It seems the days of bed rest are over. Women of all walks of life are continuing to remain active throughout their pregnancy, and with incredible results. Further, women are now treating their pregnancy as THE athletic event of their lifetime. After all, who wouldn’t want to put a little preparation towards being strong, healthy, and fit during these 40 WEEKS to bring a strong, healthy baby into the world?
Pregnant runners are increasing in numbers as women better understand that they CAN continue to do the activities they love doing, provided they make the necessary modifications and add a little extra strength work to support their changing body and the additional load.
I’ve personally helped steer many of my athletes throughout their pregnancies and in the postpartum comeback. I’m continually impressed with how incredibly strong and resilient these women are and how quickly they return back to top form afterwards! Not being a woman, or ever being pregnant for that matter (ha!), I always make sure we establish trust through clear communication between us.
We always check in to see how we’re feeling and follow our intuition, i.e. if a movement feels a little strange or a little off, we either try to slow it down and clean it up, or we take it out and modify it altogether.
Just this past spring, I helped one woman train for the Boston Marathon only 3-4 months after giving birth to her second. How was it possible to train for and race a marathon so soon after pregnancy?
In addition to being a smart experienced runner and a smart experienced mom, we made sure she focused a lot on (and I mean a lot!) on posture, core strength, whole body movements, and their applications towards safe, connected running.
We had the most success when we could combine elements of connected, focused movement inside the gym with shorter bursts of very connected and focused running outside the gym. Notice I’ve used the word “connected” a lot which represents the athlete’s ability to be 100% in the drivers seat, meaning she is very aware of what she’s doing and why she’s doing it.
Here is a strength workout that you can try right now to aide you in your own running, training, and pregnancy. If you don’t always feel in the driver’s seat, this workout will help you to gain that control!
It’s best to start this as early as possible in the pregnancy, and know that you will have to modify the range of motion, sets, and reps as you progress and as how you feel. But don’t worry; you’re body will tell you what it does and does not want to do!
Workout: Body Weight “no gym” workout
Duration: 30 minutes max Location: Local gym, a park or your living room
Warm up with mobility work... -Start with a brisk walk -Arm circles starting small and progressing to 10-15 larger ones -Arm hugs, 10-15. Feel the stretch in your back and your chest opening. -“Inch worm” Standing to planks, 5 times. Go for a push-up when in plank position if you're feeling strong! -Stand back up for leg swings 15-20 times on each leg. Remember to stay tall. -Swing one leg back into a lunge position, your legs about shoulder width apart. lean forward on both hands with your front leg bent at the knee and rotate in a circle at the hips.
Main set (25min)... DESCENDING LADDER: This means for each exercise you will perform 8 reps, then 6, then 4 then 2. Each exercise is performed in pairs so you can alternate the exercise.
What to focus on... -Squat: keep your belly and butt tight and knees out as you squat -Planks with shoulder touch: Widen legs for a broader base of support. Touch left thumb to left shoulder, then right thumb to right shoulder. Try to minimize shifting as much as you can. -Lunge: Keep your hips square and forward, feet shoulder width apart and front shin vertical -Pushup: Screw those hands in and tilt shoulders forward as you drop all the way to the ground. If you need to modify, lower yourself down on your toes, then press up from your knees. If this is till too hard you can do an elevated push up against a wall or chair. -Burpee: For an extra challenge try jumping in and out with your heels and big toes together and your heels always on the ground. You can modify the burpee by removing the push up, i.e. keep your arms straight the entire time. -Squat Jump: think explosive in the hips, landing with most of your weight on your heels. Modify this with smaller hops, and of course if hops do not feel good then take them out altogether!
WORKOUT 8 squats 8 shoulder touch planks 6 shoulder touch planks 6 shoulder touch planks 4 shoulder touch planks 4 shoulder touch planks 2 shoulder touch planks 2 shoulder touch planks Run 400m focused on being as tall as possible.
Rest 30sec-1 minute
8 lunges 8 pushups 6 lunges 6 push ups 4 lunges 4 push-ups 2 lunges 2 push-ups Run 400m focused on deep belly breaths.
Rest 30sec-1 minute
8 burpees 8 Squat jumps 6 burpees 6 squat jumps 4 burpees 4 squat jumps 2 burpees 2 squat jumps Rest 30sec- 1 minute
Run 400m focused on a relaxed “elbow back” arm swing.
After you’ve adapted to this workout, try a 10-8-6-4-2, or 12-10-8-6-4-2 ladder. You can also shorten the run to 200m or increase it to 800m depending on your running level and experience! The above running cues are three of my favorite to focus on but feel free to dig deeper into specific running drills that speak to you more specifically.
Not sure where to start with running drills or how to squat for that matter? At The Run Experience, we have you covered! Surf our blog for a great resource on “how to” videos on running technique, strength exercises, and other forgotten practices such as, how to warmup!
3 Tips for Better Running Form:
Founded The Run Experience with the goal of reaching a broader audience of runners and outdoor enthusiasts who want to be able to run and enjoy the outdoors and remain injury-free. He has helped athletes finish their first races, conquer new distances, overcome pre-existing injuries, set new PRs, reach the podium, and qualify for national and world level events. Nate Helming is based in San Francisco and in addition to coaching runners and triathletes of all levels, he trains Olympic level cyclists, professional triathletes, elite mountain bikers, and national-level ultra runners on strength and mobility. Nate has traveled around the world to speak about better strength training for endurance athletes, and regularly publishes videos and articles on how runners can do it better! You can follow him onInstagram and Twitter and visit him in person at San Francisco Crossfit for one of his classes or one-on-one sessions.