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Fit Follow-Up: Alysia Montaño

  • Name: Alysia Montaño
  • Baby: Daughter Linnéa Dori, born August 15, 2014
  • Claim to Fame: Montaño became an international sensation last summer when, at 34 weeks pregnant (nearly eight months, pictured above left), she ran the 800 meters at the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, California. She crossed the finish line more than 30 seconds slower than her personal best, but was fast and fierce enough to prove that a well-trained pregnant body can do just about anything. “All the beautiful endorphins and emotions that are kind of coursing through me,” she said at the time, “I got to share that with my budding baby." Montaño is fully back in action. She placed second in her first post-baby race (the 400 meters) earlier this month at the Husky Classic in Seattle and is set to compete at this weekend’s USATF Indoor Track & Field Championships in Boston (February 27 to March 1). We caught up with her.

Update: Montaño won the 600 meters at the Indoor Track & Field Championships on March 1 in a time of 1:26.59—winning by more than a second.

Q: You received a lot of press for racing so late in your pregnancy. What did you think of that?

A: I was very surprised by the amount of attention that I received. I knew I would have some, but I never imagined it would go global. I received messages from people all over the world with pictures of me on the front page of their newspapers and features on news stations all over Europe and Asia.

Q: That is amazing. How did you get ready to run that race?

A: I prepared by keeping a low profile. I did not tell anyone about my decision to run except my husband, midwife and coach, so that kept me focused on my task and did not invite any outside influences.

Q: How did you approach your training throughout your pregnancy?

A: I did not think of it as training at all. I had the mindset to stay in shape for my biggest challenge yet: labor and birth. I would always listen to my body and mind and did what felt right. Running, the ElliptiGO or weights were in a steady rotation to keep my body in tune and not turning into mush from just lying around with my feet up for nine months. I knew I was doing something great for my baby and for me.

Q: Were there any objections to your fitness strategy?

A: I did not run into any resistance from my doctor, midwife, family or friends. I went into pregnancy with an eagerness to learn. I asked the professionals many questions before I began exercising. Then I received support from all of my loved ones because they knew I loved my baby more then myself. I would do everything in my power to provide the best for her.

Q: Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

A: I think my pregnancy went perfectly and I was able to give birth naturally to a healthy baby girl. I did not need to modify much. As the pregnancy progressed my body did that for me. I would just get out and see what my body would allow; it could be running for five miles or walking for three. I never pushed myself beyond my limit because my body knew what it was capable of.

Q: How has your recovery and comeback been?

A: My recovery has been amazing. I waited two weeks to steadily build up to running. I started out walking then progressed to power walking and then on to jogging. What was most surprising was my cardiovascular fitness that was always there. I just needed to wait until the hormone relaxin cleared out so my joints and ligaments could return to normal before I could begin any real running or sprints.

Q: That’s quick! How do you think your level of activity affected the birth?

A: It affected it greatly. I was able to have confidence in myself and in my baby to be able to labor at home. I knew we were both healthy and ready for the event. I would not say it was easy, but I would say I was ready for the work ahead and my husband was, too. He helped me stay focused and helped me relax into each contraction, which progressed my dilation very quickly. The whole focus was to stay in shape for labor specifically. To keep my lungs and muscles ready for long and efficient pushing.

Q: What advice would you give pregnant women and new moms when it comes to fitness and sticking with their workouts?

A: Do what you have been doing, but do not start anything new. I say this because you know what feels right and what feels wrong when you are doing exercises you have done before. You know when to stop or lessen the intensity. I believe in writing down goals and making a schedule. Planning makes things easier. I would advise women to plan out three days a week to work out and to have a rotation of exercises to keep things fresh and different. And, if possible, find an exercise partner: Drag the baby daddy, friend, mother or whoever with you to keep you honest and safe.

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