It’s hard to exercise when you’re waddling around at the end of a pregnancy. Would you run a marathon?
Runners at last weekend’s Chicago marathon cheered for “the pregnant lady” on the course; that would be Amber Miller, a woman from Illinois who ran/walked the marathon at 39 weeks (full term is 40 weeks). Miller had the okay from her doctor to run half of the distance, so she combined running and walking in order to comfortably cover the course. She finished in 6:25.50 at 3:30 p.m., and her contractions began soon after crossing the finish line; her daughter, June, was born at 10:29 p.m.
Miller had run marathons before and had, in fact, run while pregnant. She completed another marathon at 17 weeks of this pregnancy and had run the Indianapolis Marathon in 2009 when she was pregnant with her son.
Times have changed since the days when women were barred from running events because popular belief held that their “delicate constitutions” couldn’t handle sports (at one point, it was believed that a woman’s uterus would fall out with exercise). Today, women athletes thoughtfully work with their bodies and pregnancies for success; look at Paula Radcliff’s win at the New York City marathon in ’07, just 10 months after having her baby. Austin’s own triathlete and owner of Hill Country Running Company and Texas Iron Multisport Andrea Fisher glowingly worked around her own pregnancy, recently welcoming her daughter to the world this summer. Fisher is already back, taking the podium at the recent Kerrville TriFest Sprint triathlon as first overall female (and fourth overall against the men).
Clearly, exercise during pregnancy is possible and can be done without harm to mother or baby. If you’re expecting, work with your doctor for what amount and type of exercise is right for you and your fitness level. Being healthy makes for an easier delivery…though not everyone may want to risk a mid-marathon birth.