Many pregnant women do like to keep up with a gentle exercise routine while expecting, but it’s doubtful that many would fancy doing an 800m running race.
However, a five-time U.S. national champion did just that and ran it in just over two minutes – all while she was 34-weeks pregnant.
Olympian Alysia Montano may have finished last in the race yesterday at the Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California, but she said she enjoyed it and felt ‘really good’.
The 28-year-old runner, who received a standing ovation after completing the race in 2 minutes, 32.13 seconds, said: ‘I’ve been running throughout my pregnancy and I felt really, really good during the whole process.’
Her finishing time was 35 seconds slower than her personal best of 1:57.34, which she smashed back in 2010 in a race in Monaco, but is still a time many recreational runners wouldn’t be able to achieve.
Nicknamed the ‘flying flower’ thanks to always racing with one in her hair, she joked her biggest fear was being lapped in USATF Outdoor Championships race.
‘I just didn’t want to get lapped and be the first person to get lapped in the 800,’ said Montano.
The 28-year-old is expecting her first baby with her husband Louis, who she married in 2011.
Doctors gave Montano the OK to take part in the race and she hopes it dispels misconceptions over exercise and pregnancy.
‘That took away any fear of what the outside world might think about a woman running during her pregnancy,’ Montano said of getting her doctor’s approval.
Montano has been training and competing since she was a child and was glad to find there was no reason why she shouldn’t continue while expecting.
‘What I found out mostly was that exercising during pregnancy is actually much better for the mom and the baby…I did all the things I normally do…I just happened to be pregnant. This is my normal this year,’ she said.
She knew she had no chance of winning or running at her best during the race but emphasizes that wasn’t the point. She wanted to take part for the joy of racing.
She writes on her blog that she thinks it’s important that people – whatever their ability – remember that it’s the taking part in a sport that counts.
‘Racing is still very enjoyable for me because I’ve been able to think of it like a kid does. They’re so innocent – they’re wanting to win but they’re having fun, too,’ she writes.
‘As you get older, it’s easy to put importance on things that really don’t matter and then succumb to that pressure; so I don’t like to get myself wrapped up by talking about competitive goals too much.’
Experts say it’s safe for women who are used to keeping fit like Montano to carry on exercising while pregnant – albeit at a lower intensity than before.
The pace Montano ran at in the race while pregnant would certainly be a more leisurely one for her than usual – in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she came 5th with a time under two minutes.
Alysia Montano came 5th in the London 2012 Olympics. Here a photo of the athlete competing before her pregnancy.