Great Expectations

VIDEO: Is Running During Pregnancy Safe?

Pregnancy, and its ensuing labor, is often referred to as coma marathon. If that's true, then two expectant moms have a distinct advantage.

Paula Radcliffe, 36, the marathon world record holder (2:15:25) from England, and Kara Goucher, 32, one of America's top female marathoners (2:25:53), are expecting babies on the very same day -- Sept. 29.

Until recently, the two women knew each other mainly as competitors. In 2007, they raced each other at the Great North Run, a prestigious half-marathon in England, where Goucher staged an upset victory over Radcliffe. The following year, they both lined up at the ING New York City Marathon, where Radcliffe won her third title and Goucher took third in her marathon debut. But the serendipitous timing of their pregnancies (Radcliffe's second, Goucher's first) has helped them form a close friendship and special bond. As professional athletes in the prime of their careers, Radcliffe and Goucher are used to demanding a lot from their bodies -- logging about 100 miles a week and maintaining a 5:40-per-mile pace over 26.2 miles is simply part of the job. But pregnancy demands a lot from a woman's body, too. They still work out -- twice a day, even -- but at a fraction of their previous speeds and intensities (although world-class "slow," as you'll see, is still pretty fast).

Luckily, Radcliffe and Goucher spent their first trimesters running together in Portland, Oregon, where they commiserated through exhaustion, nausea, and frequent pit stops. In June, about halfway through their pregnancies, the two slowed down in New York City long enough to talk with Runner's World Senior Editor Katie McDonald Neitz, who had her first child in November 2008, about training, belly-rubbing, and craving Marmite and Ben & Jerry's.

RUNNERS WORLD: How are your pregnancies going?

KARA GOUCHER: Because this is my first pregnancy, I didn't know what to expect. During my first trimester, I felt tired and nauseous, but usually 10 minutes into a run, I'd feel better. By the fifth month, I felt great -- I was able to train twice a day and lift weights three days a week. But priorities definitely have shifted. Training isn't about staying fit as much as staying sane.

PAULA RADCLIFFE: You don't understand what tiredness is until you are pregnant. No matter how tired you might feel at the end of a marathon or a hard training week, it's nothing to how tired you are in that first trimester. I never had morning sickness. With this pregnancy, I felt queasier in the afternoons during the first trimester. I don't know whether it's because I'm three years older or just because pregnancies are different. But to get out and run, you feel a little bit better. Like Kara said, running now is about staying sane, but it's also keeping yourself fit because that's what we do, and also because all of the research says that it's good for the baby, too. It's hard when people say, "Are you sure you're doing the right thing? What if you're shaking that baby to death?" That worried me the first time. I'm more relaxed this time. I mean, obviously I still do all of the checks to make sure that all of the kicks are still there in the right places and that I'm eating right. I don't regret anything I did through my pregnancy with Isla [her 3-year-old daughter]. She came out perfect, so hopefully the same thing will happen again.

Any food cravings?

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