Inspirational FittaMamma Jo Johnston has continued to take part in regular running races, despite being pregnant for the third time. Jo, who ran a marathon when pregnant with her second child was determined not to give up running when she discovered she was pregnant again.
We asked Jo to tell us more about how she became motivated to run and continued to run during pregnancy.
How did you get started with running?
I started around six years ago, when one of my work colleagues had the bright idea that we should all do the Manchester 10k in the Spring! Several of us signed up as a bit of a challenge. I remember one cold February day when I started training and couldn’t believe how hard I found it! Despite being fairly slim and active I really struggled with the first session, which was basically run for two minutes, walk for one minute and repeat just five times!
Doing a 10k run seemed a massive leap and I doubted I’d ever get there, but I struggled on and built up slowly.
When the big day came most of the others had given up on the idea but I was determined and I loved the whole experience. I finished in about 58 minutes, delighted to come in at just under the hour. I immediately decided to build up to a half marathon and approximately one year after that first race I was taking part in the Paris marathon! I’ve now done ten marathons in total, some in the UK and others in Europe.
Tell us a bit more about some of the races you have experienced as a pregnant runner
My most memorable pregnancy running race would be the Manchester marathon. My first daughter was born in November and I decided to sign up for the marathon for the following April as an incentive to get in shape and get fit post pregnancy. However, in the January I was a bit surprised to discover I was pregnant again! I hadn’t had any symptoms as such and had already reached 20 miles in training so I was keen to carry on and complete the race if possible.
I sought the advice of my GP who advised that as an experienced marathon runner it would be ok for me to continue to run during pregnancy, provided I didn’t push myself too hard in either training or the race.
I loved the race itself and lots of my friends came out to support me! I was about 19 weeks pregnant at the time and really pleased to finish, though it took almost 5 hours!
During my current pregnancy I have completed two half marathons (at 16 and 22 weeks pregnant ) and am hoping to complete a further half marathon at 30 weeks.
I am finding the races a bit harder to run during pregnancy but I guess it’s not that surprising given all the bodily changes and extra weight!
Are your fellow- racers surprised to find a pregnant woman competing?
To be honest I’m not sure a lot of people noticed! I have had a few strange looks when out training though!
Have you had any negative comments about running during pregnancy or have you found people to be supportive?
Generally I’ve found people supportive, especially other sporty types – I guess they understand why I want to continue to run when pregnant. I was out running the other day and it was really warm and I didn’t have a drink. A cyclist who rode past me gave me a wave as he went past, then appeared a few minutes later to insist I have some of his water! He was really encouraging too and I was very grateful I must say!
Perhaps those who may be a bit more concerned are of an older generation, I guess exercise during pregnancy was not the norm in their day!
What tips would you give to other pregnant runners?
I’d say to take one run at a time and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you have a day when running feels like a struggle don’t give up -you get bad running days even when you’re not pregnant and the next time you might be fine!
Accept that you will find running harder than before you became pregnant and you’ll be slower and probably not be able to run as far – but it’s so much better than doing nothing. Just concentrate on doing what you can. Supportive shoes and undies are crucial and I’ve loved wearing the flattering but comfortable FittaMamma pregnancy fitnesswear! A great investment and they made me feel more confident about going out to be honest.
Did you get back into running soon after your babies were born?
I did! I had two very straightforward births, which I’m convinced my level of pregnancy fitness helped with. I was out running 2.5 weeks after each baby, though I started very slowly with short distances until I regained full fitness.
Jo continued to run 25-30 miles a week throughout her pregnancy and took part in the Cheshire Half-Marathon at 7 months pregnant. Wow!
Love Jo’s running gear? Jo wore FittaMamma supportive maternity fitness Capris for running when pregnant. We’d recommend our high impact support top to hold your bump securely – layer it with a ‘Running Buddy’ top.