Racing while pregnant: How pregnancy changed my half marathon

My friend Sarah gets the award for the Most Astute Blog Reader. She posted this on my Facebook wall right after we announced our baby on the way.

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That’s right.

I already wrote a post about what I did differently for this race, but I failed to mention one enormous detail: I was 10 weeks pregnant on race day.

Let’s start at the beginning. Pregnancy and the half marathon were both things Tom and I were planning on, but I didn’t know they were going to intersect when they did.

Tom and I became open to the idea of getting pregnant with #2 in May. If that had happened I would be due next month. Yikes. I was still nursing a lot back in May, so we didn’t really expect it to happen immediately, and it didn’t.

I was only nursing once a day, in June and July, but it still didn’t happen. I started to stress a little. We got pregnant immediately with David, so I didn’t understand the concept of waiting a few months.

Meanwhile, I was also considering running the half marathon. I started training in July but was nervous about it so I didn’t talk about the race until September. By then I’d started doing long runs, David had been weaned for two months, and I still wasn’t pregnant. I’d started running a lot, and realizing the demands I was putting on my body, I decided to focus on the race and chill on the whole “I’m not getting pregnant immediately” freak out.

So I started to focus on the race. I was doing lots of speed work, tempo runs, strength training, and cross training. My training partner Sharon and I worked really, really hard, and we were nailing our times. It started looking like we were on our way to a PR race.

Then on October 9 I found out I was pregnant.

It wasn’t a surprise, but the timing was. When I planned to do the half, I thought I’d either be something like 16 weeks pregnant, and I’d run/walk it easily, or I’d be like four weeks pregnant and either wouldn’t know yet or it wouldn’t affect my running.

But 10 weeks!? I started worrying immediately. I started dreading my long runs and speed work, and felt ill when I thought about the race (I talk about my dread here, pregnancy is the biggest reason why). First trimesters are tough, relentless and unpredictable. I don’t get morning sickness, but I am e.x.h.a.u.s.t.e.d the whole time. Tom and I also like to tell friends and family about our pregnancy late in the game, so no one would know about the baby. I like having excuses when it comes to running, and pregnancy is a pretty valid excuse…unless no one knows about it.

I decided to go forward with the race for these reasons:

  1. I ran until I was 37 weeks pregnant with David, including a 5k and a 10k race, so I already had a good idea of how my body/pregnancy would respond to running.
  2. I did a LOT of research about running and health during pregnancy when I was pregnant with David, and felt it would be safe.
  3. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT — I talked to my doctor. I asked about running in general, I asked about the race and I asked about whether it was safe to push myself. He said it was all safe, but to be smart and make sure to hydrate. Before you run, make sure to talk to your doctor.

But this still wasn’t a normal race. When I started training, my priority was to run a great race. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my only priority was to my unborn child.

At 10 weeks you don’t need maternity clothes or anything, but pregnancy did change my training for the last month and a half, and race day. This is how:

  1. I got really, really nervous. This is why I got so nervous: even though I ran through pregnancy with David, I never really pushed myself. I even did some long runs with friends training for a half, but I never ran 14 sub-9-minute miles. I started talking about my nervousness to my running partner, and worried that it made her more nervous, which I wish I hadn’t done.
    In hindsight, the nervousness was for naught. Not only did I run a PR, but I felt great the whole time. Sure, I was exhausted, but pregnant ladies: I promise, exercise will make you feel better.
  2. I couldn’t take Ibuprofen. I’m a runner who gets sore easily, is injury-prone, and needs a lot of recovery time. Because of that, I love Ibuprofen after runs. But Ibuprofen is a big no-no during pregnancy, so I was forced to deal with post-running aches and pains the way the cavemen did: by taking it easy and complaining to my husband.
  3. I stopped running so much. Before I found out I was pregnant, I was running six days a week (sometimes twice a day) and doing strength training two times a week. As soon as I got pregnant, I cut back on the madness. I started running four days a week (including one tempo run and one long run), and made those runs count. When I was really tired, I’d just run three days a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), because that’s what I needed to do in order to give it my all on the days I was running.
  4. I prioritized rest. When first trimester exhaustion hit me, I knew I couldn’t run and have energy to take care of David all day if I was going to bed after 10 p.m. So that’s what I started doing: I’d go to bed at 10 p.m. and wake up at 7 a.m. That’s nine hours of sleep a night, and I needed every minute of it. Sometimes I’d even nap during the day.
  5. I started eating everything in sight. At the height of half marathon training, I was really watching what I was eating and I lost a little weight. (This isn’t abnormal. Actually, that’s how weight loss works: eat less, move more = weight loss.) When I found out about the pregnancy, I was hungrier and  started eating more. I gained back a few pounds, and didn’t care.
  6. My digestive system started acting up. Like I said, I don’t get morning sickness, but like most runners, I worry what my stomach will do on long runs. After a particularly tough long run, I started being very, very regimented about what I ate on Friday nights. But pregnancy does crazy things to your body. You don’t just get a big middle, your skin, teeth, attitude, and feet all change, too. And my digestive system started acting up. Big time. So I took an Imodium before the race (and I asked my doctor for an ok). I’ve never done that, but it worked.
  7. I ate more during the race. I think this is a good idea anyway, but I started fueling at mile 5. Baby and I needed the fuel, and it got us to the finish line feeling strong.
  8. I drank mid-race. I never, never, NEVER drink in races. The most I ever do is take water, swish it in my mouth and spit it out. Especially in shorter races, because you’ll be done running by the time the water starts to hydrate your body. And I’m worried about having to pee mid-race. But the doctor told me to stay hydrated, so I did. I took water at mile 6, 8, and 10. And then I drank like a camel after the race.
  9. I didn’t celebrate with a post-run margarita. We decided to celebrate the race with Mexican for lunch. It was delicious. I gorged on chips and licked my plate. And drooled watching my parents suck down margaritas. I can still taste the salt. And tequila.

I think that’s all? I think? I probably forgot something, it’s been a while and I’m pregnant so the only thing I remember these days is meals.

Now I’m almost 21 weeks pregnant, still exhausted, still eating everything in sight, and still running when I can.

And this girl? I don’t even recognize this girl anymore.
But I sure can’t wait to run past her. In like a year.

racing while pregnant - running a half marathon while pregnant

Any other running moms out there? How did pregnancy change running and racing for you?


  1. Jenny January 24, 2013

    i think you’re crazy. i love you like nobody’s business…but you are crazy.

  2. Sarah O'Dell January 25, 2013

    I feel totally famous and special right now.

    We also got pregnant right away with our first and it took us longer with our second. And I was beyond exhausted first trimester. But I did not run a half marathon. Or a half mile. You’re amazing 😉

    P.S. – Are you going to find out what you’re having?

  3. Rebecca Evans January 25, 2013

    Great post! I can totally relate:) I got pregnant unexpectantly while training for a marathon (last winter- Graham was born in October). I had already done a 20 mile training run (not knowing I was pregnant), and assumed the midwife would tell me I couldn’t run the full marathon (at 11 weeks). But, she told me the same thing your doctor told me and I was thrilled! She just said to stay hydrated and try not to break any records. So at 11 weeks pregnant I ran the Shamrock marathon in 4:38 (40+ minutes slower then my PR), and felt great the whole run. I actually enjoyed just taking my time and not pushing myself that hard. I assumed after doing that I’d be able to keep running throughout the whole pregnancy (made it to 34 weeks with my first), but my body had different plans and my last run was at 30 weeks. But, I was back at it 5 weeks post partum and am training for the Shamrock again (Graham will be 5 months old). I’m convinced pregnancy does something to a woman’s body that makes it easier to get back into running. And, when the training gets hard, I just remind my self how much worse labor is:)

    Congratulations BTW! The 2nd baby is WAY easier on all accounts- enjoy it!

  4. ashley January 25, 2013

    So we’re ready for #2. Wait, we’ve been ready and trying, but #2 isn’t on his/her way yet. And then I decide I’m going to train for a half, but FREAK THE HECK OUT thinking if I get preggers, I’ll have to drop the training immediately. I still may have to if I get pregnant and my midwife thinks it’s not a good idea, but this gives me hope that I can be a super cool runner girl AND knocked up.

    • amandakrieger January 25, 2013

      Ashley — read the comment above yours, my friend Becca’s midwife was fine with her running a MARATHON at 11 weeks! You can totally do it 🙂 I’ll cheer you on!

  5. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast January 28, 2013

    So funny- I thought the same thing when you announced how far along you were… was she pregnant at that half?? Way to go! I ran a 10 mile race around the 20 mile mark, but that was it… no half marathons during pregnancy. Glad you got the okay, and that your body handled it so well!

    • Amanda K. January 28, 2013

      Laura — I actually REALLY considered emailing you and asking if you’d run any races while pregnant. Like I said, I had running experience, but no racing experience and I figured you’d probably pushed yourself more than I had 🙂

  6. Emily Felts February 1, 2013

    I tried to tell Ryan you are the girl in pink but he is swearing up and down you are the girl with the blue shirt. He is silly. You are the most gorgeous runner I know.

    I can’t wait to see your growing belly! Have no fear though, I won’t touch it. 😉

    • amandakrieger February 1, 2013

      hahahah. tell ryan that if i was the girl in blue i’d have cropped that girl in pink out of the picture; she’s stealing the spotlight!! 😉

  7. […] Like I said, I had been running a lot…and then I kept running a lot until the half-marathon when I was 10 weeks. In contrast, when I got pregnant with David I was running, but still coming off a bad hamstring […]

  8. Sarah March 1, 2015

    Thank you for this post !!! I am pregnant with #3, and was training for a half marathon before I got pregnant and decided to still run it. I had to adjust my training and wanted to tell everyone so badly so I would have an excuse for not running a PR. I will be 11 weeks pregnant and the half is next weekend. I also got really really sick for 2 weeks so I just did what running I could but I am feeling much better now! I found that when I ran a 10 mile training run I was starving afterward and felt horrible so I realized I needed to fuel more. I also have a hand held bottle to carry fluids the whole time I run. I hope it goes well next week! I’m nervous. I ran a 5k and 10k with my previous pregnancies but never a half marathon.

    • amandakrieger March 1, 2015

      Yeah! You can do it!
      I regret not wearing a t-shirt or something that said “baby’s first half-marathon” to get the extra cheers from the sidelines 🙂
      And I also blogged as I prepared for the race (but hadn’t revealed I was pregnant yet) and that’s buried under the “running” tag. There’s a lot more under my “running & pregnancy” tag.
      I agree about having to fuel more. No matter what happens, you should be so proud of yourself for even making it to the starting line!
      Stop by again and let me know how it goes!

  9. Kayce January 4, 2018

    Hi I’m 16 weeks pregnant and Track is about to start I’m in high school .. but I was wondering if me doing the mile or 24 hundred was ok and if it’s ok to push myself I’m very competitive and I always like to do my very best but I’m not sure if it’s ok to push myself ?

  10. Melyndee January 8, 2018

    I appreciate this post! 🙂 I just ran a 15k, 13 weeks pregnant, at 7:35 pace, keeping my breathing, pace and ability to converse in check. (I had energy! I was happy for that! And normally, I’d be low 7s, or sub 7s). However, I am sore like I just ran a marathon!!! Crazy sore! Anyone else experience this? How long does it take to recover from pregnancy-race-soreness?

    • amandakrieger January 10, 2018

      yes! i had that EXACT experience when I was pregnant with my 4th. i ran a 10k very slowly and for the rest of the day i hobbled around like I had raced a marathon. at that point I didn’t know I was pregnant so I had no idea what was going on!
      I think it just takes a little longer for everything. you have a lot of hormones that increase inflammation (which i learned after i had orthopedic surgery while pregnant…) and make your ligaments more flexible. i was able to run through most of my pregnancies but you definitely have to take it a bit slower in running and recovery.

  11. megan February 7, 2019

    With my last pregnancy I had registered for several races before I found out I was pregnant. At 5/6 months pregnant I was getting wild stares at half marathons. When I walked a half at 37 weeks people thought I was insane. It’s nice to know there are other women that run or walk during pregnancy especially towards the end. It was my healthiest pregnancy I could barely run past the 6th month as the baby was on my bladder! It was impossible to run without having to pee. So I walked the rest of the pregnancy.

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