When runners show up to the start line of a race and look around, there are a lot more females toeing the line than there used to be. According to the research done by Run Repeat, 23% of participants are female, compared to just 14% 23 years ago. With incredible female athletes such as Courtney Dauwalter, Camille Herron, and Maggie Guterl, females are just as tough competitors as the males, with their physical and mental strength, and stamina.
But one thing that does separate the men from the ladies - is motherhood. So what is it like for a female runner during the journey of pregnancy?
Team Injinji Ambassador Cate Barrett is an elite marathoner who competes in Olympic marathon trials with a personal record time of 2:43 at the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento of December 2018. She first came to Injinji looking for a compression sock that wasn’t too restrictive for her feet. Once she tried a pair, she was hooked and never looked back. When COVID-19 first hit in the early spring, cancelling her 2020 racing season, she decided it was the perfect time to start a family.
This is Cate’s first pregnancy (CONGRATS to the whole family!) and she was very lucky in her first trimester of not having to deal with the typical morning sickness or nausea. She continued her running routine of 55 miles a week and ran virtual races and challenges in April and May. In fact, she won 2 out of the 3 virtual races, and made it to the “Elite 8” of the Survival of the Fastest Challenge.
Cate’s mantra was to listen to her body and to just keep running until she couldn’t anymore. In her second trimester, her weightlifting workouts ended, mostly due to not being able to go to a physical gym but also because she wasn’t really “feeling it.” Her recovery time took longer, and her pace slowed down. Cate took advantage of this “break” and added in more massages, PT work, bike rides with friends and of course more sleep. Later on, after acquiring some equipment for her home gym, she added strength training back to her routine.
When asked about getting any backlash for safety concerns with running and being pregnant, it was great to hear that she hasn’t experienced any. Cate has been so grateful with the amount of support she has obtained from the running community, inspiration from other mother runners, and her own doctor who is also a female runner.
So, what tips does Cate have for female runners who are looking to start a family?
Cate admits that she was fortunate enough to get pregnant quickly, while other moms-to-be might struggle with this. “I’ve asked my body to do a lot in training all these years. So, I feel lucky that when I asked it to do something new, it was up to the task.” She advises to follow inspirational and encouraging mothers on social media and other platforms. They are honest about their struggles and reduction of running activity. “You are not alone. If you are worried about your body and training - yes your body will change externally and internally and everyone is different. Not everyone can run the whole pregnancy until the due date, and that is totally ok.”
Final words from Cate - “Don’t be afraid to be honest about not being able to work out or getting in a rut mentally.”
Follow Cate Barrett on her pregnancy journey and her next virtual challenge in September, the Women Run the Vote, a movement engaging athletes to encourage women to vote.