Running Preggers: The Weight of It.

Pregnancy and weight gain go hand and hand obviously. The recommendation for women who are of average weight, BMI of about 18-24%, is to gain between 25-35 lbs during their pregnancy. There are few women, or men, who want to gain an extra 25 lbs. During pregnancy gaining too much or too little has health consequences for both mother and baby.

There’s a certain level of anxiety about gaining weight during pregnancy and the ability to loose it afterward. We all have friends or relatives who never lost the “baby weight” and if they get pregnant again, they put on more weight.

You’re not going to loose all that weight the moment baby is born. Some of it is fat that you’ll slowly work off over the months that follow the birth of your little one. How much fat?

For the average baby and mother the weight distribution is something close to this:

Baby: 8 lbs

Placenta: 2-3 lbs

Amniotic fluid: 2-3 lbs

Breast Tissue: 2-3 lbs

Blood supply: 4 lbs

Larger uterus: 2-5 lbs

Stored fat for delivery and breastfeeding: 5-9 lbs.

So you’re looking at losing somewhere between 12-14 lbs right at birth. Your blood volume will return to normal over the six weeks following birth and your uterus will shrink down over the same period of time. That’s another 6-9 lbs. That leaves you with breast tissue and your store of fat.

If you are planning to breastfeed your baby, you’ll add some weight when your milk comes in (2-3 days after birth of baby), which shouldn’t surprise anyone who has picked up a quart of milk. The average milk capacity of a human female is between 25-35 oz a day. Breastfeeding burns an extra 600-800 calories a day (you should be eating 500 extra calories to maintain your milk supply), which means merely feeding your baby will help you burn of some of that fat store.

You’ll still be wearing your maternity clothes for a while after baby is born, so don’t pack your skinny jeans in your hospital bag as you prepare for the birth of your baby. The important thing is to know this is normal and not to be concerned about it. Your body just created a whole other person inside of it which took nine months. You should give it the same amount of time to lose the weight.

Lugging around an extra 25 lbs is hard work and since it’s not all fat stores, I like to think we’re getting stronger in the process.

Losing weight can be a slow process after baby is born because it’s harder to get to the gym or hit the trails for a run, not only because you have a little one to care for, but because you’re tired. But it’s doable. Give your body time to recover from the most important endurance event in your life.

Trail to Road

Switching from road to trail running has its challenges, but so does switching from trail to road. First, you don’t want to run on the road with your trail shoes. Road shoes can be used on less technical trails and dirt roads. Trail shoes should not be worn on the road unless you are running a trail and have to cross the road to get to the next section. Roads and sidewalks will destroy the tread on your trail shoes. If you’re going to be running some roads, buy some road shoes or be prepared to replace your trail shoes after a few runs.

There is research out there, done by credible sources, which comes to the conclusion that the impact on your body is the same whether you run on the roads or on the trail. The theory is that your brain and your body automatically adjusts the stiffness of your legs and torso dependent on the firmness of the ground. When you’re on a trail you have to push off harder because it is a softer surface. On the road, your leg has to be less stiff and you don’t push off as hard because there is very little give in the ground.

I’ve read this research and my body disagrees. I can run a fifty-mile run on the trial and I will not be sore. If I run a marathon on the road, I will most definitely be sore the next day. Could it all be in my head? Sure, why not. The only way you’ll know if it’s true for you is to go try it.

One way to combat the soreness from running on the road is to buy high cushioned road shoes. There are a variety out there, just about every major brand of running shoe has both minimal and high cushion options. Keeping your stride length shorter will also help reduce the impact. Maintaining proper running form—head up, shoulders back, ninety-degree angle arms, nice forward and back swing without crossover, a bent knee and foot landing below you—will make sure the impact forces go through your body in the correct way.

The higher impact (in my opinion) of the roads also makes for a longer recovery between runs. Using your foam roller becomes extra important because you need to work out the knots and flush out the lactic acid which may have built up.

A few other differences are the level of pollution, number of people and cars. Out on the trail you have some critters and creatures out in the woods and some are a little scary if you run into them—mountain lion—but to me people are way more dangerous, and so are cars.

It is easier to find a toilet and to refill your water when you are running on the road. Although, a water filter and not being afraid to bare your bottom in the forest solve those problems.

I think we all run on both surfaces at some point. And there are enjoyable things about each of them. Being able to run is what matters most.

 

Road to Trail

 

Does your experience running on the road transfer to running on trail?

You’re knowledge of how your body deals with running transfers, although, not perfectly. This is because you burn about ten percent more calories running trails, which means you are going to have to fuel your body more. The other difference is hydration and electrolytes. At higher altitudes, you need to consume more water and electrolytes. Road runners do have a foot up on those who are just starting out because they have a base of knowledge.

When you first switch from road to trail, you’ll discover muscles and tendons you didn’t know you had because they are going to get tired and sore. On the trail, you have to pull in more supporting muscles and tendons as you work to balance and increase your agility. You’re stride becomes shorter and faster as you hopscotch through rocks and roots. Your ankles become stronger as they adjust to the changing surface of the trail.

Running road hills and mountains is very different. There are some difficult road hills, and you usually find them in the mountains. Running mountains requires strong hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quads. You’ll find yourself on steep grades for long distances. Few quarter mile hills here. I often find myself climbing for 6-9 miles in one go because of the switchbacks to get to ridges or peaks. Even most “flat” trails are really rolling hills.

Running down is more challenging on the road and on the trails because of the increased impact and the higher chance of over striding. Trails will keep the length of your stride under control, but they often have dips and steep drops littered with the lovable rocks and roots. Sometimes there are fallen trees and rivers too. You may have to walk some mountains because they are too steep to make it worth the energy expenditure to get up to them and you’re likely to go just as fast walking as running.

Trail running takes more time. The changing terrain, rivers, and steep/long climbs slow you down, so make sure and a lot for this if you have things you are doing after your run. Initially, you’re going to be more worn out after your runs as well. This will go away once your body is use to the higher demands of the trail.

Running in general destresses a person. Running on trails does this on a deeper level. When you are listening to birds and owls in the early mornings, rivers rumbling past, reaching a summit and looking out over row upon row of mountains it’s impossible not to just let all the stresses of life melt away.

I encourage everyone to run because of the many benefits of doing so and trails are the best place for running.

Trail Runner Road Running?

As a trail runner, I have looked at road runners with curiosity, especially those that run canyon roads. I always wonder why would you run on the road if you are right by a beautiful trail?

Is there a place for road running in a trail runners training? Yep. There are a number of reasons to run on the road as a trail runner. It’s not ideal and I try to avoid it when I can.

On vacation, it can be difficult to find nearby trails where you can get your daily dose of running, but you definitely don’t want to skip your run, so you head out on the road. Another reason to run on the road while on vacation is if you are in a place where the city because of buildings or culture is an attraction. There’s no better way to explore than running up and down streets.

Winter can be a challenging time to find trails clear enough of snow that they are runnable and not all runners take winter off or change to a winter sport. Road running in the winter poses its own challenges because it gets dark earlier and light later, make sure and take a headlamp, tail light, and reflective vest. You also need to watch for sliding cars.

Convenience is another one. Sometimes you just don’t have time to get to the mountain, but you need to run. Runners are busy people with family and work obligations. Fitting in a run can be a challenge some days. It’s okay to run on the road when you’re short on time. The trail will still love you.

Supporting a fellow runner. Beginning runners can be hesitant to jump right to trail running. If you’re pulling someone into running. Running on the road is permissible, in fact, supporting a fellow runner who is running the road is pretty much always permissible. Trail runners are some of the most community oriented runners who would give you their last drop of water or piece of food on the trail.

Recovering from an injury, especially one involving twisting of a joint. The uneven surface, rocks, roots, and river crossings ubiquitous in trail running increases the risk of re-injury. Running on the even predictable surface of a road may get you back out running earlier than if you wait until your body is ready for a trail. And the earlier you can get back out there, the less fitness you lose.

Running on the road is different than running on trails, pretty obvious. I suggest road shoes rather than your trail shoes for a few reasons. The pavement will ruin your trail shoes and trail shoes have thinner bottoms than road shoes. If you are going to be running on the road for more than a week or two, think about grabbing a pair of road shoes.

Definitely invest in a reflective vest, headlamp, and tail light if you’re running in the dark. Cars need to be able to see you as early as possible. Wearing earbuds is also something to think about because you need to be able to hear the cars approaching you.

I know there is research out there that says your body adjusts to the surface you are running on and that there is the same impact to your body regardless of what you are running on, however, my experience is different. My muscles feel the road a lot more than the trail. I can run a fifty-mile race on trail and not be sore, but if I run a marathon on the road, I’m sore.

Trail to Road

trail to road

Why would you go from running on the trails to running on the road? Of course, some people like running on the road and don’t like the trail, or at least prefer roads over trail. This baffles most trail runners who love the mountains and the challenges and variations they offer. Being in nature and away from the busy, exhaust filled streets of the city is like a mini vacation from everyday life.

Roads can be more convenient for a runner who is pressed for time and cannot drive to the mountains. I admit it is great to be able to walk out your front door and start running. Those runners who are able to do this on the mountains are lucky runners.

Heavy rain and snow can also deter some trail runners from pounding the trail rather than the road. Driving icy roads or roads piled high with snow can be dangerous. The goal is to keep running and not do anything to jeopardize our ability to run, especially for an extended time. Sliding your car off the road or into another car, is not conducive to more running.

So how do we make that transition?

There is research out there that says there is no real difference between running surfaces because our legs automatically adjust their stiffness depending on your shoes and the surface you are running on. When I read these studies, it makes sense and is a simple concept. Our brains adjust our muscle tension based upon our surrounding conditions without our being aware of them all the time.

In my experience, this is not true. I hurt less when I run a fifty-mile trail race than when I run a marathon on the road. Maybe this is because I’m more relaxed when surrounded by a natural forest as compared to a man-made brick and mortar forest. It could also be the variation in the trail and our use of more supporting muscles and tendons to adjust to an uneven surface. All I know is it is harder on my body, and in my mind that increases the risk of injury.

There are a few things you can do to minimize the impact forces of running on the road. First make sure you have a good pair of road shoes. Trail shoes tend to have less cushioning. Second, make sure your form is correct so the force of the impact travels through your body in a way that minimizes it.

The easiest way to do this is to imagine there is a string from the center of your sternum pulling you toward the sun or the moon. This keeps your chest open, shoulders back, and head up. Your knee should be slightly bent upon impact and directly under your center of gravity. Strengthen your hips and your abdominal muscles to be able to maintain proper form throughout your runs.

The smart phone app Treadmill trails shows has videos on your phone of trails and can keep you at least somewhat connected to trails when you can’t get there for whatever reason.

These two things will make that transition more gentle on your body.