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How to Stay Running During Pregnancy

How to Stay Running During Pregnancy

Running during pregnancy and through motherhood is becoming more common and gaining more support than ever. Elite distance runner Stephanie Bruce received popular attention as she trained through her pregnancy. The US Olympic Marathon Trials featured over twenty mothers racing for a chance at the olympic team this year. The New York Marathon even included on-course lactation tents for new moms in its latest race. 

These examples show us that running is a sport for all stages of life, including pregnancy and postpartum. However, running and pregnancy combined place a lot of physical demand on the body! Read more to learn about how to stay running when you’re expecting.

Should you run during pregnancy? 

Running during pregnancy can be a fantastic form of aerobic exercise! It is safe and beneficial withstanding any contraindications for exercise in pregnancy- always check with your OB first. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends all pregnant people participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week. It can limit the risk of developing other complications in pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preterm birth.

If you weren’t running already, pregnancy may not be the best time to start. Running places significant impact force on your pelvic floor and requires high cardiovascular demand – two systems that are already taxed during pregnancy alone. If you are new to an exercise program, consider other forms of cardiovascular exercise. Walking, swimming, or indoor cycling are good options for lower impact and intensity when starting out. If you’ve been running regularly leading up to pregnancy, however, running is a great way to maintain your physical fitness.

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Body changes in pregnancy 

If you’re hoping to keep running during pregnancy, it’s important to recognize changes the body will go through that could impact your training:

  • Posture and form changes: As the belly grows, the low back arches and the body’s center of gravity shifts forward. This can lead to changes in normal running posture, gait, and comfort. 
  • Relaxin: this hormone gets a bad reputation as the culprit for many pregnancy-related aches and pains, but it serves an important purpose! It helps to “relax” the ligaments around the pelvis to make room for a growing baby. You may notice feeling more flexible while stretching, or notice some pelvic pain during a run as your body adjusts.
  • Cardiovascular changes: a pregnant person’s blood volume can increase by 45%, which will also increase their heart rate. As a result, heart-rate based training may no longer be an accurate measure of effort level. 

Pregnant Running Tips to keep you running during pregnancy:

Be willing to modify your running during pregnancy: 

Pregnancy isn’t the time to set your marathon PR! With all the changes and effort your body is putting into growing your baby, you will likely slow down. Now is a good time to leave your ego (and maybe even your watch) at home. ACOG recommends activity at a moderate intensity level throughout pregnancy. This can be tricky to quantify if you are used to running based on pace or heart rate, as both of these things will likely change as the pregnancy progresses. The “talk test” can be a good alternative to measure your effort level while running during pregnancy.  To reach moderate intensity exercise you should be able to chat with your running partner, but not sing a song.

Keep up with strength training: 

ACOG supports that strengthening exercises should be completed 2-3x/week while pregnant. This is especially important for pregnant runners to minimize any aches or pains that develop due to altered posture or gait mechanics. Particular focus should be paid to the muscles of the glutes, hip adductors, abdominals, and pelvic floor. These muscle groups will work to stabilize the pelvis during a run.

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Try running with a belly support band: 

Running Pregnant

Many pregnant people find that their growing belly becomes uncomfortable to run with, and may benefit from additional abdominal support. A “belly band” or compressive maternity leggings can provide gentle support and lift to keep you moving. 

Know when to stop running during pregnancy: 

There may come a time in the pregnancy journey where it is best to put running on hold. Always listen to your body for the best time to modify your running! Consider run/walk intervals, hiking, or other cross training as alternatives. A few important signs to stop running include:

  • Pain from the back or pelvis while running
  • Significant shortness of breath while running
  • Any warning signs to terminate exercise per ACOG recommendations: vaginal bleeding, dizziness/lightheadedness, unusual shortness of breath, chest pain, fluid leaking from the vagina, or uterine contractions     



Running during pregnancy can be safe and have benefits for both mom and baby. If aches and pains occur along the way, a running physical therapist is a great resource.  They can provide you with tips and exercise to stay moving and comfortable.

Reach out to one of Agile’s running team members for individualized guidance to help keep you running during this time!

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