With the summer and winter Olympics coming around only once every four years, respectively, many female athletes have to choose between starting a family and going after their athletic goals.
When runner Sarah Brown found out that her IUD failed and that she was pregnant heading into an Olympic year, she and her husband, who is also her coach, cautiously and with doctors’ approval and guidance, continued training.
With her daughter due in the spring, that gave Brown just 12 weeks to prepare for the Olympic Trials in track — an absurdly short time for any top level athlete to get ready for a competition of this caliber.
Because Brown was heading into the pregnancy incredibly fit, her OBGYN, Dr. John Gonzalez, set ground rules, such as her heart rate should only reach up to 80% of her maximal heart rate, and steered the couple into a good plan.
That allowed Brown to run 10-12 miles per day, four days per week, in her third trimester. She even went for a 12 mile run the day before she gave birth.
The common belief is that women who are pregnant should take it easy, but Dr. Gonzalez told espnW that this isn’t the case.
“Many people bring their emotions to it. ‘Oh, you’re pregnant, you should lay down and put your feet up. Here’s a cup of tea.’ However, that’s not appropriate. Women should be active during their pregnancy and, if possible, should be exercising during pregnancy as well. Studies show that exercising during pregnancy can be a benefit. We do know for example if pregnant women are not active, they are more likely to develop blood clots during pregnancy, and they are at increased risk of diabetes and inappropriate weight gain.”
Filmmaker Daniele Anastasion documented the Brown’s quest in Run Mama Run, a series chronicling the couple as they balance Olympic training and forthcoming parenthood.
@thedarrenbrown kicked off my 37th week of #pregnancy with a REMIX (Random Endurance MIX) #workout today. Let me be clear though, there’s nothing “random” about it. He’s incredibly calculated. However, I never quite know what I’m going to get with one of these sessions. Sometimes I think he does it just to test my #mentalstrength … Wait a second!?!? 😜 Today’s session called for: 2mi warm-up 2mi Track Tempo .5mi jog to “the hill” 6x250m hill loops .5mi jog back to the track 4×400 2mi cool down The first twist in the day came before the #workout even started. I usually do a longer warm-up, but as we were about to pass the #track to finish out the “usual loop”, Darren motioned me up onto the track and said we are going to start the workout with a 2mi Tempo. Sometimes outside circumstances cause things to be less than “usual” or ideal on race-day. We do things like this occasionally to prepare for those UNusual moments. If you have a coach or workout partner, have them test you from time to time with little things. Unknown intervals, misplaced water bottle (if it’s not too hot!), “lost” watch (causing you to run by feel), late start/early start etc. While it will be tough in the moment, it’ll help you to stay composed and dismiss the little (or big) things that may happen on #race day. Despite the truncated workout, unknown interval structure and mixed track/road/hill session, I definitely considered today a #success … mentally AND physically! @nbrunning @newbalance #36weeks #road2trio #bteam #fitpregnancy #momtobe #preggo
After having a healthy baby girl, there’s only one thing left to do: Run fast.