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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is it OK To Run a Marathon While Pregnant?

Image Credit: Chicago Tribune
As I'm sure you've heard by now, a women named Amber Miller ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday while 39 weeks pregnant. During the race, she started to feel contractions.  She finished the race, had dinner and then went to the hospital to give birth to a healthy baby girl. Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune. I first heard about this on The Today Show, and to be honest, I thought it was great. I was annoyed that on Today, there was a clip of Amber saying, "Well, I ran two minutes and then walked two minutes, so I ran half and walked half." On my first hearing of the story, it was that quote that rubbed me the wrong way, only because I feel like you've run a marathon, even if you followed the Galloway method.  I point again to Galloway runners who have qualified for Boston. This story ended up being all over the news, and while I had a minor quip about that little quote, holy crap, there was more fallout than that.

Runners World highlighted the story on Monday, and while most of the comments were supportive, some were still misinformed and mean. Click through to the Chicago Tribune story and see hundreds of just horrible, horrible comments. Of course, I've come to expect that from mainstream newspaper websites, but still.

If you're a man, I don't know why you're commenting on this at all, especially if you're not a runner. If you are a woman, shame on you for judging so harshly. I don't know what it is that makes people think that they should have a say in what women do with their bodies and how they parent. I hear so many women judging other women and I've had just about enough of it.

One of the questions that has been asked repeatedly is "What if she had gone into labor at the race and needed immediate medical attention?" Well, at races, immediate medical attention is right there. You're closer to more doctors and EMTs at a race than you would be basically anywhere else besides a hospital. I don't see how this was a problem. Amber had her doctor's permission. She was maintaining a training schedule similar to what she had been doing before her pregnancy, which is generally considered safe. She didn't get pregnant and then decide to run a marathon - this was her 8th marathon and her second pregnancy. I'm certain she knew her body could handle it.  Besides, it's clear she was running slower than her normal pace, coming in at 6:25.

Another question is, "What if she tripped?" I mean, isn't that a risk anywhere? Are women delicate flowers? Should we all just stay inside in our little bubble-wrapped world just so nothing bad will happen? Should we not ride in cars while pregnant because OMG what would happen if there were an accident? Better not take the stairs, you might fall! Oh, and forget the elevator because you might get trapped in there and lose access to medical attention. It's probably best during pregnancy to remain on the ground floor of any buildings. Just in case. And honestly, how often do experienced marathoners even fall during a race? I've been running 6 years, and I've only fallen once. It was not in a race.

I've generally found that women know their bodies and they know what their bodies can handle. If you're a decent athlete, finishing a race in over 6 hours is comfortable. After all, women are told to walk during labor - what if that walking was across a finish line? How cool!

Let's be happy for Amber and her new little girl. I trust that if she had not felt up to completing the race, she would not have done it. I trust that if she was feeling bad, she would have pulled up and not finished. I have faith that she knew what was best for her body and her baby. Let's all just trust each other.

And for heavens sake, women, let's start supporting each other more, ok?

Note: I changed the title of this post because the first title didn't make much sense.


misszippy said...

I have to be honest here, I'm not a big fan of this one. I ran to the end of both pregnancies but there is a limit. The biggest issue, to me, would be the core body temp, which as the day goes on (she was out there until late) is going to continue to drift up. It was a hot day in Chicago. Yes, all is well, but you never know. She has a lifetime to run marathons.

Kim said...

I admit, and I meant to say this in my post and forgot (I actually wrote the post twice because in the first one I sounded like a lunatic), but I wouldn't actually run a marathon pregnant. Not at any stage. Keep running? Yes. Run a half marathon? I wouldn't think twice about it. But a full? No, not for me. BUT - I don't run marathons regularly either.

I can't really speak to the core body temp part - I honestly don't know what my core body temp is right now during exercise. You're right, it was a warm day. I'll have to ask my friend who ran Chicago what she thinks.

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