In high school, I never thought that I’d become a runner. It wasn’t until after college that I started running (thank you to The United States Army!) and since then I’ve done a marathon, a few half-marathons (including the Tinker Bell half in Disneyland), and some community races. I was worried that I would have to stop running when I became pregnant, which would have been sad because it makes me feel so great, but if anything I think running consistently has given me more energy and made me feel more confident about giving birth. (Just 8 weeks left – eep!)
Here’s a short list of the general running gear that I used pre-pregnancy and throughout my pregnancy:
Sweaty bands headbands
I personally have the sparkly blue one and the sparkly purple one… when you’re running with no make up on and still want to have some bling. These headbands are the stretchy kind that go around your whole head to wrangle all your flyaways in (of which I have quite a few) and they are the ONLY headbands I have tried that don’t do the two things I hate about bands like this: 1 – stretch out when you wear them so the next time you put them on, it’s not tight enough and 2 – (the opposite problem) it’s too elastic and moves backward on my head while I’m running (or before I’m even out the door) and shoots off the back of my head or is dangling on my ponytail one block into my run.
The sweaty bands headbands have a velvet inner lining and just a small, about 2 inch section of elastic on the bottom that slips under your ponytail near your neck. It never slips off the back of my head (I literally wore mine for two half marathons and ALL my training running totaling hundreds of hours) and they have not stretched out in the 3 years I’ve had them. They have 600 styles to choose from including colors, designs, and logos as well as different widths depending on your preference for a thinner or thicker band. They cost about 15 dollars and they are popping up at retailers everywhere (when I got mine, they were only in little running stores). They are even sold at Target and Nordstrom now! I will never wear another headband for working out.
Armpocket Ultra i-35 Armband
Because I am generally an outdoors runner, I don’t like wearing headphones because I don’t think it’s safe with everyone texting and driving and just generally not paying much attention to the road. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve almost been hit by someone not totally stopped at a stop sign or driving too fast in a neighborhood while looking down at their phones. For these reasons, I use an armband with my phone inside on speaker mode to listen to Pandora while I run.
The one I have is by Armpocket Ultra i-35. It has two shallow pockets inside that I stick an old ID in and an emergency contact card as well as some bandaids. I also keep two pieces of gum in the smaller pocket (Dentyne Ice in spearmint, the little tablet kind so it doesn’t melt and get sticky like a stick of gum would). The band I have has a clear window for your phone to be positioned outward so you can use it even while it’s zipped up in the case, but I don’t use that. Once I set whatever Pandora station I’m feeling for that run and start my RunKeeper, I put my phone in there upside down (because the speaker is on the bottom of my Samsung Galaxy) and let it go until I get home and pull it back out again.
I don’t have super skinny arms and the sizing of this one is perfect for me. It has a large Velcro piece on the back and a stretchy layer by the front so it stays put. I’m not gonna sugar coat it, it does get sweaty and if I use it while wearing a tanktop, the sweat tends to make it slip enough that I will have to adjust if I’m out in the heat for longer than about 30 minutes, but I normally wear shirts with short sleeves so the sweat just collects into my shirt instead of into the band or onto my arm. Good news is you can throw it in the wash if it gets too disgusting.
I have used this app on my phone since May of 2012 and have logged 976 miles with it as of today. It is FANTASTIC. The basic version is free and it shows me everything I need from a run: distance, duration, pace, calories burned (based on the profile you input with your height and weight), split times (pace for each mile), and elevation charts. It also has options for audio cues pace, distance, time, etc., a countdown timer (good for me since I start it and have to put it away in my armband), an auto pause for when you stop at intersections or just stop for a break (note: if you are walking to take a break it will continue to track), and training programs for multiple distances (5K, 10K, half and full marathons).
I used RunKeeper’s half marathon training program for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in May of this year and I felt more ready for that race than any I had trained for in the past (I had trained for and run two marathons and two half marathons prior with alternate training programs.) The last cool feature is a audio dimmer that will dim your music if you are listening to it through your phone (ie Pandora or iTunes) to tell you your audio cue information so you don’t have to struggle to hear over your favorite jam. I can’t say enough good things about it and the fact that it’s free for all this is amazing to me.
Sports Bra (Moving Comfort Fiona and Under Armour HeatGear Bra)
Anyone with big boobs will tell you the right sports bra (or any bra for that matter) is CRITICAL. When I first started running back in 2005 while I was training for my first marathon, I went to a running store and spent some money on a serious sports bra. Before pregnancy, I was a 32DDD and those girls don’t tame well with some 20 dollar sports bra from a cheap big box store.
At that time, I purchased a Moving Comfort bra in a double D size (to further tame the bounce). It’s about 50 dollars but worth every penny. It has a normal bra like closure in the back (not a slip over your head elastic rib band) and has really padded straps that are adjustable with a ridiculously strong, super human Velcro. I’m serious here… you would think, Velcro? For bra straps? And running? There’s no way that will hold me in. Oh, I beg to disagree. My first Moving Comfort sports bra lasted me 2 years and even went to Army basic training with me before it got so disgusting I had to get rid of it for the sake of everyone around me. I bought another on just like it after that (but in black, the first one was white which I wouldn’t recommend only due to the dinginess factor) and wore it for years.
I continued to buy them until I moved to California last year and the rib band (which is a textured material) started really chafing my boobs underneath. In the bra’s defense, this could definitely have been due to the age and general wear and tear of running in it for so long. (By this time, I had worn this type of bra through 2 marathons, 2 half marathons (including one in the heat of Iraq), and Army training). I went to find a new one, but the Sports Authority I went to didn’t carry them so I resorted to an Under Armour bra. Again, I bought a cup size down (32DD) to keep those babies in tight and didn’t have any chafing issues after that.
This one only has a little padding on the straps (although not as padded as the Moving Comfort) and a normal bra like closure in the back. It also has a smooth rib band, unlike the Moving Comfort one. My only compliant with this one is that the straps don’t stay as well as I’d like. They adjust like a normal bra with the plastic slips but they tend to fall when I’ve been running for a long time. Because of this, I had my husband cinch mine up and pin the straps with safety pins under where I need to them to stay. I can’t feel the pins and even wash and dry the bra like that with no issues. I’ve had this one for about 15 months and it has lasted me throughout my pregnancy so far, with the only change being the adjustment to the final clips on the back as my rib cage is expanding.
Marika Tek XL running pants
I have always been the girl with the chubby thighs that rub together and tend to chafe when I run (or walk for that matter). Quick sidenote: when I was in the Army, we had a uniform for physical training (PT) that included these horrid black shorts with built in underwear (because Army men tend not to wear anything under their shorts and NOBODY wants to see all that). The shorts, like most things used to be in the Army were made for a male body and were not cut for hips or a booty. Basically, this meant that if you had either of those things, you were forced to get ones that were either way too big on your legs in order to fit your hips or were too tight on your hips in order to fit properly on your legs.
This horrible “style” led to what myself and my Army girlfriends deemed “Hungry Crotch Syndrome” or “HCS.” (Some of you are smiling to yourselves already because you’ve been witness to this before). HCS consists of the inner thigh part of your shorts being consumed by your crotch because your thighs are rubbing together and forcing them upwards to no man’s land. It’s just no good all around. It’s unpleasant and uncomfortable to deal with yourself (who wants to spend every other step trying to bow your legs out to let gravity help or to pull them down everytime they ride up) and it’s disturbing to see from an outsiders perspective (ow, that looks painful… or holy crap, that person needs new shorts).
Anyway, that all being said, I opt for long biker shorts or stretchy pants for working out. When I got pregnant, I wore my same running shorts for about 4 months until I started getting enough of a bump that they felt super tight on my waist and were rolling down my stomach while I was running. I tried to wear some of my other bigger sized pants but with my growing bump, the waistband would slip down causing my pants to literally start falling off and the very tops of my thighs to start rubbing together and chafing. I went to Target and got a pair of Marika Tek stretchy capri length pants that were in an XL. I got them on clearance for 10 dollars and they have grown with me through my pregnancy up to now (32 weeks) with no problems. They have a wide waistband that I can pull up really high and it doesn’t leave marks on my stomach. They are also really soft and comfortable.
Sidenote: when Carly and I went to the ABC Kids Expo last weekend, there was one product that I was completely fawning over: the 2XU pregnancy running pants and shorts. They look like regular 2XU compression running pants but with the maternity pants elastic panel for your baby bump. I totally wish that I could have taken a pair home with me but they aren’t technically for sale yet (soon!!). They are also making postnatal pants with a more of a tummy compression for after baby that I am looking forward to trying out and I promise to report back.
Always Discreet Pads
This one was a pretty crucial one for me as I started running with a bump. Although I had been running for about 6 months consistently before pregnancy, the one thing I noticed that was different was the fact that I felt like I always had to pee. It didn’t matter if I had gone 10 minutes before I left the house (or 30 seconds before I left the house), the growing pressure that I felt in my bladder was extremely uncomfortable. First, I tried wearing a panty liner but during running because it was so thin, it would get all bunched up in my underwear and shift which is just no good. Also, if I happened to leak a little (sorry to say, but it happens) it wasn’t very absorbent and I would inevitably come home with a wet spot on my pants.
I found these Always Discreet Pads one day while doing my normal grocery shopping and decided to give them a try. They are a little bulky (very bulky if you’re used to nothing or used to just a panty liner) but it stayed put during every run and if I leaked a little, it was absorbent and I had no issues because, hey, that’s what they are meant to do (they are originally designed for sensitive bladders or incontinence)! It was also great because I tend to have quite a bit more discharge while I’m running than normal (and more than normal while pregnant) and it contained all of that.
Bladder control felt worse when I was going downhill so I tried to stay on relatively flat surfaces, but during month 4 of pregnancy running, I really had to run and walk on intervals so I could give my bladder a break. I would run for two minutes and walk for 30 seconds while my bladder regained its composure. After doing intervals for about a two weeks, I started running for as long as I could without stopping and, honestly, the comfort of knowing that if there was a tiny accident, it wouldn’t be leaking through my pants, was really nice. Now, I just slap one of these babies in before every run and I have zero issues.
Just a quick note: I never leave any kind of pad or panty liner on longer than I have to for working out because the warmth and moisture combination tends to breed a lot of bacteria and can lead to yeast infections, which are much more prominent for pregnant women. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
BONUS ITEM – Fitbit
Throughout my pregnancy I have really focused on staying active. I have always been the kind of person that would rather exercise than diet and I remained that way during pregnancy. I like to eat what I want to eat and not restrict myself but I also didn’t want to use my pregnancy as an excuse to sit around eating Chips Ahoy and doing nothing just because I was making a human. One thing that really helped me stay motivated and active was my Fitbit.
Recently, these little trackers have become all the craze. When I was about 3 months pregnant, I got the cheapest version (Fitbit Flex) which tracks steps, calories, distance, and active minutes and only shows the little light up dots for each 2,000 steps I reach. I do wish mine was also a watch, but that one, the Fitbit Charge, was too bulky for me.
Having a Fitbit has helped me by not only keeping me accountable but by motivating me to get up and move when I haven’t reached my 10,000 steps for the day and gotten that satisfying vibration on my wrist. I walk during my lunch break at work and walk or run with the dog in the evening. The only thing I don’t like about it is the fact that my arm needs to be moving (as oppose to a pedometer that tracks from your hip) and if I’m walking the dog and on the phone, my arm isn’t swinging back and forth as it would normally. I don’t always get to 10,000 steps but some days, the activity I can get in has to be enough for me (also, you’d be amazed at how many steps you get in daily just doing your normal activities like walking around your office or cleaning your house).