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Runner's Bump series: We're not all marathon runners

Posted by Lara Salahi  January 8, 2014 08:42 AM

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Caitlin Hurley of Bedford, Mass., has two children ages 5 and 8 and is pregnant with her third. She ran until 7 1/2 months into her pregnancy with her first two children and is planning on doing the same with her third, depending on how she feels.She ran the 2013 Boston Marathon in 2:58, and her next finish line will be delivering her baby late July 2014.  Each week she'll document her progress on Ultra Sound Pregnancy.

The Runner's Bump series documents one woman's pregnancy journey and her commitment to maintaining and healthy and responsible level of fitness with clearance from her physician. The views expressed are not meant to offer medical advice. Pregnant women should consult their own physician about appropriate physical activities based on their pregnancy status. 

After I posted my blog last week, a friend commented "congratulations on your pregnancy and your marathon training!" I thanked her and gently corrected her that while I was indeed running and pregnant, I certainly was not training for a marathon.  What was slightly alarming was that a friend would think that I was the kind of person that would run a marathon while pregnant.

Do you remember the story of the woman who ran the Chicago Marathon in 2011 when she was nine months pregnant? The media had a field day, and even I - an avid runner and mother who ran while pregnant - was indignant. To me, pregnancy is not a time for intense training or 20 mile long runs. It's not a time to be selfish.  Almost like a warm up to parenthood, it's one of the first times in our lives when our personal goals should take a back seat to the needs of someone else.  Once the baby is born, you can slowly get your groove back and begin to make goals for future marathons and other athletic goals.  I am all for continuing to run or dance or do whatever you are passionate about while you are pregnant as long as you remember the purpose of continuing to exercise - for your health, well-being and strength and ultimately the health of the baby.

As runners we are used to pushing our bodies, but what we have to keep in mind is that as we progress in our pregnancies, our bodies are being taxed more and more as our heart rate increases to deliver more oxygen to our babies, and our bodies are actually growing stronger as they adjust to carrying around the extra weight.  In a sense it's like high altitude training and weight training at the same time.  No wonder we slow down.

Right now I can't imagine having the energy to train for a marathon.  Already running four or five miles has become a challenge, and my belly has begun to fill in my Nike running shirts in a way that even a meal at Chipotle wouldn't do. The beauty about taking a rest from arduous training is that you can enjoy other pursuits without that guilt that you have when training for an endurance event. When training for a marathon, I hesitate to cross train too much, but this winter without a specific training plan to stick to, I am loving just getting out to snowshoe or cross country ski instead. Having that balance, getting back to basics and just going out in the winter to embrace the frozen world without a watch or set goal, has made me appreciate exactly what I am so often trying to escape in my pursuit to be comfortable - Mother Nature. 

So while I'm not training for a marathon while pregnant and certainly wouldn't recommend it, I am training in a way that makes me happy, healthy and strong.  I have a feeling my mini training partner would agree.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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