Healthy Habits

Running Pregnant : First Trimester

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, midwife or nurse. The information expressed in the series “Running Pregnant – By” should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before running during pregnancy and postpartum.

So now that the cat is out of the bag and everybody basically knows about out little present that is on its way I can finally start with the new feature that I will be running over the following weeks.

That is  – Running Pregnant – 

As per my previous post I said after finding out that I am pregnant I started to do some research for running while pregnant, it was very frustrating and the information that is out there is quite limited.

The first trimester of your pregnancy is very scary, not only do you have to come to terms with all the changes that your body is going through, going to go through and all the plans you had made for the future that will now change. Whether you were planning your pregnancy or not it’s still a hell of realisation to think that everything as you know it is going to change.

Looking back now I probably fell pregnant the first week of July 2017. July as everyone who is following me knows was hell. We moved into our first house which was a shocker for me, moving and having your whole world turned upside down is not as much fun as I thought. I also learned that I don’t always cope toooo well with change. I got bronchitis, this is the worst sickness I’ve had since I was probably a child. And I only ran a total of 28Km for the whole month. I mainly blamed my poor performance on the environmental changes and on me recovering from being sick. But somehow, I just kept feeling completely exhausted unable to recover.

So it seems it was due to the pregnancy. After I found out I was determined to still continue with my running. After all I am the girl always telling my friends and other people that it’s completely ridiculous to think that now that you are pregnant you can’t or should stop exercising. But what I found out was not that I don’t need to, but that it’s all just so much harder.

I’m in my second trimester now, so I’m starting to feel better. Below you can have a read how I would describe my first trimester whilst running.

*UPDATE* Please note the sections where you see the stars, I’ve made a few updated of my running pregnant journey the second time around! MY previous pregnancy was so easy – I;m saying that now as I’m in my 2nd trimester of my second pregnancy! lol – the 2nd time around things are different so check for the *UPDATE* notification to know what is different the second time round!

Tired, No Exhausted!

So I was tired all the time, like I’ve never felt this exhausted in my life. It was the strangest feeling for me and although it gets a little better, I have a feeling the tiredness is gonna stick. Thinking about it now, it does make sense – I mean you are making another HUMAN!

I tried really hard to get up early in the mornings for my run, but I was just too tired, and involuntarily ended up oversleeping, like I had no control over my routine!

After work I was also just tired, I hate to admit this, but I could barely keep my eyes open as I was driving home in traffic! And at night I just wanted to eat and then sleep. I had no energy for running. Over the weekends I would go to bed really early Friday and Saturday night just so I could be fresh for my much anticipated run in the morning, hahaha after my run I would have breakfast and then take a nap! It was very relaxing I might add!

I stopped feeling guilty about not running now, I rather started to concentrate on getting good quality sleep and then a good quality run, and if I only managed two runs a week then that was ok. You have to give yourself a break, the exercise won’t be worth it if you’re not well rested, and you’ll just be a cranky-tired hormonal B and your poor partner will suffer for it!

But when I did run I found that I felt completely unfit, and out of breath. It was like I had to put in double the effort to move that I previously had to. I kept trying to stay to my normal pace but it was too hard. The doctor recommended that I run at an “conversational pace” , as long as I could run and talk comfortably then I was doing good. The other 2 important things are to not overheat and to not get dehydrated. as long as I sicked to that it worked.

So when I could run, here was my trick – I cut down on my pace, got slower music on my I-pod to help me run slower. I made the decision to run shorter distances and slower pace. My pace actually went from an average of 5:00min/km to 7:00min/km. In the beginning I felt a little like a failure, but I made peace with it and accepted my situation, and after two weeks my body adjusted and I can now almost run at my old normal pace.

So don’t worry, you’re not broken! You’ll get back into things soon enough!

How I counter Exhaustion:

  • Do 2-3 good runs a week, and rest well in between
  • Eat well. Make sure your nutrition is up to scratch, eat high in Iron foods.
  • Adjust your training – and learn to accept that things are changing. the sooner you do this, the sooner you can get back to quality running.


Morning Sickness:

More like the entire day sickness!!! In my second pregnancy I truly experienced morning sickness – it is Horrible! It literally puts you in the position where you either don’t feel like eating, but your starving, and when you do feel like eating you just want to vomit! and to make matters worse – your not consuming half the calories you need to be able to train, so you also don’t have the energy.

So this was very hard for me and very demotivating to be honest. I also got the worst headaches that just seemed to make the nausea worse! and the medication you can drink is so limited, and half the time your unsure if it really really is ‘ok’ to drink the medication?

How I counter the Morning sickness:

  • This is hard, so my only advice it to take it easy and tank it out! Eat when you can and run when you can. and if you can’t , then take a Panado for the headache and take a nap.
  • I tried hard to figure out what my body wanted to eat and what not – and just go with it. If you eat yogurt and muesli for a week straight and it works then that is fine! all my baby was allowing me in my second pregnancy was toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches. and some nights my husband would come home and that’s all we ate.
  • See if you can get a pregnancy shake or something similar that you can drink that can help you to replace the things that food can’t at the moment. Some days this worked for me and other days it didn’t.
  • Hold on the iron, multivitamins and fish tablets and get yourself a pregnancy supplement that at least gives you only the folic acid you need. Unfortunately the Iron and fish pills can definitely increase the nausea – so you can cut them out in the beginning to help with the morning sickness.


So from what I have heard from other mothers, this feeling will never ever go away again!

Your constantly scared, “am I running to fast?”, “Is everything ok in there?!”, “am I being selfish?”

I literally ran some days just praying to God as I ran – “Please, please, please don’t take my present away, please” , repeating it the whole distance. I think I even like zoned out of listening to music, I was so afraid. But after our first doctors visit I actually started running more.

I actually fell at 9 weeks pregnant at a trail race, about 13Km into the race, I wasn’t running too fast, but I was very tired, and I lost concentration bumped my foot and fell really fast face and upper body first. I couldn’t push my hands out fast enough so I basically fell on my chest and tummy. Two Ladies helped me up fast and dusted of my face and everything, I was in complete shock. Actually terrified because I had no way of knowing if anything was wrong.

I’m very happy to say that nothing happened, but it did put a few things in perspective for me, I would have to slow down and be more careful. So all you can do is take care and pray, and hold onto the next appointment date to see if everything is ok. Most of the time it will be ok, but it’s just such a big unknown!

How I counter the Fear:

  • This is hard, like I said it never really goes away. Know that you are doing the best you can, and ensure that you are taking the necessary steps to keep your body in an optimum condition to take care of baby.
  • Pray, allot, and have faith. God made our Bodies much stronger than we realize, you have all the tools to take care even if your a little unsure in the beginning.
  • If there is ever a doubt – stop and reassess the Situation, and decide if what you want to do is necessary, how it will help you and if it is good for you both.

Hunger vs Weight gain:

Now you’ve heard of the saying “eating for two” it’s actually a saying I hate! Such a lie, but what I have found is that although you might not have to eat for two, it feels like you have to!!

OH MY GOODNESS, I’m hungry all the time!

In actual fact you shouldn’t up you calorie intake too much below is what they say on What to Expect:

First trimester: You actually won’t likely need any additional calories during your first trimester. Instead, you should focus on choosing nutritious foods that keep your energy up while supporting your baby’s development.

Second trimester: Up your daily calorie intake by 300 to 350 calories per day — that’s the equivalent of, say, two glasses of skim milk and a bowl of oatmeal (not the all-you-can-eat sundae bar you were envisioning).

Third trimester: You’ll need about an extra 500 calories per day.

If you’re carrying multiples: Add an additional 300 calories per day for each baby.

But you have to work according to your body and see what works for you, in the first trimester I upped my calorie intake by 500 calories, like you don’t understand how hungry I am. I picked up about 3.6km at 11weeks, and this will probably continue and it should, in the end its good for Baby.

Also remember if you’re running you also burning calories so it’s important to ensure that you’re both getting what you need. If you sugar drops then you will feel tired, light headed and just awful and you won’t be able to function normally, never mind run at least 5km!

I also found that if did not keep hunger pangs at bay I would get nauseous! My number one rule now for keeping morning sickness (or anytime of the day sickness for that matter) away is keeping my tummy full.

This is what I would eat on a normal work day:

4:00 am –  Apple – then I would go Run either in the morning or just after 17:00pm

5:00-6:00 am  – 400ml of Full cream milk with 100g serving of Future Life

8:00 am – 100g full cream Yogurt

10:00 am – 5 cups of slated popcorn (NOT MICROWAVE POPCORN)

11:00-12:00 pm – Lunch

13:00-14:00 pm – 3 Fruits

15:00 pm – 2nd lunch

18:00-19:30 pm – Dinner (I was usually so bloated that I had to divide my dinner in two)

20:30-21:00 pm – I’d eat the Rest of my dinner, 100g Yogurt + Tea before bed.

I also found that if I ate just before bed then I would not feel sick the next morning. On weekends when I get up much later than in the week, I found my morning sickness is quite bad. I truly believe it is because my body waits longer for food, for example I would eat breakfast maybe only at 8:00am-9:00am on a weekend where as in the week I would already start eating at 4:00am

So work out your meal plan per day and stick to it. It’s also important to be prepared to prevent yourself from getting so hungry that you just end up eating take-always and other crap, this will cause you to spend unnecessary amounts of money and it will cause you to gain weight that is unnecessary.

Think about every unplanned meal and money spent on take-always as money taken from cute baby clothes! (Hahaha, works for me!)

How I counter the Hunger:

  • Always be in control. Always plan your meals and be ready for anything, I stash oranges in my handbag along with peanuts and non perishables. Just be prepared for anything.
  • Think of what your eating is not only for you, its for Baby too, and its unfair feeding baby crap when they are at the mercy of your choices.
  • Make peace with weight gain, Embrace it, but don’t over do it, make good choices.

Uncomfortable, Bloating and Constipation:

Unfortunately these are the three things that have been really bad for me so far.

I’m sure all woman carry differently and will feel differently in their pregnancies, but this is how I feel so far.

At about 12 weeks I’m uncomfortable, and really bloated, I cannot believe that his baby is already pushing out like this.

Week 4-5 belly measured: 70-75cm, pretty flat

Week 7-9 belly measured: 80-85cm, looked like I just had a little pooch

Week 9-12 belly Measured: 87-90cm, I feel like I look 5 Months pregnant

I am a little concerned at how big I’m already because I still have such a long way to go! But I think I feel bigger than I look.

My Breasts hurt quite allot and that doesn’t really work to well with running – I’ve had to start wearing a wire running bra, along with another sports bra on top for added non-moving support. This makes breathing a little harder, which is not that nice but it is necessary unfortunately.

I get very bloated and uncomfortable after I have eaten, this is a bit of an adjustment for me. It reminds me of how uncomfortable I felt when I was overweight, but at least this is not a food baby – Yay! It’s a real one! So that is a bit of a consolation prize I guess.

This has at least not affected my running – but this does make you feel like you just want to sit or lay down but this won’t make you feel better. I found that going for a run,walk or for a swim really helped me to just get comfortable and to get things working so that I could deal with the constipation.

So constipation: When you’re pregnant your body increases the hormone progesterone, which relaxes smooth muscles, including your digestive tract. This means that food passes through your intestines more slowly. Iron supplements, especially in high doses, can make constipation worse.

I found that drinking lots of water and moving around regularly helped with the constipation. You can also drink high fibre fruit juices to help get things going.

Otherwise, I think it’s just something you must work out a routine around and figure out what works for you, because from what I’ve read so far it’s just going to continue!

Constipation rarely is a sign of something that is wrong but occasionally constipation during pregnancy can be a symptom of another problem. If you have severe constipation that’s accompanied by abdominal pain, alternates with diarrhea, or you pass mucus or blood, call your doctor or midwife immediately.

How I counter the C+B+U:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Do not stop excersising
  • Figure out what food helps and make it worse – Like i love eating carrots and beet, only to find out that my body now doesn’t like it…
  • Don’t sit for long periods of time, move around at least once an hour
  • Don’t wear tight fitting clothes
  • Don’t get discouraged, some days are good and others bad, but they get better again.

Otherwise than the above I’m very happy to be in the second Trimester, My energy is going up and my head is becoming clearer again, so hopefully I get to run more and make less mistakes at work!

Next I will do a post on running a half marathon at 12 weeks pregnant and after that the follow up on what the Second trimester is like!

(Click here to go to the Second Trimester)

If you have any questions or would like to chat let me know!

Happy Running




  • Elana Shaw

    HI there
    Well done on running while pregnant. with my first pregnancy I found out i was pregnant with my son after running a full marathon…worst run of my life. and then the tiredness came…omg. it was insane. just keep running until you don’t feel comfy and get a good bra.

    • Jani du Toit

      Hi Elana
      Wow thats insane! I ran a 21km the otherday, and my body was exhausted after – I’m sticking to the shorter routes now until baby comes.
      Thank you for commenting! Thank you I will remember that!
      Think I’ll go Bra shopping soon, Lol!

  • zANELE

    Hi Jan, I’m on the 15th week now. I couldn’t run at all during my first trimester due to exhaustion. Now I’m in the second trimester my energy Is picking up but I’m experiencing lower back pains, I can hardly stand up for longer period. my doctor said I can only do short runs and walks but that seems impossible now with my back aches. AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO IS EXPERIENCING THIS? I’m SO SAD THAT I’M NOT RUNNING CHAPPIES RACE THIS MONTH AND WILL MISS TWO OCEANS NEXT YEAR

    • Jani du Toit

      Hi Zanele, 15 weeks, that’s so great! I’m at 16/17 weeks now, So I totally get the exhaustion! Were moving into the second trimester now so you body is starting to go through more visible changes now. I went to the docket last week for my regular check up and she told me to be careful of picking up heavy things as you back muscles (Along with a lot of other muscles in you body) are starting to relax more. During pregnancy, your body makes a hormone called relaxin that allows ligaments in the pelvic area to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. The same hormone can cause ligaments that support the spine to loosen, leading to instability and pain.

      I haven’t experienced intense back pain as of yet but this weekend I had a little uncomfortable after being very busy bending and cleaning in the house. I get really bad tummy muscle pains after a long run and have resorted in getting a belly support band to help with some extra support. I’m looking into getting a belly support belt, this gives allot more support than the band, and I believe that if it gives support to your tummy it should give to your back as well.

      Have a look at under moms to be they have a whole section called support belts, I have the Seamless Maternity Support Band. But I heard from another runner that she ran up until 3 days before her delivery with the Support belt – which I think is the Adjustable Overbelly Support Belt – Have a look , most of they products are available in Baby stores and also Dis-chem.

      Thank you for the Comment and stay tuned for the second trimester post as well as training logs. Let me know if there is anything else. Love the chat!

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