A journal of a pregnant runner: to run or not to run?

By Eszter Csillag

This is the second part of a series of articles focusing on issues related to female runners who are mothers, or pregnant but still keep moving along the trails...

Special thanks to Jenna, who will be translating all Eszter's articles into Chinese.


As a runner, the first thing I looked up online after knowing I was pregnant, were stories of women who continued running during their pregnancy or did even more. I was not only googling runners who continued running, but also those who did races. Unfortunately, there is not too much relevant content online. Yet, I still found hugely encouraging stories which gave me the extra courage to continue running on a daily basis and join virtual races, even when I am 6-months pregnant.


The fact that this is my second time to experience running in pregnancy helps. I am driven by my curiosity to search for my own limits in this compromising but also beautiful situation, rather than listening to the often intimidating mainstream opinion. An important note is that so far I have not had any complication during my pregnancy. Also, whenever I want to run for a longer distance,

I always ask for consent from my trainer and obstetrician.



Erin Drasler who completed the Leadville Trail Series while she was 18-weeks pregnant said, “I feel like when I found out that I was pregnant, I searched on the internet to try to find stories of other women that have done similar things and had good experiences with it. There’s really very minimal out there and I mean, it’s not for everyone. I think one thing that I found is that obviously, you’re heavier and you’re not as fast.



Indeed, I was not looking for stories of women who did races for the sake of winning but those who did it because they felt good. Sometimes, what matters to them is not even completion but the feeling of participation. Of course, completion will naturally follow when one feels good to keep on running. A competition is more enjoyable when you are in a state of pure enjoyment. It is certainly not about hitting a PB, or obtaining medals but more about belonging to a community.



Besides the running community, your immediate family and those close to you also play an important factor. It is a question of whether your closest ones support you or not.

For example, before I go for a long run or do a virtual race, my husband always calls his doctor friend and asks him for his opinion on whether or not I should still be running. Although he never tells me, I usually find out about it later. His interest in how I feel before heading out for a long run also makes me feel supported. All of this reflects that he is a worrying husband, but I am also grateful that he always respects me and my final call on whether to run or not. After all, it is my body. And as runners, we tend to know our bodies better as we learned to listen to the positive and negative signals that they give to us.

Just as Amber Miller explained who gave birth only a few hours after finishing her marathon: “Everybody was supportive of my decision; no one tried to dissuade me or questioned whether I should do it so near my due date. I knew my body: if anything hadn’t felt right, I wouldn’t have gone ahead. I was full term, so I knew if I were to go into labour, it was a healthy time for that to happen.”

The stories of pregnant runners are encouraging; however, it is obvious that there is a lack of information available for aspiring pregnant runners. As a trained runner, what is the recommended weekly mileage for each month of the pregnancy? How do the hormonal changes affect our proneness to injury? How is our heartbeat affected? How do we handle the change of body balance due to the growing tummy during exercise? How does our fitness level and performance change during pregnancy? How long does it take to recover? And finally, how are our tempo and interval sessions affected during these months?

These are just a few questions in my mind which I think should be further discussed. But I believe the lack of record on pregnant women’s achievements only means that they have achieved without recording it. Perhaps only their kids know how amazing their mothers did during their pregnancy. Therefore, it is important that pregnant women are encouraged to explore their limits and to talk about their explorations. Pregnancy should not be “naturally” associated with inactivity. It should not be a taboo to talk about the capabilities of pregnant women.

More studies should be done on the capabilities of pregnant women so that trainers can be equipped with knowledge to advice their pregnant clients. Only when there is more scientific support and knowledge, women will feel more secured and confident to continue running without guilt and worries. Without widely shared knowledge and support systems, women will be more likely to surrender to the traditional and dominant but not testified public opinion of “safe pregnancy is inactivity” and lower their training routine to three times a week for thirty minutes and eventually to none.


Changes do not happen naturally by sitting and waiting. I do believe the benefits of continuous work-out and training with care during pregnancy are far bigger than any harm to the babies and their mothers. This is the mindset and attitude I have while running these days. I hope one day we will know more about the benefits of training during pregnancy so that “to run or not to run?” will be an easy decision for any pregnant woman.



懷孕跑者手記(2): To run or not to run? (本地跑手 Eszter Csillag)


作為一個跑者,當我發現自己懷孕後,我便開始尋找懷孕女性繼續跑步的故事。我搜尋的對象不止於持續跑步的懷孕女性,還有繼續參賽的跑者,但有關她們的資訊的確不多。不過,過程中,我也發掘了鼓舞我、給予我勇氣繼續每天跑步,甚至參與虛擬賽事到今天的故事,即使我已懷孕六個月了。

當然由於這是我的第二胎,懷孕時跑步對我來說也不完全是陌生的經驗。是我的好奇心驅使我在這個充滿限制卻美好的經驗尋找自身能力的界限,而不要聆聽旁人的嘈音。需要一提的是,我的身體直到現在並無異樣。而且每當我打算跑更長的路程時,我也會徵求教練和醫生的同意。

在懷孕18週完成萊德維爾100 英里越野賽的Erin Drasler說:「當我發現自己懷孕後,我嘗試尋找懷孕女性繼續跑步的成功故事,但的確很少這樣的例子。我想這不是每個人也會做的事。而且跑步的速度隨著體重增加而下降是顯然的感覺。」

事實上,我尋找的故事主角並非那些一味追求勝利的跑者。我心目中的故事是那些純粹因為跑步令她們感覺良好而繼續跑著的懷孕女性。她們甚至未必是懷著要完成賽事的機心而跑的。當然,如果能感覺良好地跑著,最後把賽事完成也是理所當然的事。當你沒有任何成績包袱,賽事是令人享受的。這樣的賽跑並不再是有關個人最佳成績或羸取奬牌,而是透過跟隨主辦單位的路線、規則、感受自己成為跑者社群的一員。

除了跑者社群,伴侶的態度也是懷孕女性跑或不跑的一個決定性因素。這是關於他/她支持你與否。以我為例,在懷孕期間,每次進行長跑訓練或虛擬賽事前,我的丈夫都會打給他的醫生朋友再三確認我的狀況是安全的。雖然他嘗試隱瞞,但我最後總能發現。他在我出發前從不缺席的問候也令我感到他對我的支持。當然以上也意味了他是一個「憂心的丈夫」,但我很感激他即使憂心,總是尊重我繼續跑的最後決定。畢竟說到底,這是我的身體。而且一個跑者在持續進行這項重覆性的運動的歲月裡,不多不少也發展出能聆聽自己身體各種警示的能力。

正如在完成馬拉松賽事後幾小時生產的Amber Miller 所說:「所有人也支持我的決定,沒有人質疑我不應在預產期期間跑馬拉松。我很清楚自己的身體: 如果我覺得不妥,我絕對不會繼續賽事。而且我的胎兒已足月,所以如果生產的時候該到,也必定是個安妥的時刻。」

懷孕跑者們的故事當然是鼓舞人心的,但同時也不難發現坊間十分缺乏有關懷孕跑步的資訊。專業跑者懷孕時的身體每星期可以承受多少路程?身體荷爾蒙的改變對傷患和復原有何影響?我們的心跳率會有何改變?如何適應隨著漸漸長大的肚皮而改變的平衡感?我們的體能和表現會在懷孕間有何改變?又需要多少時間去回復?最後,懷孕對節奏跑和間歇跑的表現有何影響?

以上只是部份我即時想到,期望獲得答案的問題。但我相信我們缺乏有關懷孕跑步的資訊和在懷孕時挑戰自我的女性故事只代表她們「做到了」但沒有好好記錄下來。或許,只有她們的孩子才會知曉母親在懷孕期間的成就。正因如此,我們應鼓勵懷孕女性探索自己的界限,並談及她們的成就。我們不應理所當然地視「不作為」、「不活動」為懷孕的常態。談及懷孕女性的潛能也不應再是忌諱。

當學界和坊間有更多對懷孕女性潛能的研究,她們的教練也能提供更可靠、準確的意見。唯有當我們擁有更多科學數據和知識,懷孕女性才能免於內疚感和擔憂,更有自信地跑著。缺乏共享的知識和支援,懷孕跑者的腳步很容易便會在「安全懷孕就是不活動」,這未經實證的傳統觀念下停下。她們大概會降低訓練次數到一星期三次,每次三十分鐘,到最後,甚至歸零。

改變從來不會在我們坐著等待時發生。我確實地相信持續運動和安全的訓練對於胎兒和母親的好處遠比壞處多。我就是懷著這樣的信念,懷著小生命跑到今天的。但願有一天,世上會有更多支持懷孕期間訓練的數據和知識,那麼 “to run or not to run?” 對懷孕跑者來說不會再是艱難的決定。