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Run, mama, run!


Content and media team
7 May 2021
Woman holding baby
Southern Cross Midwifery student Heidi did a return-to-running program to resume her training after having a baby.

Mothers who study spend a lot of time running between commitments, but have you ever wondered what kind of training pregnant women and women who have just had a baby need to do for long distance running? With the Village Roadshow Theme Parks Gold Coast Marathon not far away, two of our mothers who run give their take on training before and after having a baby.

Pregnancy and having a baby are some of the most significant changes a woman’s body can go through over her lifetime. Southern Cross University lecturer, osteopath and ultra-marathon runner Bimbi Gray says it’s important to check in with your healthcare practitioner about any marathon training while pregnant.

“Make sure that you're not pushing yourself too hard. Check in with your GP to make sure there are no complications that could be aggravated from intense or cardiovascular exercise. It can also help to see a registered exercise physiologist, osteopath or a physiotherapist to get a specific management plan. It's really important to have that professional support.

“That being said, I think if the woman is a runner and has been running lots prior to pregnancy, it's completely safe to run during pregnancy. But it's about managing load and making sure that it's within the physical limits of that person. It's not unsafe, but the load does need a bit of modification, particularly as the pregnancy progresses,” she said.

Bimbi, who had twins herself, said she scaled back her running during pregnancy to light exercise in the first trimester and then concentrated on walking, swimming, pilates and yoga as her pregnancy progressed.

Marathon runner and Southern Cross University midwifery student Heidi Patenaude also advocates for professional assessment before going too hard while pregnant and said the resumption of training after having a baby can likewise benefit from professional advice.

“My postnatal training involved a return to running program through a local postnatal trainer to make sure I had a strong core and strong pelvic floor and things like that. It’s probably the first step that any woman should take before undertaking any kind of high intensity training. Basically it just starts off, you pretend you've never run in your life and it gets you training over six weeks going from zero kilometres to being able to do a Saturday morning run. So once I completed that, I just kept going and I was able to do the 10K.

“I felt stronger and my endurance was more than the previous time I did it. I think it was because of the postnatal training mixed with the safe returning to running training. So I didn't have any injuries or anything like that to overcome. Seeing a women's health physio was also really important before starting training,” she said.

It may be a longer haul to get your running form back, but the rewards are many. “I actually solve a lot of problems out on my runs, I get to process things. And it's also just a really great time out for me as a busy mum and academic and osteopath. It's really great stress relief. It's always the juggle finding the time but as my kids have got older it's been easier to find time to train for longer events,” said Bimbi.

Want to get personalised expert advice on marathon training from Southern Cross University experts?



Media contact: Southern Cross University Media and content team, [email protected]