Saturday marked the half way point of this pregnancy!! It was an amazing feeling waking up early for my weekly *long* run knowing that I’m working on the last 13.1 of this *marathon*. I celebrated by running a slow 11 miles.

Whitney, a mommy-to-be, runner and blogger, was asking her readers the other day whether or not she should train for a marathon next year post baby. Whitney and I share the same due date, so I will definitely be following her journey!

I commented, but then decided to do a whole post about my thoughts on this topic. [Take them or leave them.] We all have different experiences and are capable of different things, here is what I think as a soon to be mommy-of-3.

Prior to getting pregnant with my daughter I had completed 6 marathons. While I wouldn’t say I was a veteran at them at this point, I would say my body and mind was used to the training. While pregnant with baby C, the longest run I did was 10 miles at 4 months pregnant. I had signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler 2006 and wanted to run it, regardless of whether I was slow. Hubby ran with me to keep me under control, though to be honest I don’t think I could have ran any faster even if I wanted to.

I kept running the entire pregnancy, but at the bitter end a good run for me was between 1 – 3 miles, with lots of walking breaks.

As a first time working mom, running was still important to me, but had to take a back burner to taking care of my daughter.
2 months after she was born I ran the Marine Corps Marathon 10K. 8 months after she was born I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 miler 2007. It was the first time I had gotten up to 10 miles since Cherry Blossom the year before. I pr’ed. My body needed this break from marathon training to recover from the process of being pregnant and giving birth. I also was nursing, which saps energy and nutritional resources from your body. Couple that with sleepless nights, and I promise you I made the right decision not training for a spring marathon that year.

In June after she was born I began training for Marine Corps Marathon 2007. My body felt great and I had some really awesome runs. I felt recovered. A week before my daughters 1st birthday I again found out I was expecting. The farthest I ran while pregnant with my son was again 10 miles, I had signed up for the Army Ten Miler with my mom and still wanted to run. I was about 2 months pregnant at the time, it was the last time I ran 10 miles while I was pregnant.

I kept running till the end. A good run was around 2 – 4 miles, with walking breaks.

Baby Miles was born on April 24, 2008.

After having trained for a marathon and not ran it, and also having experienced the strange things that happen to your body during and after pregnancy, I decided that I could handle training for a marathon soon after he was born. I became a stay at home mom, so I no longer felt that I was taking away precious time from my child. Training properly for a marathon is a HUGE time commitment. Kudos to moms who have little kids, work full time and also train – I can’t even imagine how you manage!

6 months and 2 days after Miles came into my life I ran a 24 minute PR at the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. I felt awesome, but knew that my body was still not fully recovered from childbirth. I don’t regret running a marathon that fall and definitely think it was the right choice for me. I continued to train for marathons up until I found out this March that I was expecting baby #3.

For now my goal is to stay active and keep healthy for my baby. Do I plan on running a spring marathon? Well that depends. My mom and her brother will be running fall marathons in an attempt to re-qualify and qualify for Boston 2011. If they meet their goals, I want to run Boston 2011 with them. I am however being realistic with myself and know that running a marathon, what will likely be less than 5 months after having my 3rd baby, might not yield the fastest race result.

So all that being said, here is my answer. I don’t think it’s a great idea to train for your 1st marathon the same year as having your first baby. It’s sort of like the advice they give you when you get pregnant and still want to run. If you have been a consistent runner up until you get pregnant then it’s fine to keep on running. If you are new to the sport or want to become a runner, it’s best to wait till after the baby is born to begin running. If you have run marathons in the past, you know what it’s like, you can better judge whether it’s a good idea to train for one right after. Same with babies, if you are on your 2nd baby and are thinking of running your first marathon after, you can better judge how you handle that infant period, than a mom who is a first time new mom and first time marathoner.

It’s not easy training for a marathon. It makes you tired, it saps your energy. Newborns are like marathons, they make you tired, they sap your energy. So besides the fact that your body might not be recovered [it takes at least 18 months for your body to fully recover from the birth of a child] enough to train for your 1st marathon that soon, why torture yourself by being extremely tired when caring for your new baby?

I would personally come up with another running related goal. Maybe focus on getting your 1/2 marathon PR down. If you aren’t the type of person who cares about PR’s, maybe try 10K trail race, in order to feel the rush of trying something new, with out time commitment of a marathon. If you still feel like you want to run your first marathon, pick one with a race date, later in the year, say November or December. Let your body/mind recover for 6 months prior to begining training for the marathon!
As I said each runner is different, each body is different, each mom is different, this is just what I would do based on my past experiences.

What would you do if you were Whitney?

Comments

  1. shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama says:

    Really great advice! I agree with your…'if you were a runner…' advice. I hope Whitney uses her experince and listens to her body in making such a big decision. After 3 kids and many marathons, running a marathon within the same year as having a baby could be doable for me but timing would be a factor and it would be something that wouldn't be completely finalized until after delivery to make sure everything went smoothly. Nothing would be worse than getting your heart set on running a race and then have recovery issues keep you from doing it. Sometimes that can lead people to make choices that result in injury. Good luck to Whitney whatever she chooses.

    Great post.

  2. The Happy Runner says:

    Good post.
    I agree w/you: "I don't think it's a great idea to train for your 1st marathon the same year as having your first baby."

    I feel like you need to sort life out after having your first baby and training for your first marathon at the same time can be tough. I think your advice to find a different goal is good. After my son was born, my goal was to get my 5k time down. This time around, I'm not sure what my post-baby goal will be but I'm thinking maybe a half marathon next spring.

  3. So it would be her first marathon? I agree with you. No way – wait and see. Don't decide before the baby comes whether or not to train for the marathon. I did 3 before having my son, and was slated to run Boston 2 months after he was born. I got in w/ charity and really wanted to do it. I ended up running it 10 weeks postpartum and running a great time and feeling good about it – however, about 2 months later I became totally burnt out and that continued for another 4 months until I found out I was pregnant again. This time I'm not thinking of doing a marathon post baby. I want to do some shorter distances and really get fit, and not focus on the miles and run run run. I want to have time to lift and cross train and my goal is a short tri. So I agree w/ your advice and I think you are super inspiring w/ all of your pregnancy running!

  4. Staci Dombroski says:

    I think she should go for it :) You are a great example. I hope you have a wonderful week!

  5. Whitney says:

    I can't believe you did a post about me. This cracks me up – but I am grateful for the advice! I'm sure that it would be incredibly hard to run a marathon within a year of having a baby. Maybe I'll push it out 6 more months and shoot for a first time in April 2012? Or maybe I'll scrap the whole idea of a full marathon and stick to the half, which I love. :) We'll see what happens. Thank you for the post!

    P.S. I swear that I wasn't "racing" for the 10K that I did over the weekend. I was just running (and focusing on how I felt) and ended up with my personal best time! I guess the baby helps me do better. :)

  6. misszippy says:

    I have to agree also–there is plenty of time for a marathon. First babies are so tiring b/c it is all new. Your body has taken a major hit. Be flexible with your plans Whitney and take it as it comes.

    All that being said–I ran some awesome times in the year following the birth of both my kids (not at the marathon distance though!). I do think there's something to the extra red blood cells running around in your body in that first year post-partum!

  7. Michelle says:

    I'm following you from The Mom Blogger's Club – I'm on my own journey to a healthier life (although I prefer just walking to running) – my blog is http://www.healthylifejourney.com/ if you want to check it out!

  8. Meredith says:

    Funny! I just had this conversation with a newly pregnant friend of mine. I have yet to run a marathon, but I have birthed 4 kids and have 5 total… Definitely think it's best to wait. Those sweet babes take so much energy and our bodies don't often have a whole lot left to give.

  9. seemommydo says:

    I'm loving your spin on pregnancy on running! I agree on not pushing to run a marathon that quickly after childbirth- I know if I tried I'd beat myself up over not doing my best. Also agree about continuing to run after you find out you're pregnant. I read the same advice well into my first pregnancy after a doctor told me I should stop all together.

    On a side note- what's the most training you've done with the jogging stroller? I'm really hoping to do the Woodrow Wilson Half in September, but my husband will be gone all of August so I'm not sure how many miles I'll get in. My hubs says to still go for it, and that maybe I'll surprise myself by being able to run faster in the race since I won't have the jogger. Any advice?

I love a good comment!

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