- This was printed in May of 2015 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 102nd installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.
On Saturday I saw several women participate in the Mother’s Day Run, running 2 miles
and even the 10K with noticeable baby bumps. Although I never experienced the joy of
running while pregnant, I think it is awesome and empowering for women to continue to
run while a little human grows inside of them.
I’ve seen a much different opinion, however, from people on social media sites who
comment on articles recently published on the topic. Some seem to think that women
who run while pregnant are “bad moms,” selfish and/or endangering their fetuses.
Every woman and every pregnancy is different. If a woman’s obstetrician/gynecologist
gives her the go-ahead to continue with exercise, including running, then it should be no
one else’s business to express disapproval.
I have seen runners who, for one reason or another, had to stop running as they
progressed in their pregnancy, and I have seen plenty more women who have continued
to run throughout their entire pregnancy. Not one of those women was selfish, and not
one of them went against their doctor’s advice.
During the Boston Marathon I ran alongside (for a few hundred yards) Amy Keil, a
Minneapolis woman who was 34 weeks along; she finished the 26.2-mile race in 4 hours
and 19 minutes.
Olympian Alysia Montano made headlines in June for sprinting an 800-meter race while
34 weeks pregnant. She finished in 2 minutes and 32 seconds — half a minute faster than
I run that distance, not expecting.
Cassidy Jones, of Monterey, ran the Big Sur Marathon on April 26 while 38 weeks
pregnant; she gave birth to her healthy 8-pound, 15-ounce son on Mother’s Day.
These women were all avid runners prior to becoming pregnant, and according to news
stories, were give the OK to continue to run as long as they took care to not overheat, and
to stay well hydrated.
My ultramarathon running friend Ashlee Mickelberry, who lives in Boulder City, Nevada,
is in her second trimester and is ecstatic each time she goes out on a run with her
daughter, Matilda, or “Tilly.”
“I hope to run through my whole pregnancy,” she said. “I joke about my water breaking
on a run.”
She is cautious and often runs with friends or her husband, rather than alone, like she
“Where before I would push through discomfort and tough patches, now I keep an eye on
how I feel and back off if I need to,” she said. “I think if you respect your body and your
pregnancy and do what feels right it will be all good. I definitely had to shift from a
‘training’ mindset, but I am getting to do something I love so much while growing a
human. That’s pretty dang awesome. I would also say that it has been more tiring and
demanding than any ultra I have run to date!”
Like many moms, Ashlee dealt with morning sickness during her first trimester, except
she experienced the nausea in the evening hours.
“So I began running in the morning,” she said. “I also live in Southern Nevada and temps
are already in the 90s so it is much cooler in the morning. I carry water on all of my runs.
I have been so thirsty in my pregnancy and I want to make sure I stay hydrated.”
My friend Shelly Montoya also experienced morning sickness, which deterred her from
running altogether until she was almost 19 weeks along. Now that she is in her third
trimester, she has returned to speed walking as the pressure in her pelvis increased and
her running form started to suffer.
Each pregnant runner is different, just as each non-pregnant runner is different.
Ashlee said her pregnancy weight gain has been within the healthy range, and little Tilly
is growing normally according to ultrasounds, so her doctor is not worried about her
continuing to run. She, like any mom, always thinks about the baby first.
“If I thought for a second this was unwise, I would stop,” she said. “I will say it has made
me a better runner in that I am more forgiving of myself, more flexible and definitely
grateful for each run.”