How 3 Elite Athletes Train While Pregnant

In the span of five months, three of the world's top marathoners welcomed babies into their families.

Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor and Paula Radcliffe—who all hope to be on the starting line of the 2012 Olympic marathon—talk about how they're managing one of the most exciting and challenging times of their lives.

  • Deena Kastor, 38, Mammoth Lakes, California, holds the American record in the marathon (2:19:36) and won bronze in the 2008 Olympic marathon in Beijing. Piper Bloom, her first child, was born February 21, 2011.
  • Kara Goucher, 33, Portland, Oregon, ran her first marathon in 2:25:53, the fastest debut by an American woman in history. Coincidentally, this was roughly the same length of time it took to push her first child, Colton Mirko, into the world. He was born September 24, 2010.
  • Paula Radcliffe, 38, Monaco, is a British athlete who holds the marathon world record: 2:15:25. She has won the ING New York City Marathon three times, most notably in 2007, just 10 months after giving birth to daughter Isla. Her second child, Rafa?l, was born September 29, 2010.

Elite marathon runner Kara Goucher answered the phone and immediately apologized. "I'm sorry, but there might be an interruption," said the 33-year-old, explaining that her five-month-old son Colton would be on her lap during our interview. "My husband had a doctor's appointment, so, hopefully, the baby will be good."

A similar scenario had played out a few days earlier. I had checked Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor's blog to prep for our upcoming call, only to learn that she had given birth to daughter Piper Bloom the day before. Emails flew back and forth between me and her husband, Andrew, rescheduling for three weeks later when Kastor's parents would be in town and could help out.

The scenes were fitting starts to conversations with two of America's top marathoners on juggling motherhood with the demands of being an elite athlete. Women's Running caught up with them this spring—as well with Britain's top marathoner Paula Radcliffe, who had given birth to her second child five days after Goucher delivered.

Here, the three women share how they balance high mileage with naps and bedtime stories.

By Following Their Hearts—and Checking the Olympic Calendar

In 2006, when Radcliffe was considering starting a family, her mom gave her good advice: "There never is a right time on paper, just whenever it feels right for you." Although pregnancy would mean a year off from competition, Paula had no doubts. "I'd always wanted children and didn't want to get to the point where I'd feel like it was too late," she says of taking a break to have her daughter Isla, now four. As for the timing of her second child, Radcliffe targeted the time frame between Beijing and London, so that she could grow her family and still go for gold at the Olympics.

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