Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Excess Weight and Running

Today's Workout:
5 mile run

Hello Friends and Happy Hump Day!
As you all may know by now, I'm almost 5 months pregnant and growing from every angle. Everything in my body is growing (getting a visual yet? lol). My belly is growing, my lovely lady humps (front and rear) are growing, my feet are swollen, the list keeps going and going. Despite the changes in my body, I have continued running and exercising. Not only is it keeping me sane, but it also has many beneficial effects for the baby.

My baby bump at 4 months
My running pace has obviously gotten slower, not only because it's hot and humid outside, but also because of the added weight. Admittedly I say that this is very frustrating because I'm used to running at a moderate to fast pace, but it's actually quite normal to run slower when one gains weight.
So why does weight gain make you run slower?
A study that was conducted by Kirk Cureton at the University of Georgia in 1978 found that when runners used weighted vests their oxygen uptake was significantly higher. Basically, the excess weight required them to consume more oxygen thus making them run slower. Another study conducted by Lenart Teunissen, Alena Grabowski and Rodger Kram found that added weight has an effect on the amount of energy used when one runs. The researchers used a harness system and weighted belts on their subjects and they discovered that the extra weight caused a downward pull on the subject's body, which forced them to use more energy to run. The researchers concluded that the extra energy that the runners needed caused them to run slower.
So this obviously explains why I'm running slower, but guess what, researchers have suggested that women who run and exercise while pregnant actually become stronger and faster after they give birth. They believe that the added weight helps build strength and endurance.
Aside from the added weight, pregnant women's blood volume rises which causes an over-production of red blood cells. Translation in English: The extra blood volume, which is full of oxygen and red blood cells, provides extra oxygen in the muscles. The extra oxygen makes you stronger and faster. This super mom effect usually lasts a few months after giving birth (this is a good time to train and race!). This makes me happy =D.

Have you ever ran with a weighted vest? How did that feel?
I'm grateful for the laughter I
share with friends. 
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  1. Never run with a weighted vest before, but that whole "supermom effect" sounds really cool! Glad you're researching and keeping active (and safe) for the baby! :D

    1. Thank you! Safety is paramount right now!

  2. Hi - I found your blog when I was searching for blogs by pregnant athletes. I really like the information you shared about the benefits athletes get from pregnancy. I just wrote a blog post myself about the benefits of prenatal exercise for maternal and baby health in general! Way to keep up being active!

    1. Hello! Thank you for dropping by! I would love to read some of your posts. I will check them out. Free feel to share info with me--I'm still learning =).

  3. Really cool info however I won't be pregnant anytime in this lifetime :-P but explains a lot to those who are slightly or moderately overweight and started to exercise and initially have a hard time with respirations. Great post as usual Erika. Thanks.

    1. Frank you're too funny! But it's cool to know the info right? ;)