Can you practise sports, run during pregnancy? We asked Maria Cristina Balboni, part of the TRM Athletes Group, which is going through an important phase in her life. Cristina is a passionate Ultra Trailer, trained by TRM since years, who has completed several races including the 125Km Ultra Trail Degli Dei. Sport for her does not mean only passion, performance but above all balance and physical well-being. So when she discovered she was expecting a baby, she continued to train, albeit in different ways. Now she is in the 7th month of pregnancy and she tells us about her experience with the TRM Coaches support.
Q. How are you coping with pregnancy in general?
I am very lucky, I have had a pregnancy with very few problems so far and it is therefore easier to face it. Pregnancy is certainly a magical moment but it is also a period in which you dedicate yourself 100% to someone else, putting yourself completely aside; it is true that even after birth there is a lot of work but during this period everything that is done for good or for bad falls directly on the baby and therefore I try to do my best to make the baby feel good. But it is also true that a woman has to feel good about herself and in sport always helps a lot.
Q. Why did you decide to keep a training program and what does your doctor think about it?
I am not an anxious person and I have tried to experience this pregnancy as simply as possible, one step at a time, without being assailed by a thousand thoughts, after all, what is more natural than this for a woman? Also, I think that our body knows for itself what is right or wrong to do in this period.
My doctor, from the beginning, advised me to do sports, he told me that there was no reason to stop suddenly just because I’m pregnant, indeed it would have been harmful.
Q. What are the main benefits in maintaining physical activity?
Continuing to do sports has helped me a lot during pregnancy also to keep the various parameters and the weight under control. In fact, I have developed diabetes gestation and I’m able to control my blood sugar with nutrition and sports activities without having to take medicines. Even now that I am almost in the 7th month, I have no problem with swollen legs or back pain. I feel perfectly able to walk for 2/3 hours, without being tired at all. For me sport is also an outlet, it makes me feel good and I just couldn’t think of doing without it for 9 months, especially for no reason. Sport has also helped me a lot mentally in this phase in which you have to put your life on standby for many things.
Q. What were the main things that changed physically and sensations?
The first thing I noticed in the 1st trimester was that I had very little energy and I immediately slowed down dramatically. I forced myself to run according to the sensations of the day, there were days when my legs turned well and days when I was really very tired. I just followed my body. If one day I didn’t feel like running, I would move the session to the next day without any sense of guilt and maybe replace it with something less tiring. In the 2nd quarter my strength magically returned and I really wanted to run. I felt I was struggling a little bit more because of the weight and the belly that was starting to become bulky but I felt really good during the run. I also continued to go to the mountains for some easy trekking. Here too the watchword was to listen to my sensations and if I didn’t feel like finishing the tour, it did nothing.I have heard many people who told me that they had stopped running during pregnancy because they did not feel it; I honestly had no problems continuing. Of course the heart rate accelerated quickly but it was enough to slow down and alternate running with a walking phase.
Q. How many days a week did you run in the 1st trimester and how many in the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy?
In the 1st trimester I always ran regularly 3 times a week, in the 2nd and 3rd trimester I ran 2 times a week until the 27th week then, unfortunately, I had to suspend because the baby wants to be born earlier than expected and they advised me to do less impacting physical activity. I follow the program developed by the TRM Coaches and have replaced running with walking or swimming. Alongside all this I also perform the free body exercises, as planned in the TRM Plan (Trail Running Plans)
Q. What advice would you give to other pregnant sports Women?
I absolutely recommend not to stop exercising except if there are real medical problems. Pregnancy is not a disease or a handicap it is just a state of our life. The body changes and of course we have to adapt physical activity to its changes, but we don’t have to think that it could hurt. Obviously, it is important to listen to yourself and to be under medical control and guided by professionals in athletic training able to develop a correct plan for you.
Thanks to Cristina for her precious testimony and good luck. By the way…, we already know it will be a girl!
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Digital Strategic Marketing Director – certified Innovation Manager – in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.