Modern Faces of Pregnant Running

If you’ve ever seen a pregnant runner bouncing along the side of the road, odds are you stared. You might not admit it, but you did. I sure have
There’s something very intriguing, very interesting, very…inspiring
about seeing a woman gracefully loping by with a perfectly round bump protruding from their pelvis, springing right along with her. Although it’s still not an extremely common sight, it’s becoming more socially accepted and understood as safe as more women continue running throughout various stages of pregnancy.

Professional runner Paula Radcliff is one of the best-known faces of pregnant runners in recent professional circles. Radcliff began her training for the 2007 New York City marathon while pregnant then, just nine months after giving birth to her first child, she won it. Radcliff then ran throughout her second pregnancy at 36-years-old to stay in shape for the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London.

Portland, Oregon native Kara Goucher became a poster child for pregnant runners in 2010, partially because she happens to be stunningly beautiful, but also because she had the fastest debut marathon time ever for an American (2:25:53 at the 2008 Boston Marathon) and was a hopeful for a medal in the 2012 London Olympics. She seemed like the girl who could perhaps do and be it all: professional runner, gorgeous, wife, and mother.

Radcliff and Goucher actually attracted quite the hullabaloo by training together in 2010, as they were an excellent physical match for one another and were even due to give birth on the same day. Both women stressed that although they trained every day in pregnancy, their training was certainly at a lower intensity and overall distance than when they were not, you know, growing another person. It must be noted, of course, that a scaled back training regiment for Radcliff and Goucher was still far beyond any average runner’s capabilities. They were still running 60-80 miles a week.

Whether inspired by Radcliff and Goucher, or just another hardcore runner at heart, non-professional runner Amber Miller made national headlines in 2011 by completing the Chicago Marathon at 39 weeks pregnant. Miller explained her amazing race as a surprise even to her, as she had only intended to begin the race and stop when it got to be too much. After six and a half hours of running, she crossed the finish line and dropped the jaws of several onlookers. Hours later, Miller gave birth to a healthy 7 pound 13 ounce daughter.

Any other readers feeling a little inadequate at the moment?

So long as the mother is already in running shape prior to becoming pregnant, and is listening to her body’s queues, it has been proven that running while pregnant is not harmful to the mother or the baby. Quite the contrary; it’s actually a great way to stay in shape and deliver fresh blood and oxygen to your growing baby. However, this only goes for women who are already regular runners. Pregnancy is absolutely not the right time to take up a new sport – unless it’s prenatal yoga – to get into shape.

Miller, of course is a rarity and should not be viewed as a new standard. Although she was able to complete the race and deliver her baby in a healthy manner, doctors are not going to start encouraging full-term women to undertake marathons and other distance events. Miller’s story, however, must also be recognized as proof that pregnant women are anything but disabled by a pregnancy.  If Miller, Goucher, and Radcliff’s running accomplishments during and soon after pregnancy tell us anything, it’s that nothing – nothing! – stops a runner.