Monday, June 7, 2010

Pregnancy Running Heart Rate Test 2 - Let's Take Heat Out of the Equation

So yesterday after I blogged, it took me a while to really get past that initial gut reaction of disappointment... and fear.  Yes, let's confront one of the big reasons I'm so freaked out.  I think we should go ahead and get that emotion hurdle out of the way.

I have a chronic medical condition, fibromyalgia, that running has been so beneficial at helping me control for the last 5 years I've been running.  I'm the healthiest I have ever been, and there are actually days I wake up and don't immediately feel and know that it's a another day I have this.  And my first pregnancy was hard.  Doc says there isn't a ton of data on pregnant women with the condition, especially ones who have managed their condition without drugs or major daily activity changes for 10 years.  I had come off injury and didn't have a strong base when I got pregnant, and you can't build a base during pregnancy!  With normally having some level of muscular tenderness, soreness, or pain, the growth of my belly with the baby was very painful.  I tried physical therapy, almost weekly massage, and was seeing my chiropractor twice a week to get through this.  It threw my body into a "fibromyalgia flareup" that had me on some bedrest and a lot of pain the last few months of the pregnancy.  So I'm scared of feeling so bad again in this pregnancy.

And then we have the C-section required when I have this kiddo.  I broke my tailbone during labor with my first, so there's an almost certain risk I would break it again with a normal delivery.  I'm nervous because it's something people can take nonchalantly, but it's surgery, it's cutting you open, it's stitches, and it's recovery.  And I want a fast recovery by being at my best health.

Finally, I'm scared of being shut out of this hobby I love for so many months.  Of course that's scary - I have so many running friends and will get many many months of watching everyone else's running and not my own, and it will make my heart ache.  Anyone who's had to sit on the sidelines due to injury knows this feeling.  I don't want to miss running.

I Know Such Great Runners
Everyone gave me such great feedback to my last post.  Part of my big conflict has been that if my perceived exertion was low (conversational pace) then why did my heart rate have to betray me (higher heart rate that the doc doesn't want).  I appreciated the reminders that yesterday was really hot and humid, and I enjoyed hearing that other docs were more driven by perceived exertion rather than the outdated 140 rule.  I went out online and found the Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on exercise during pregnancy and postpartum.  Quoting from it: "The ACSM recommends that intensity should be 60–90% of maximal heart rate or 50–85% of either maximal oxygen uptake or heart rate reserve. The lower end of these ranges (60–70% of maximal heart rate or 50–60% of maximal oxygen uptake) appears to be appropriate for most pregnant women who did not engage in regular exercise before pregnancy, and the upper part of these ranges should be considered for those who wish to continue to maintain fitness during pregnancy."  It goes on to say "Ratings of perceived exertion have been found to be useful during pregnancy as an alternative to heart rate monitoring of exercise intensity. For moderate exercise, ratings of perceived exertion should be 12–14 (somewhat hard) on the 6–20 scale. Evidence of the efficacy of this approach is that, when exercise is self paced, most pregnant women will voluntarily reduce their exercise intensity as pregnancy progresses."

Heart Rate Test 2 - Indoors - Elliptical
To the task at hand, I hopped on the elliptical for 30 minutes, 12 seconds, doing 3.5 miles at a nice comfortable pace.  My confidence grew as I saw my heart rate stay a nice constant rate right around 130. Yes! Up to 140 when my mom called and I talked to her for a few minutes during the workout.  When I finished, it took about 40 seconds to get my heart rate back down to 96. 

Great, so elliptical workouts are "in" with no conflict, controversy, or discussion needed! Busy the next two evenings, but looking forward to some evening outdoor run tests later in the week to try some slower paces, more walk breaks, and less humidity and see how the heart rate responds!

For now, know that my hope is renewed!


  1. I am glad you feel better about things. Pregnancy is so hard-- you don't need to add other stress. I couldn't exercise at ALL with my first pregnancy (low placenta) and it was tough (and that was before I became a runner... I couldn't imagine now). I didn't know about your fibromyalgia. Wow- you do have a lot to deal with. I hope this pregnancy goes much better than the last one.

    keep it up!

  2. Great news! I guess there's also a chance your nerves got the better of you yesterday, too. Best of luck, Libby.