It’s time to talk about Food.

 

There seems to come a time when all running blogs address the F-word: food. And now it is my time.

 

Recently it feels that I’ve talked a lot about food. My instagram abounds with pictures of chocolate, it feels like half our holiday pictures are photos of what we ate (yeah…. I am that person. Don’t come to a restaurant with me unless you’re happy for my camera to be an additional dining companion). I love food: I love the experience of eating out, the comfort of eating in, and the treat of a takeaway. My favourite foods are curry and chocolate, and I love a good wine to go with both.

Here is a plate of poppadoms. They weren't even the main meal. But I took a pic.

Here is a plate of poppadoms. They weren’t even the main meal. But I took a pic.

 

Food is a very sensitive topic for many people. Eating is something that literally everyone needs to do if we want to lead any kind of existence, and yet it often brings with it all kinds of associations and opinions. There’s nothing like someone drawing attention to what’s on your plate to make you feel suddenly very self-conscious, and these comments can often be weighed down with additional meaning, both positive and negative.

 

Like a lot of people, I had a complicated attitude towards food when I was growing up. Sadly, I think most people have a complex relationship with food at some point, and some people experience this more keenly than others (just as a side note, don’t you think there’s something cute about using the word ‘relationship’ with regards to food?). Right now food and I are in a good relationship. We get on well. It massages my feet at the end of a long day, and I take the rubbish out cos that’s its least favourite chore.

Full plate for this Bride please.

Here are food and I on the happiest of days.

All joking aside (and I do amuse myself with these stupid jokes!), the key for me has been to recognise what my preferred eating habits are, and then make sure it’s healthy and balanced. My favourite meal is dinner, and we like to eat out. Plus, there’s always some evening chocolate going on in our house. So, therefore, generally I try to make sure that breakfast and lunch are relatively healthy.

 

Running is also an influencing factor regarding food. Training means that you physically require more food, and consequently, eating patterns change. When marathon training, there was no way I could have achieved my goals if I was too worried to have toast every day, or a big plate of pasta. I don’t eat quite so much toast now, but I’m also not running 40 miles a week.

food is fuel

Initially, running helped me mentally: it was easier to eat without guilt (which is a whole separate thing – maybe not for today!).  Then as I got faster and entered more races, I could also physically feel how the body needs fuel to do what I wanted to do.  About 60 minutes after I finish a race or a challenging training session, I can feel my stomach empty and my limbs start to feel like jelly. In these moment I understand just what food actually is for us, and it’s much easier to separate it from any additional baggage.

 

In case you are interested, chocolate milk is my favourite post-anything-difficult drink. It is good for replacing fluids, carbs and protein, and keeps that awful jelly-feeling at bay. Beyonce wasn’t wrong when she said ‘I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly’ (I think I’ve used that quote here before. You can’t quote B too many times, you know).

 

Gatorade in my wine

 

And that’s how I manage my food. There’s really no secret to it.  Figure out when you’re likely to get your treats (and everyone should have at least one a day if they can!) and what your biggest meal is, and work around that. Honestly, people aren’t lying when they say ‘everything in moderation’. If only you can get your head to believe it too!

 

Ellie B