Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's Not What You Think

I just finished reading this post, where Outside blogger (and Runner's World editor) Peter Vigneron questions whether getting pregnant makes female runners get faster.  Vigneron admits that, after contemplating this question, his gut response is no - women will not return to their pre-pregnancy levels of competition.  However, after choosing ten female runners and studying their pre-pregnancy and post-pregnancy performances, he finds that several of these women have been able to better their race times after having a baby.

Obviously, there are other factors in the lives of these women that could result in faster running, including harder or different training and the increased confidence or experience that comes with age.  So the questions remain - is there something that happens in a woman's body when she gets pregnant that helps her with her running?  Or is it motherhood itself that promotes these changes?  How is it for women who adopt children?

While my race times are not quite what they were in college, they are pretty darn close.  It amazes me to think that my 35-year-old body can nearly replicate what it could do at 18.  Over the last several years, my fastest race times and marathon finishes all occurred AK ("after kids"), and not BK ("before kids").  All this despite the frustrated moments that occur frequently during life AK - those times when I feel restricted in what I can accomplish due to my role in caring for my kids.   Even as I attempt to complete this post, I'm interrupted by requests for food, attention, and potty help (hence the scattered thoughts here).  But I it possible that my kids are helping me with my running, and lots of other things too, without me realizing it?

Whether or not you're a "mom" in the traditional sense, I would love to hear your thoughts.  It would be great to hear from men too - how has fatherhood impacted your running?


  1. Lori--I love your entries. I think having kids has helped me, just due to the fact it is the time I spend with them. I invested in a BOB running coach, and it is great. I spend the hour or two a day with my kids while I run, they ride and even venture out now and then to run with me. While my times are not by any means as fast as before children, I think this situation, albeit slower, is so much better for my overall general wellbeing (and I have great upper arms now that they are 3 1/2 and weigh 32lbs each and the coach another 24, so it is a good workout pushing)! Keep up these great entries. Hope you are doing well.
    Karen (McCollum) Zbyszinski

  2. I like how you also posed the question about is it the same for those who adopted (the AK aspect). I seem to be running less now that my kids are older and no longer ride in a stroller for a run, and want to do their own exercise which means I am watching or assisting them instead of doing it more myself. So, my times are slower. I guess I could change that by early morning runs. Nice blog! I'm impressed.
    Karen Shenk Zeager

  3. Love this post. Not being a mother, I don't experientially understand the pressures mothers feel... but this idea that having children can enhance one's passion/calling instead of pulling a mother out of it to focus on child-rearing is intriguing. I started watching a documentary called Who Does She Think She Is? about mother-artists (the dvd kept skipping and stopping, so I didn't make it very far), and it was the same kind of concept, but less focused on the physical aspect.

  4. Getting pregnant and having a baby gave my weight loss a kick start...I had been at a stand still for almost 2 years...running, but losing no weight. Since I gave birth I have lost all the pregnancy weight plus almost another 20 pounds in a year. My run times are pretty much the same as they were pre-pregnancy though.

  5. For starters, I apologize for this very late (and very long) response to your responses. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment - thanks so much for your responses! I loved hearing about your successes and challenges. I think it reinforces that there is not necessarily a formula that holds true for every woman. Karen Z. - we LOVED our BOB stroller. Dave and I used it often so that we could run together...definitely good exercise and can be good family time too! Karen S.Z. - I've been trying to think of a creative way to have the kids and I exercise together (like have Natalie in the stroller and Andrew on his bike), but it still hasn't worked out as I've hoped. For now, if I don't run early, I typically don't run. It's so hard to get out once the kids are awake! Betsy - I think that having a new job can be like motherhood in some ways (and the job search/interview process like pregnancy). How has that been for your running? Seems to me that you've come out stronger on this side of it. Katie - for starters, you looked great when I saw you a few weeks ago! It's nice when having a baby has a positive impact on exercise / metabolism. Like you, I think I was one of the lucky moms. I'm glad you are feeling encouraged!