Freedom, it’s a wonderful thing. And as our ‘Free World’ turns itself upside down, I have paused and thought a thousand times in the past few weeks about what freedom means for Mums. Speaking out recently via Nike Run Club has generated so many lovely messages and even more questions from many of you...Being told, when you are pregnant, that you can't run is just one in a long list of ‘can’ts’ we are mistakenly sold.
Well I'm here to say, as a Mum, YOU CAN! Not just about running, but about a whole host of things from identity, belief, sport, movement, body, career, aspirations, goals, equality, education to biggest of all which is being able to say, “I CAN'T”. YES!!! To that one right there. YOU have the right to say - "I can't do this" It’s the one that can take the biggest amount of courage and the one for which we lack most support.
Getting rid of the doubt, removing the no sayers from your life, and surrounding yourself with everything that enables you to choose what's best for YOU (which btw is inherently best for your children too.) puts a whole new meaning into the words RUN FREE. And it's going to be my focus for the next few weeks, whether running, as in running, or running, as in running your world! We all need to run free.
In my earlier years as a mum, my way of finding freedom was to go out and run. I know many of you reading this will relate to that - whether it’s a walk, a run, a commute to work - that little 30 minute slot alone is goldust! The one chance to be on your own without someone drawing you into their world. It’s the combination of moving big, being out in the elements, the rhythm of your feet, and listening, either to the quiet or to the beat. It does as much for your mental health as it does for your physical.
A survey published in the BMJ in 2018, with around 1,300 female runners, found that during pregnancy, 45% stopped running and, for the 55% who continued to run, there were no adverse effects on either babies weight or the chances of preterm labour - in short, running appeared perfectly safe.* The runners were also able to enjoy the health benefits that have been well documented for women who continue to exercise during pregnancy. It did however find that there was a higher incidence of assisted birth in women who run. This all needs more research - of those who continued to run, there would have been individual differences that made that possible and also why there are individual differences that for some women make it just not possible - this needs to be acknowledged. We also know that exercise such as yoga is reported to calm and help women prepare for labour - this calming aspect is something that we need to bring out in all our training programmes and why I focus on it hugely with the women I train. If you consider mental preparation as much as physical, running and pregnancy can be hugely aligned - but you do have to take the right approach. As with other vigorous types of exercise, how this impacts on your pelvic floor is key…. And this will have a direct impact on how you birth.
We really do need to be focusing on how to maximise pelvic floor health, not just through pregnancy but before, afterwards and for the rest of our lives. It’s why our approach to running has to be considered. We should always run with a purpose. During pregnancy that purpose has to be about the biggest and strongest endurance event of all - birth. Head to my Instagram platform to see my posts on the Pelvic Floor, how to prepare in pregnancy and how to recover post birth. Note here that this is useful for anyone, not just mothers. Also look out for more guided runs from me with Nike Run Club.
I encourage you all to listen...
...We have all been born and have a
mother who birthed us...
It's the one thing we all have in common.
Why wouldn’t you want to know more?
While I’m here - would love to let you know about our amazing membership packages. Whilst you can buy blocks of sessions for either in-studio or live streamed classes, our membership packages allow you to do either one or the other or both! They are also cheaper and the more sessions you do, the cheaper it gets. Membership is in 6 month blocks and whilst you pay monthly, for as little as £40 per month, you get all your sessions up front so you can use them however you like over the 6 months. For more information, go to our timetable page or contact Caroline direct firstname.lastname@example.org.
* https://bmjopensem.bmj.com/content/4/1/e000296 Is recreational running associated with earlier delivery and lower birth weight in women who continue to run during pregnancy? An international retrospective cohort study of running habits of 1293 female runners during pregnancy