Sunday, November 25, 2012

To Shed Some Light

This is an excerpt of Runner's World 2010 interview with top women marathoners Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher during their 5th month of pregnancy. Some parts of the interview has been omitted because it tends to drag on.
Let's make it more merepek with me imaginary butting in, in that same interview with my answers that hit home ( and let's face it, makes more sense)

RUNNERS WORLD: How are your pregnancies going?

KARA GOUCHER (KG): Because this is my first pregnancy, I didn't know what to expect. During my first trimester, I felt tired and nauseous, but usually 10 minutes into a run, I'd feel better. By the fifth month, I felt great—I was able to train twice a day and lift weights three days a week. But priorities definitely have shifted. Training isn't about staying fit as much as staying sane.

PAULA RADCLIFFE (PR):You don't understand what tiredness is until you are pregnant. No matter how tired you might feel at the end of a marathon or a hard training week, it's nothing to how tired you are in that first trimester.
 Like Kara said, running now is about staying sane, but it's also keeping yourself fit because that's what we do, and also because all of the research says that it's good for the baby, too. It's hard when people say, "Are you sure you're doing the right thing? What if you're shaking that baby to death?" That worried me the first time. I'm more relaxed this time.

JJ: Train twice a day? I'd be lucky if I can get 4 decent 30 minute workouts in a week ! But I'm lucky because nobody comes to me and ask "  "Are you sure you're doing the right thing?" because I don't really sell it to people close to me that I'm still running and doing some strength training.They'll throw a hissy fit definitely.

Any food cravings?

PR: I crave food in general. I have to have something before I run, and I have to eat as soon as I come back. I've always got energy bars or nuts or fruit or something in my bag.

KG: I've been craving dairy. Cheese and yogurt—I don't know why. My husband told my strength coach that I've been keeping Ben & Jerry's in business.

JJ : Did I mention before that I'm hungry all the time. Whenever I go to shopping malls or restaurants, I'd be like " Ooh, that looks good," or " I gotta have some of that" and most of the time I have no idea what they are. On that note, are you going to finish those fries? If not..

Has your training changed?

KG: The intensity is so much less. Track sessions now are fun. Instead of doing 8 x 1600, we're doing 200s, or if I am doing mile repeats, they're on an AlterG [antigravity treadmill, which reduces the body weight of the runner]. We're working out twice a day, but it's not like we're going to the well every time. In the morning I'm running an easy 45 minutes to an hour, and in the afternoon I'm just on the elliptical for 30 minutes. I also have access to an underwater treadmill. I think I'm going to be shifting more and more to using that for my second daily workout. That might sound like a lot. But for us, that's scaled back quite a bit.

PR: I've scaled back mileage-wise about 50 percent. I'm not even adding it up. In terms of intensity, it's hugely scaled back. I'm doing maybe one rep session on the AlterG once a week and then something on the track, but really short, like 150, 200, or 300 meters. I'm not trying to hit times; I'm trying to just run and feel good.

JJ: (Rolls eyes) Pengsan! I'd be lucky if I was doing what they're doing when I wasn't pregnant. Gile.
I like to say what I do now is running, but it's more of an awkward shuffling motion. But I guess at least I'm moving. And kebende tu AlterG? Aku kenal Kenny G je. Tu pun taim kecik-kecik. Ade -ade je la korang ni.

How has your pace changed?

KG: It's hard to tell what our pace is. The last time I did a hard session on the AlterG, I put the weight at 128 pounds (which is still more than I would normally weigh), but I was still able to do a six-mile tempo at 4:55 pace, and it felt so great. The next day when I ran outside, I was running only 7:30s, and that felt really hard. But there are days when I can run under 7:00. It's not this steady decline—I still have great days, but then I also have these amazingly awful days. There's no control over it.

PR: To be honest, it just doesn't matter. I've got no idea about pace.

JJ: Kan? Aku sekeh jugak minah Kara ni kang.
I don't run with my garmin. My treadmill hasn't been calibrated in years. So I have no idea of my pace. I run by feel. If my tummy feels heavy or there's a strain, I walk.

How have people reacted toward you—and your bumps?

KG: I was at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Diego, and I did a little talk and then met with people afterward. And there was a lot of belly-touching. I was like, Wow, we're that close? I love meeting people and they're so friendly; it's just something I'm not used to yet. It threw me for a loop. And then one of my neighbors pulled up the other day and she's like, "Make sure you don't lift anything—a friend of mine went into labor early because she lifted a box." I know she meant well, but she would drop dead if she could see me in the weight room, because I'm still squatting, and throwing medicine balls, and doing everything I did before. Some people are shocked. But our bodies are used to working hard, and I'm not doing as much as I normally did. It's just all relative.

PR: You feel like saying, I'm not sick. There's nothing wrong with me. I'm just pregnant. Even people I know really well will come up and say, "Are you still able to run a bit?" And then they'll see me on the track and say, "Should you be doing that?" And I'm like, yeah, 'cause if you look at how slow the times are compared to what they've been before, it's not really comparable at all. But at the same time, it is keeping me fit, it is good for the baby, and it makes me feel better.

JJ: I get that totally. I hate unwanted belly touching. I hate it when I tell people I'm pregnant and immediately their hands go to my belly. I have to refrain this urge to swat them off like flies.So to avoid this,mostly I don't tell people I haven't seen in a while of my condition so I'll leave them wondering whether I've gained weight or I actually have a baby in my tummy.

we like to touch our own bellies, thank you very much

How do you think being active influences pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery?

PR: Being fit definitely helps. Even if you have a complicated pregnancy, the fact that you're fit is still going to help your body handle that situation. And I think that being fit through labor helps. The mental techniques you know from getting through races help to keep the concentration and stay focused. You come back stronger because you're happier, because you have a child that you love and cherish, and it's something you really wanted in your life. You probably become a little bit more focused as well, because your priorities are sharpened. And the time away from intense training means that you come back more refreshed. There is a flip side, though, because you are so used to being in tune with your body, and having this body that responds so well to what you ask it to do. You can't do that during pregnancy. You feel frumpy and fat. You kind of have this anxiety because you know you have to put on a certain amount of weight and hit the target so the baby is healthy, but it's hard to get fat and to go through that.

JJ: Yeah, what she said.

How did the pain of labor compare to racing?

PR: The pain of labor is more intense. But I found that it was just not comparable. When you run a marathon, your body is working with you and you've trained and prepared for it. With labor, for me, my body seemed to be working against me.

KG: My husband was tossing around the idea of a natural, at-home birth, so he rented this video, The Business of Being Born, and it had the exact opposite effect that he was hoping for. I'm open-minded. I definitely want to deliver in the hospital, and I want the option of the epidural. But I'm in denial about the whole birthing process still.

JJ: Some smart-alec said to me, " It's your 3rd. The pain won't be as intense as it was with your first". I say that's full of bull s**t. I met a mother of 7 who actually told me, it never gets easier so I'm bracing myself. Honestly, with  marathons I guess it's the same. Even though you've done it 4-5 times, it never gets easier. But if we're talking about pain, of course a marathon is nothing compared to labor.

Have you experienced any uncomfortable moments on runs? Bladder issues?

PR: I think we had one nightmare run, didn't we?

KG: I've had a few.

JJ: ALL the time. But I guess that's normal. I do hope I don't cough or sneeze during a run. That'll be ugly.

How has running helped you with the emotional ups and downs of pregnancy?

PR: You still have that normal mother-to-be-anxiety, like, Will I be a good mom? Will I do the right thing? But running does help. Sticking to a routine is good. You also find yourself bonding with the baby and talking to the baby on the run.

KG: I have my most intimate thoughts when I'm running. That's when I'm most honest with myself, and I think about what I want out of life. I've definitely had thoughts, especially in the last month like, Wow, my baby knows me better than anyone. He's the only person that's ever been behind that curtain. I mean, obviously, he's not really hearing my thoughts, but there's just that feeling that there's some connection that I could never have with another person.

JJ :  I think once you've been running a long time till it becomes somewhat of a habit, it's really weird to fully stop for the whole 9 months. How much fitness you'll lose will always loom in mind. I guess it all about moderation and slowly easing up accordingly and not just fully stop. Exercise is good for moms physically and mentally at these times. At least you won't feel fat and frumpy most of the time.


All merepeks aside, I do hope this interview ( or rather my part of mock interview) can shed some light into running for mommies and mommies-to-be.

I hope I can still go on running/ shuffling/ waddling till full term. This is the furthest I've been. In my last pregnancy, I had to stop halfway when my doctor diagnosed me with type II placenta previa. Hope that doesn't happen again.


  1. hahah this is so cute .. i havent ran in the longest time and i still miss it and hope at least i can hit the pavement doing my own short runs if not joining events .. and just go with the flow, no two labour pains are the same, you might just be lucky and gets off easy this time, inysaallah <3

  2. I guess if you're starting back KJ, start slow especially in your condition. Recovery is part of fitness jugak kan?
    I do pray I get off easy but it has been 5 years so the anxiety is still there haha

  3. A good read, as always. X tau apa nak cakap lagi but I love your butting in there. ;)

    Take care. If we are to meet before you give birth, don;t worry. I won't touch your belly. I'm not the touchy feely type. ;p

  4. Thanks Lina.
    Haha. This belly's off limits

  5. mcm kak June kata, such a cute post!

    p/s: eh, tak de pun gambar2 JJ kat atas tu pose-pose mcm PR and KG? ooops, lariiii.. hehe.

  6. oh i didn't know you are pregnant! congratulations and I say run away (with measures, of course you would know that). If I got pregnant, I plan to continue with my exercises even until the end. and I cannot wait for people to tell me I cannot do that because I'd just say, ye ke, ok thanks!

    1. Oh I'm sure you'll go on with all your exercises especially your yoga. From your writings, I say it'll be a shame to lose all that flexibility and strength kan?