Links to some Videos about Clara running pregnant:
Links to New York Times Videos about me running pregnant:
Me on Good Morning America! (ALSO about running pregnant!):
Link to Freeplay Magazine Cover and Article about me running pregnant:
Articles about Clara running pregnant:
Corte Madera pro runner not slowing down much during pregnancy
Marin runners have been pioneers in raising the bar on the possibilities of athletic achievement. Marion Irvine, followed by Shirley Matson and Melody-Anne Schultz, completely altered traditional views regarding women over 50, 60 and 70. Reilly Johnson won the Dipsea at age 8, and Steve Lyons and Lori Cohen somehow finished the grueling race while in the throes of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Sam Hirabayashi transformed age 80 into the “new 50.” Now Corte Madera’s Clara Horowitz Peterson is changing perceptions of training during pregnancy.
Clara, 29, turned heads at the Marin Memorial 5K (May 27) when, wearing only a racing top and shorts though obviously pregnant, she ran a time of 18 minutes, 12 seconds, or 5:52 per mile. Only four runners, male or female, were faster. Her protruding abdomen was even more obvious when she blazed a 5:18 at the San Rafael Mile in July.
Clara had run hard through two earlier pregnancies, with Ramsey, 4, and Riley, 2, including a 7-miler the very day before each birth. Now, with a due date of Nov. 20, Clara is still training with elite runners such as Chelsea Reilly, who won the Marin Memorial 10K in a course record, Dipsea winner Brian Pilcher and Olympic Trials marathoner YiOu Wang. Though she’s gradually cutting back her mileage and pace as her pregnancy advances, 8-9 milers replacing 20-mile runs, and 6:30 miles now 7:30, Clara is definitely not jogging.
“There is new thinking about exercising rigorously during pregnancy,” Peterson said. “The consensus now is that it’s fine if you’d been doing it a high level before and there are no complications. It might even be bad to stop.
“My obstetrician, (Greenbrae’s) Lizellen La Follette, agrees, and that was one reason I picked her. It’s OK to get your heart rate way up, but just not for too long, so I watch that. If I’m not feeling all that great, I’ll cut a planned hour run to 30 minutes.”
Clara most certainly meets the high level test, possibly the most decorated open woman runner ever to have lived and trained in Marin. At Head-Royce — Clara grew up in Berkeley and went to East Bay schools — she won four state high school titles, three in cross country and one in track. Several of her Bay Counties League records still stand. She was a five-time All-American at Duke, and twice finished second at collegiate national championships (5,000 meters indoors, 10,000 meters outdoors).
After college, she became a professional runner, sponsored by Saucony and coached by 2008 Olympic marathoner Magdalena Lewy-Boulet (wife of ex-Drake High star Richie Boulet). Clara was 16th at the 2012 Olympic Trials marathon and won both the San Jose and the Great Half (San Francisco) half marathons.
“Clara has a great perspective on life. She is a wonderful, caring mother, daughter, sister, wife but a very fierce and talented competitor at the same time,” Lewy-Boulet said. “She sets no limitations on her ability to chase her dreams. It continues to amaze me how well she balances her daily responsibilities and how how much fun she has doing it.”
“Clara has all the tools and the talent to be at the top of the national racing scene,” Pilcher said. “But she’s been busy with two, soon to be three, kids while her competitors train full time. Clara has not let this get her down. She has still put up some remarkable times, which only indicates how good she will be when she can train full-time.”
Clara’s husband, Jeff Peterson, also a top competitor who ran the fastest actual time in the 2008 Double Dipsea and athletic director at San Francisco’s Town School, is fully supportive. His sister even pitches in with babysitting when Clara is running.
“Not a day goes by that people don’t ask me about Clara running pregnant,” Jeff said. “She is the most dedicated runner I know. She has not missed a day or contemplated missing a day of running, ever!”
Clara is not planning on much of a rest after childbirth.
She aims to race in the United States Half Marathon championships in Houston on Jan. 29. After that, she’s looking at the national 15K championships in the spring, then a sub-2:30 marathon in the fall. All roads lead to the Olympic Marathon Trials in 2016, and a berth on the U.S. team.
“Though I learned that it’s easier to run right before a birth than after — the body needs to heal — I intend to start training within two weeks,” Clara said. “The prime age for a marathoner is 30-35 and I don’t plan on having another child or going right back to work.”
Clara will be 32, in her prime, during the 2016 Olympic Games. She just may achieve her ultimate goal, to run the Olympic Marathon through the streets of Rio de Janeiro.
Barry Spitz is the author of ‘Dipsea: The Greatest Race.’ Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why pregnancy doesn’t keep me from running
Nov. 4, 2014 at 8:56 AM ET
Clara Peterson of Corte Madera, California, is a mom of three kids — ages 5, 3 and 11 months — and an elite runner who trained through all three of her pregnancies. Now 30, she is due in May with her fourth child and continues to run daily. She explains why pregnancy and motherhood does not stop the runner within.
I have been running since I was a fourth grader in Berkeley, California, and started training seriously in high school. I won my first of four state championships my sophomore year. And then went on to compete at the national level at Duke University and always planned to pursue a career in elite racing.
When I got pregnant with my son Ramsey, I never thought twice about continuing to train. It was by far the most challenging of the three pregnancies. You are experiencing hormones and your body feels so off. As an elite athlete, you are so in touch with your body, you know what’s OK, and what’s not. When you are so in tune and in control of your body, pregnancy is for sure a very foreign feeling.
My normal training regimen usually consists of 70 to 90 miles per week, with intense intervals as fast as 5 minute pace per mile. I have run two marathons , the first at the Olympic trials in 2012, eight months after my second child was born. And I ran the California International marathon last year. But I prefer local road races that are shorter. I don’t get on a starting line unless I’m going to run fast.
I was very tired in my first pregnancy. I had anemia and I could sleep till 1 p.m. every day. Of course you can’t do that when you have more than one child. But I had to really push myself to get out there and run.
There is no elite women runner out there who trains the same way when pregnant. During pregnancy, mileage comes down, and the intensity comes down. I average 40 to 60 miles a week. If I do 400 meter intervals, I’ll do them at a slower than normal pace. I don’t like getting my heart rate up for more than 3 minutes at a time.
And like any run— whether you are an elite athlete or a recreational runner, pregnant or not — the first five minutes of warm up are always uncomfortable. But after that passes, you get in the rhythm. You feel great.
It’s definitely more uncomfortable to run while pregnant. The strangest part — especially as you get further along— is the sensation of having the uterus, which is filled with that 6- to 7-pound child, on top of your bladder, and trying to run with it. It’s not really pain — just discomfort, from the pounding.
But I’ve found that with each pregnancy, running becomes more of a routine because I know what’s happening. I know that I am feeling this way because I’m four months or seven months. My body is becoming better at running with each child. It’s almost like a marathoner gets better at every marathon. I get more efficient at running with every pregnancy.
I consider pregnancy a break from elite training and my goal is to decondition as slowly as possible. So by the end of this pregnancy, at nine months, I’ll try to pull off a 6 mile run at a 7 to 8 minute-per-mile pace. At the end of my first pregnancy I was running much slower, at a 8:30 pace.
I run every day with the occasional day off. My OB-GYN doctor ran through her pregnancy and gave me advice that you if you take anything more than a week off, there is no going back. You are slowly easing into a changing body. If you aren’t running to acclimate, you lose your window.
But, you know, running is my thing. It’s my vice. Without it, I’m not the same. It’s healthy for my body, because that’s what it’s used to.
To pregnant women runners who ask me for advice, I always say, “If you are a runner, keep running. Do what you are doing and cut back slowly. If your body doesn’t agree with running, then don’t do it.”
Of course, I always tell everyone, the baby is first.
It’s hard for us elite runners because we have these control issues about making our body perform optimally. With pregnancy, you have to let the reins go.
If you are feeling good, you can run all the way to the end. It’s natural for me to keep going. And it can be the same for recreational runners. But ultimately you need to listen to your body and do what you’re doctor advises.
I’ve been very fortunate. But if I were to find out tomorrow that I had to go on bed rest, I’d suck it up and do it.
I’d be bummed, but the health of my baby is the priority.
The essay was written with the help of TODAY.com editor Kavita Varma-White.
When Paula Radcliffe won the New York City Marathon in 2007, nine months after giving birth to a daughter, Isla, Radcliffe was considered an anomaly. Her intense training through her pregnancy, which included twice-a-day sessions and grueling hill workouts, was scrutinized and criticized.
Seven years later, maintaining a top running career and a family has become relatively common. About a third of the women in the professional field of 31 for the New York City Marathon next Sunday have children.
“I watched Paula win New York, basically leading from the starting gun to the finish tape, and afterward she picked up her baby,” said Kara Goucher, a top American marathoner. “I realized I can do both. And I want to do both.”
Goucher, 36, finished third in the 2008 New York City Marathon, and this year she will run the New York race for the first time with her 4-year-old son, Colt, cheering her on.
When she contemplated having a child, Goucher engaged in the careful strategizing common to elite female athletes, who consider precisely when to become pregnant so as not to risk missing out on an Olympic medal or sacrificing a corporate sponsorship.
Elite female distance runners now run competitive times well into their late 30s. The average age of a top female marathoner is 30, and 19 women in next Sunday’s professional field are that age or older.
As athletic peaks for these top runners have overtaken fertility peaks, the decision to combine motherhood and training has become increasingly unavoidable. Competitive careers are stretching: The American Deena Kastor, expected to be another top finisher next Sunday, is 41.
“I always wanted to have a child,” Goucher said, “and I didn’t want to wait until I was done, because I don’t really see an end date on my career. I wanted more in my life than just running. But the details of how you do that can get incredibly complicated.”
Elite runners often try to squeeze in a pregnancy and recovery in the 16-month window between world track championships in years with no Summer Olympics. This is one such year, and pregnancies abound.
Maternity leave in professional running is rare. A pregnancy is still frequently treated as if it were an injury, and women can experience a pay cut or not be paid at all if they do not compete for six months. During that period, they often remain bound to sponsors in exclusive contracts that can last upward of six years. Because the athletes are independent contractors, they are not covered by laws that protect employed women in pregnancy.
Lauren Fleshman, an N.C.A.A. 5,000-meter champion and a professional runner, switched to a women’s-oriented sponsor, the running apparel company Oiselle, before having a son in June 2013.
It does not help that so many people seem to have an opinion on the matter. After Alysia Montaño, a 2012 Olympian, ran an 800-meter race in June during her eighth month of pregnancy, her decision became the subject of intense public scrutiny.
“I wanted to help clear up the stigma around women exercising during pregnancy, which baffled me,” Montaño said. “People sometimes act like being pregnant is a nine-month death sentence, like you should lie in bed all day. I wanted to be an example for women starting a family while continuing a career, whatever that might be. I was still surprised by how many people paid attention.”
Montaño’s daughter was born in August.
“Giving birth is a very athletic activity, like going through intervals on the track,” Montaño said. “Like contractions, intervals can start out easy and progress as they get harder. There’s sometimes a point where you wonder, ‘Can I do one more set?’ But you know you’re going to make it. And then you kick to the finish.”
Other women have chosen different paths.
Clara Horowitz Peterson, a former top runner at Duke, focused on starting a family in her mid-20s, aiming for a racing peak afterward. Now 30, she is pregnant with her fourth child.
“I think if I’d chosen to train at altitude and log 120-mile weeks, I could have made it to the Olympics,” said Peterson, who typically runs 80 to 90 miles a week when not pregnant. “But that comes with sacrifices; you put your career first, and before you know it, you’re 28, maybe confronting fertility issues. I always felt like having children was more important to me than a running career.”
Still, Peterson ran right up until the births of her first three children. She qualified for the 2012 United States Olympic marathon trials just four months after delivering her second child, and she logged a 2-hour-35-minute time at the race four months later.
“I trained hard through that pregnancy,” Peterson said. “You can tell when you’re pushing it. You get twingy, or feel tendons pulling, so I backed off when that happened.”
To bounce back for the trials, Peterson said, she breast-fed her second child for only five weeks — finding that the hormones related to breast-feeding made her feel sluggish — and dropped the 20 pounds she typically gained during pregnancy in eight weeks without dieting. (She breast-fed her third child for six months.)
The understanding of women’s physical resilience during and after pregnancy has also developed in recent years.
“We still don’t have good science to guide us,” said Dr. Aaron Baggish, associate director of the cardiovascular performance program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, which counsels elite athletes through pregnancy. “But unequivocally I think women should exercise through pregnancy, both for their baby and their own health. The body has evolved that way. Your baseline fitness level is the best guideline: Elite athletes start out with a higher threshold, so they can do more.”
After athletes give birth, efforts to get back into shape are consuming, coupled with the usual adjustments to caring for an infant. Breast-feeding interrupts the sleep that heals spent muscles and restores energy to a tired body. Babies are often kept out of group day care to prevent them from bringing home illnesses that could compromise rigid training plans.
Pregnancy can be hard to combine with any job. As in other fields, partners are generally a key component of elite athletes’ ability to continue their careers after having children.
Edna Kiplagat, a 35-year-old Kenyan who is among the favorites in next Sunday’s race, had two children before becoming a two-time marathon world champion and the 2010 winner in New York.
Her husband and coach, Gilbert Koech, gave up his running career to focus on hers and manage their family, making breakfast for their five children, three of whom are adopted, and taking them to school while Kiplagat trains.
Goucher’s husband, Adam, retired from professional racing a year after their son’s birth and started a running-related business. He tries to balance supporting her racing career with managing his new one, saying that he and Kara work to share equally in caring for Colt.
“Kara’s putting her body through a lot right now,” her husband said, “and we need to do everything possible to alleviate the stress of training. When she needs to go out and run, or needs to rest and recover, that’s my first priority.”
Goucher said she was taking the trade-offs in stride.
“It’s scary because the fact is for all women when you have a child, you do need to drop out for a long time, and you don’t know how you’ll come back,” she said. “It’s a huge risk. Of course, I’m serious about my job, but in life I needed to be more than that. So I think it was worth it.”
An inside look at fitness routines, by Anahad O’Connor.
When Paula Radcliffe won the New York City Marathon in 2007, the fact that she pulled it off less than a year after giving birth was considered something of an anomaly.
But a recent article in The Times, “For Pregnant Marathoners, Two Endurance Tests,” underscores how, for some athletes, juggling pregnancy with a training routine is becoming the norm. To better understand how and why some elite runners train through their pregnancies, we spoke with Clara Horowitz Peterson, a top runner and a mother of three.
Ms. Peterson, 30, has trained through four pregnancies, including her current one. She is 10 weeks pregnant and runs about 55 miles per week – a number that might sound like a lot, she says, but is substantially less than her usual mileage.
Ms. Peterson, who lives in California and is sponsored by Nike Trail, was an all-American in cross-country and track at Duke University and a runner for New Balance from 2006 to 2009. In 2012, she completed her first marathon at the United States Olympic Trials with a time of 2 hours 35 minutes 50 seconds, less than a year after giving birth to her second child.
While some women are encouraged to restrict physical activity because of complications, doctors generally recommend that pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. The levels that are considered safe will vary from one woman to the next, and experts recommend that women consult with their doctors — as Ms. Peterson did — before beginning an exercise program of any kind.
Here are edited excerpts from our conversation with Ms. Peterson.
How did you get into running?
I grew up in Berkeley, Calif., and started running in the fourth grade. Once a week I’d run with my dad a mile around the block. He had this group of guys he used to go running with and I would tag along. By my sophomore year of high school I won my first state championship. I won a total of four: three in cross-country and a track state championship in the two-mile.
Did you or your doctor have any concerns when you trained through your first pregnancy?
My doctor was onboard, and I felt comfortable continuing to run. But I always put my baby first. I never overdid it. If your doctor is monitoring you and you don’t have any weird pains, then it’s fine. I’ve heard of hundreds of women doing it.
Did you scale back your training?
Throughout pregnancy, I always slowly decrease the mileage and intensity. I think adding intensity when you’re pregnant is never O.K. If we’re talking about someone who normally runs 100 miles a week with intense workouts, then by the end it should be dwindled down to 40 miles a week with no workouts. For the average person, that’s a lot. But for an elite runner, it’s nothing. So it’s all about perspective.
Did you ever encounter any problems or complications?
I never experienced any weird pain or anything like that. When you have a six-pound baby in your stomach, it’s a little uncomfortable. But I listened to my body. There were days where I felt less up for it. And then there were days where I felt better. It was all about listening to my body, and I think that’s why I was able to handle more through the second and third pregnancies, because I think my body became conditioned to running in a pregnant state.
Runners like Paula Radcliffe and Alysia Montano have been praised but also criticized for training through their pregnancies. What do you say to critics?
Runners really know their bodies more than anybody. I figured out with my most recent three pregnancies at three weeks that I was pregnant. To be that in tune with your body, you have to really know what’s O.K. and what isn’t. We’re human beings who have tested our limits over and over again since we were teenagers. For an elite runner, the key to having a healthy baby is to do what your body is used to doing but at a much slower pace.
Alysia Montano went out at the U.S. championships and ran 2 minutes 30 seconds in the 800 meters, which is fantastic. But when she was in shape, she was over half a lap ahead of herself. She’s broken two minutes. For a normal person, that pace is insane. But for someone who is as highly conditioned as Alysia Montano, it wasn’t a big deal.
In 2011, you qualified for the Olympic marathon trials four months after giving birth. What went into your decision to train through that pregnancy?
Going into the pregnancy, I was in very good shape and I felt very motivated to run. In pregnancy, your body becomes deconditioned over time. So I just wanted to minimize my deconditioning as much as possible in a healthy way. I ran a lot, but by six months the longest run I did was probably 10 miles, and by the end I was probably running four to seven miles a day.
Throughout the pregnancy, I would do a lot of “pickups” when I ran. I would pick up my pace for a minute and then take a break, and I would do that 10 to 15 times, just to practice minor intensity. It was more to maintain routine. The quality of the workout compared to an elite runner was very minimal. For the average person it probably would’ve been hard, but there was no elite runner I would have been able to keep up with.
Is it physically a lot harder to run while pregnant?
Your gait changes a little bit. And as you get bigger, naturally, there’s a lot more discomfort. There’s definitely discomfort on the bladder because the uterus is right above it. Dealing with that is probably the hardest part about running while pregnant. In the last trimester, I planned out runs where I knew there were port-a-potties or restaurants along the way just to make sure I was able to relieve my bladder and not be forced to hold it.
Experts recommend that normal-weight women gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. How much weight do you typically gain?
If you’re running a lot, you’re not going to have excessive weight gain. I gained about 20 pounds with each kid. I haven’t had to worry about the feeling of acclimating to excessive weight gain, which I would imagine would be very hard to run with. You get a little more cushion here and there, but the majority of the weight gain was in my uterus.
What is your training regimen like? Was it the same for each pregnancy?
I went into each pregnancy with a different level of fitness. But I came into this one in pretty good shape. Right now I’m 10 weeks pregnant. I’m down to running about 50 to 60 miles a week, whereas I was running up to 80 before I got pregnant. I’m cutting out long runs.
Do you do any specific exercises to make it easier?
As a runner, it’s really important to do core and strength training to prevent injuries. So I do mostly body-weight exercises like lunges, planks and squatting. If you spend nine months not doing any core or strength training and then come back to it, it’s just so overwhelming.
Which exercises have you found most helpful while pregnant?
I would say any kind of foot-strengthening exercises. There’s so much pressure on your feet all day. Your feet are taking a beating, so I do a lot of heel-to-toe walks. I do a lot of hip and glute strengthening too. Any type of forward flexion is bad for the abdominals, so I tell pregnant women not to do crunches, sit-ups and things like that.
Doctors usually recommend four to six weeks of rest after giving birth. Did you follow that or did you take a different approach?
I started jogging very minimally after around two weeks with all of them – a very slow one-mile run. I start walking pretty early with all my kids just to get out and move my body around. But I have to say it wasn’t until about six weeks after giving birth that I could run up to an hour and have it feel O.K. I think I always start too soon because the runner inside of me just can’t hold back. But with every kid, at six weeks on the dot I’m like: “I feel good now. Let’s go!”
Do you follow a special diet?
I eat healthy and plentiful. I like keeping things healthy and organic but I don’t have many restrictions. I have to not only sustain energy to go run, but I also have to mother three children. So I eat a lot of large, healthy, balanced meals.
What tips do you have for other women who continue running while pregnant — barring any medical restrictions?
Always listen to your body. And never take too much time off because once you do, and you try to come back to it, it feels impossible. Three or four days you can get away with. But if you take a week off, it’s over. Even if it’s just going out for a one mile run, it helps.