I've never thought of myself as a fast runner. In fact, I think I'm pretty slow. But last year I managed to slash 16 minutes off my marathon time just by adding speed work into my routine. Still, I'm not breaking any finish line tape. And I'm starting to wonder how much faster I could get if I gave birth.
New mom Kara Goucher will be in town this weekend to run the New York City Half Marathon on Sunday and she's hoping to win it. Last week she blogged about doing a tempo run at a 5:22 minute per mile pace—the speed she was running before her pregnancy. And she says she's feeling stronger than ever. That sense of strength is something fellow pro-distance runner Paula Radcliffe talked about with Runner's World last year: "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." Goucher and Radcliffe (already mom to daughter Isla) both gave birth to boys in September and ran through their pregnancies—though they significantly reduced their speed and mileage compared to their normal schedules.
Experts believe women often come back faster and stronger after giving birth because they're no longer afraid of pain. That's something that has always held me back—I don't like to feel uncomfortable when I'm running. I don't like it when it gets tough to breathe and my muscles scream as I pick up the pace.
I'm not saying I'd have a baby just to become a better runner. (A lot has to happen in my life first, before the stork can come for a visit.) But faster race times would certainly be a happy side effect.
Will you keep running when you're pregnant? New moms, do you feel stronger post-pregnancy?