The Pregnant Athlete

Learning To Embrace My Changing Pregnant Body While Swimming, Biking, Running & Practicing Yoga

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Heartburn and knee pains and calf cramps. Oh my!

Week 25 | +18 lbs 

It is true what people say–my second trimester has been an wonderful time of my pregnancy so far! The fog of the fatigue from the first trimester dissipated in Week 16, I finally adjusted my fuel and water intake for my long runs so as to prevent the migraines I was suffering from early on in the pregnancy, and I’ve been really enjoying finally feeling our baby daughter kick in my belly throughout the day (as has my husband whose face lit up when she kicked his cheek after he laid his head gently on my belly one evening).

Suffocating my husband with my belly, 4/9/14

Seemingly suffocating my husband with my belly, 4/9/14

Although I have genuinely enjoyed the last few weeks of the pregnancy, I have had to deal with a few new pregnancy pains during the second trimester. I’ve noted them, and how I’ve tried to deal with them too.

  1. Heartburn. The first time I experienced heartburn was on an easy 5-mile run a month ago.   I had had a green juice comprised of kale, apples, lemon and ginger and a bit of cheese an hour prior to the run, as fuel for my run home from work.   Boy was I unpleasantly surprised when the cheese and acids from the juice immediately started coming back up after only less than a mile into my run!  My doula Caprice Abowitt explained to me that relaxin is a hormone that relaxes the muscles, joints and ligaments in the pregnant body to prepare the body for childbirth, but also softens the muscles of the esophagus and the valve at the top of the stomach, causing heartburn. I try not to eat solids or drink anything acidic up to two hours before a run, whether short or long, opting to drink coconut water for short runs and fueling with water and gels for long runs instead. However, my heartburn will likely only get worse over the coming months. Some pregnant women have suggested taking Tums to help with the heartburn, which I will try if my food avoidance tactic pre-runs doesn’t work.
  2. Knee pains. The pains in my left knee from an injury that had cut my marathon season short early last fall and forced me to cancel my entries to the New Hampshire and New York City Marathons started to bother me again a few weeks ago, sadly.  I presume that the pains had come back as I gained more weight. The increase in weight meant greater impact on my joints. I’ve been able to lessen the knee pain through daily stretching and foam rolling, however, exercises I learned from physical therapy sessions I had attended for three months last year with Finish Line Physical Therapy, whom I highly recommend.  The recurrence of knee pains served as a reminder not to stop stretching.
  3. Calf cramps. A non-running induced pain, calf cramps have shaken me from my slumber twice in the past three weeks followed by loud yelps, waking up my husband too, so far.  As BabyCenter notes: “No one really knows why pregnant women get more leg cramps. It’s possible that your leg muscles are tired from carrying around all of your extra weight. Or they may be aggravated by the pressure your expanding uterus puts on the blood vessels that return blood from your legs to your heart and the nerves that lead from your trunk to your legs.”  Apparently, it’s also an issue that may worsen over the course of the pregnancy. The only proven remedy seems to be to stretch your calf muscle when this occurs by straightening your leg, heel first, and gently flexing your toes.
Freshly made green juice, comprised of kale, apples, lemon and ginger, and red juice, comprised of beets, carrots, apples, lemon and ginger. No more juice pre-run!

Freshly made green juice, comprised of kale, apples, lemon and ginger, and red juice, comprised of beets, carrots, apples, lemon and ginger, both in our wedding souvenirs. No more juice pre-run!

On a positive note, my second trimester pregnancy pains haven’t affected my marathon training, thankfully.  This past Sunday, I ran the More Magazine / Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon in Central Park. Although it’s always one of my favorite local races, this experience was my favorite half marathon one ever!! Not only was it amazing to see and run with so many female friends before, after and especially during the race, I was excited to run it for two with my favorite female in my life (other than my mom), my daughter.  How is it possible to love someone so much whom you’ve never even met yet? It just is.

More Magazine / Fitness Magazine Women's Half Marathon, 4/13/14

More Magazine / Fitness Magazine Women’s Half Marathon, 4/13/14

Week 24 (4/6-12) training: 19 miles 

Sunday: 6 miles
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Yoga, 3 miles
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Rest
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 5 miles