Pregnancy exercise with Sophie
Following on from our previous blog about running in pregnancy, we sat down with Running Bear’s Sophie to find out more about her own experiences of exercising while pregnant. As a former personal trainer and a keen runner, Sophie is the ideal person to provide some inspiration for how to keep active during pregnancy.
Remember, though, that every pregnancy is different and you should always speak to your midwife or doctor before beginning any type of exercise during pregnancy.
We’re sure that, once you’ve read our interview with Sophie, you will be keen to take the next steps in your own fitness regime. Don’t forget to check out our gorgeous new arrivals or, alternatively, visit our Cheshire shop for the more personal touch. Our Bears will be sure to give you the advice you need!
What is your fitness background?
I used to work as a personal trainer and, before getting pregnant, I would do two gym sessions each week. I like anything strength-based and used to run on top of that as well. I did personal training alongside working in a running shop until I became the manager at Running Bear. Now I don’t have time to do personal training as well, but going to the gym keeps me in touch with personal training, although I tend to do more group classes.
Swimming is often seen as a good way of exercising during pregnancy. Have you tried this pregnancy exercise?
No, I haven’t. Swimming was always my go-to if I couldn’t run. Previously, when I’ve been injured and couldn’t run, I would either swim or use a turbo trainer. We’re currently moving house and so the place is full of boxes, meaning that the turbo trainer isn’t really accessible! Once we’ve moved house, I will add that in if I need a rest day.
What did an average week look like in terms of exercise prior to you getting pregnant?
Normally I would run about five times each week, usually doing six miles on weekdays and eight to 10 miles at a weekend. Before falling pregnant I had been injured and so I was just getting back into it. I was not doing as much running as before I got injured.
Could you tell me more about your pregnancy experience so far?
This is my first baby and I’m now in my seventh month. It’s flying by! The first 12 weeks I was really tired and was just trying to crack on as much as normal. I really felt tired and hungry all the time. I didn’t used to eat dinner until 2pm, but I started eating at 11:30am! I did feel a little bit sick but nothing serious. Between 15 and 17 weeks I developed pelvic pain. My groins and hips were sore and trying to run with that was agony.
How have you found exercising during pregnancy?
I’m a stubborn runner! I was determined to still run before work but then I’d be waddling afterwards. I saw a women’s health specialist who runs herself. She has a pre-natal pregnancy course and gave me loads of exercises to do. It made a massive difference. I reduced my running and then built it back up again.
Since then, it’s been really good. I didn’t run as much just prior to getting pregnant because of my injury, but I was just getting back into it. I’ve been running between 15 miles and 24 miles each week pretty consistently. The week before last I did push it too much. I did an 8-mile run on the Sunday, on top of walking the dog and a gym session, which set me back a bit. My calves were sore afterwards! I did a 10k race last Sunday in 45 minutes. I’m trying not to be a competitive runner, but it’s hard and so I did pick up the pace during the race. My calves were sore after that, so I just did three miles on Monday and four miles this morning with the dog.
I’m trying to listen to my body and be sensible. I want to keep going as long as I can, including running and going to the gym. I hope to keep going up until the baby is due.
How have you adapted your fitness regime?
I am trying to be sensible and not pushing myself like I normally would. I’ve reduced what I was doing before getting pregnant. I have tended to run five miles on weekdays and then do a longer run at the weekend. Now I’m in my seventh month, my muscles will be softer and so I’ve reduced it to four miles on weekdays and six miles on the days when I’m not at work. If I need to do less then I will.
How is your strength training different now you are pregnant?
I’m trying to keep up my strength and so I have adapted that part of my regime. I was still doing pull-ups until about 22 weeks, but nowhere near as many. Now I’ve swapped pull-ups for ring rows or using the TRX system. I’ve also reduced the weights I use for squats and deadlifts. I’m trying to keep my body moving and strong. I do more reps with a lighter weight, whereas previously I did the opposite. I’ve stripped back my core exercises completely and so I am just doing pregnancy-safe core exercises that I can do at home.
Have you taken any other specialist advice?
I see a running physio and one of the coaches at the gym sets my programme. If my physio says ‘no’ to a certain exercise, then I tell my gym coach and we adapt it. My physio, for example, told me that I must raise the bed and not lie flat. I’ve done research and asked for advice as and when I needed it.
How are you maintaining a healthy diet?
I eat little and often, but I’ve always done that. I’m being healthy, but I don’t deny myself chocolate and biscuits. For breakfast, I usually have porridge, or fruit, yoghurt and granola. I will have a snack mid-morning and then for lunch I often have couscous and salad with chicken or cheese. I’ll then have another snack and my tea is always healthy. Typically, I’ll have chicken and pasta or chicken or mince with rice. I’ve really been craving crisps! I didn’t eat much bread before I got pregnant, as I was trying to stop any swelling, but I’m not as strict about this now I’m pregnant.
Why is it important for you to keep active during your pregnancy?
It’s important to keep my body moving. I’m constantly on the go and don’t really have any rest days. I’m always moving with work or walking the dog and just sitting inside doing nothing isn’t good for my head. I like to be outside. I would feel worse if I stopped and didn’t do anything. I’ve tried to keep doing the same things I was doing before I got pregnant but to a lesser degree.
I follow a few American athletes on Instagram and I’ve tried to incorporate things that they did when they were pregnant, although not on such an elite scale. I’ve also been following an American triathlete who gave some helpful advice during her third pregnancy. She said it was important to still bend over to pick things up and tie her shoe laces. It is important to keep your body doing what it has always done.
Do you plan to make any further changes to your pregnancy exercise regime?
I want to go on exercising for as long as I can. On my days off, if I’ve been on a run, I’m now trying to take time to have a sit down which I wouldn’t normally do.
What are your top tips for exercising during pregnancy?
I would just say that you should listen to your body. Everyone’s pregnancy journey is different. I have been lucky with mine. If you were active prior to getting pregnant and you know what you’re doing, then try to carry on for as long as you can. Be sure, though, to keep adapting your fitness regime as your pregnancy progresses and take advice from the relevant professionals.
Thank you very much, Sophie, for giving us an insight into your pregnancy journey so far. It is great to hear about your experiences of pregnancy exercise.
If Sophie has inspired you to get running, then look no further than our incredible range of running shoes. Comfort is key, so pop into our shop and give them a proper try before you buy! Make sure you book in for our expert in-store gait analysis too.
Don’t forget to buy your tickets for our Running Bear Christmas Mingle on 25th November! The event is raising money for The Joshua Tree, which is a wonderful local charity supporting families affected by childhood cancers.