top of page

Running in Pregnancy

I gave birth in 2009 and 2013 and both times I returned to running soon afterwards. I really believe that gentle exercise helped me during my pregnancy and after I had given birth. Here are my top tips and advice for running in pregnancy.

The Golden Rule of Running In Pregnancy

Throughout my pregnancy I had one golden rule that I stuck to:


The health and wellbeing of my baby comes first at all times!


This was at the forefront of my mind with every decision I made. This means that running schedules either have to be dropped or they have to be highly flexible with nothing set in stone! This is because one day you are going to feel good and the next day you might feel dreadful and it’s really important that you respond appropriately and listen to your body. If you feel too tired don’t run! Personally I never used rigid running schedules during my pregnancies!

The only exception here is to have a very flexible schedule to use just as a rough guide. This could include reminders of how much is enough and the correct intensity. You might aim for a certain number of runs per week but with the stipulation that this is the best case scenario and that anything less is because you were being sensible!

Time Your Training


During the early stages of pregnancy I felt really sick. I didn’t feel like eating and the last thing I wanted to do was to go outside and run! However, I found that if I ate a larger portion when I felt less sick and went running during the parts of the day when I felt better I could keep some training going. It was all pretty random but I was able to maintain some gentle running.

Reduce Your Training Volume, Intensity and Frequency

Your running is going to be massively affected by your pregnancy. My volume dropped from over 100 miles per week down to around 20 miles per week. The pace I ran was significantly slower too.


My volume and intensity during pregnancy was related to how much I ran before pregnancy. So 20 miles for me was only 20% of what I did before pregnancy. I used a heart rate monitor and kept below 140 beats per minute. I was not interested in running fast, it was all about running at a safe pace. The frequency with which I ran also become quite irregular. If I felt tired I might not run for as much as three or four days in a row. Then if I felt good again I would run for maybe two or three days in a row.


Keep It Cool


I avoided running in the heat at all times. In 2013 when I was pregnant with my daughter Emily there was a heat wave in July. I trained in the late evening when it was cooler and I sometimes used woodland trails for more shade. I also used my treadmill with a big fan blasting me the whole time to keep me cool. Over heating is not good for the baby and so must be avoided at all times. Remember it’s always better to air on the side of caution and miss a run rather than take even the slightest risk!

Let Your Body Dictate What You Do


In general all this adds up to letting your body dictate what you do and being in tune with how you feel on a day to day basis. It’s about being responsible and not worrying too much about actual fitness levels. If you follow these simple rules then you’ll probably end up doing enough running to maintain some fitness and conditioning. This will make your return to running so much easier. It may also help you through pregnancy as being fit and healthy brings many benefits. If you are fitter then you are probably going to cope with the strain of pregnancy that little bit better. For instance, I never experienced any ankle swelling and this may be related to my state of fitness. I generally felt good during the second and third trimesters.

When To Stop Running


During my first pregnancy I did find that in the final few weeks I got more tired and so I stopped running about 3 weeks before I gave birth. Some women run right up to the day before giving birth but I just did what I felt comfortable with. You can take on board all the advice you want but sometimes I think you should go with your own instincts and my feeling was that it was time to stop running.

A Few Words of Caution


Never take up running as a new activity when pregnant. Only run during pregnancy if you were running prior to pregnancy and always seek medical advice throughout your pregnancy. Running in pregnancy is good for both mother and baby but not in all circumstances. For some it can be the exact opposite and there are certain circumstances that make running in pregnancy contraindicated. Therefore you must always seek medical advice on a regular basis and if in doubt do not run. Remember always put the health of your baby first!

Here is a summary and a few additional little tips that might help:

  • Always put the health and wellbeing of your baby first.

  • If you can time your run with the part of the day when you feel your best.

  • Reduce your running volume, intensity and frequency.

  • Consider using a heart rate monitor* and keep at least 25% or more below max.

  • Avoid hot weather and keep cool.

  • Listen to your body and let it dictate what you do.

  • Always let someone know your route and when to expect you back.

  • Keep hydrated before, during and after each run.

  • Run on softer surfaces to reduce impact (you’re going to be heavier).

  • Try to avoid really uneven or rough terrain so that you reduce the risk of falling on your bump.

  • Wear looser fitting running gear. (I borrowed some of my husbands running tops when my bump got really big.)

  • Take a mobile phone for emergencies.

  • Invest in a decent sports bra or supportive crop top.

  • Don’t use strict running schedules when pregnant.

  • If you feel bad then stop. Walk back or if necessary ring someone to come and pick you up.

  • Take a healthy snack with you when out and about. This is to avoid your blood sugars dropping.

  • If possible try to run with someone else. My husband accompanied me on most of my runs.

  • I used shorter routes running lots of laps so that I could cut my run short if necessary.

  • Seek medical advice on a regular basis.

  • Avoid doing any rigorous strength or core type exercises on your back. You can risk restricting major blood vessels and it’s important to avoid this so you don’t restrict blood flow to your baby.

  • Do some very gentle pelvic floor type exercises but be very careful when on your back.

  • Don’t worry about putting on weight, it’s a natural part of pregnancy. It's good for both you and your baby.


*If you don’t use a heart rate monitor then don’t worry as you can simply run on how you feel. You should be running really easy and be able to hold a continuous conversation without effort. If in any doubt run slower or stop.

I hope some of this is helpful.

Jo x

bottom of page