Monday, April 07, 2008

Two Hearts that Beat as One

A week or so ago, I claimed that I was going to start running again, with the goal of maybe even running a 10k race in early May. I made it clear that finishing time was not a priority—I was just hoping to attempt to maintain a certain level of fitness. Sadly, this is not going to happen.

Last week I checked in with my OB-Gyn. He said I was definitely allowed to keep running; I would just have to keep my average heart rate in the 130s-140s. Now I could do intervals, and let my heart rate get up into the 150s, but then I'd need to really slow down and let it come back down to the 120s to maintain the right average. This, of course, is to keep my heart from working too hard and possibly diverting blood from the baby to other parts of my body. Obviously, this is an important and worthy goal, and I agreed immediately.

Here's the thing, though: That "exercise" heart rate range is REALLY low. I had no idea, because I've never tracked my heart rate before. But just running with a Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of easy effort sends my heart rate soaring into the upper 160s or low 170s. Definitely off-limits!

Again, because I've never measure my heart rate, I also hadn't realized that my resting heart rate during pregnancy can rise 10-20 beats per minute, just because of all the extra blood my heart is pumping. So the upper threshold is lower, and the lower threshold is higher ... leaving me with very little room to raise my heart rate at all without exceeding my doctor's recommendations.

I did try running once within the guidelines, but it just frustrated me more than anything. I could jog easily for maybe 2 minutes, and then I'd have to walk for 5 to get my heart rate back down. It didn't feel like much of a workout, and I got so irritated at how slowly I was going. If I had planned on a walk, it would have been fine. But I wanted to run!

So I think I'm going to have to scrap the running plans and focus on walking and Pilates. I know others may pursue more aggressive exercise plans, but I don't really think I'm comfortable going against the advice of my personal physician. But at least the dog will be happy, to get so many walks!


FitGeGe said...

Oh man! That sucks!! Well, you're right to look on the bright side: at least the dog will be happy!!

Pilates is great, too; maybe this is a great time to decompress and give your body a lil break. :o)

Jonathan said...

At least you are aware of all the heart rate stuff - I bet there are a lot of people out there who have no idea and are putting their baby at risk...

M. Lubbers said...

Gege: I think you're right--I need to give my body a break and keep in mind all of the work it's doing all day long. Plus I think this forced break will make me appreciate it more when I can run again.

Jonathan: I still worry that there's many things I might be doing/not doing that puts the baby at risk. But I guess worrying about my child's welfare is part of parenting, right?;) It's up to you now, to carry the running torch for the spring!