makenna myler and her daughter kenny lou myler
(Photo/Makenna Myler)

Pro Runner Mom Has Tips on How to Run During Pregnancy

Think running a mile while 9 months pregnant is impossible? Think again: Makenna Myler did it in 5:25.

In the winter of 2020, professional runner Makenna Myler became pregnant with her first child. Never one to stray from hard work, she vowed to continue training throughout her pregnancy with the goal of competing again after giving birth.

Despite her efforts, her times began rapidly declining and her husband bet her $100 that she couldn’t run an 8-minute mile at 9 months pregnant.

Nine months later, Myler toed the start line at her hometown track with a bulging belly and her husband on the sidelines, stopwatch in hand. Not only did she win the bet, but Myler crossed the finish line with a mile time many could only dream of achieving: 5:25.

A few weeks later, she gave birth to her daughter: Kenny Lou Myler. And even in the months following Kenny Lou’s birth, Myler continued her impressive trajectory and became a professional sponsored runner.

We caught up with her to find out how she did it and what tips she has for mothers-to-be who want to keep running in their routine.

Makenna Myler: Running Through Pregnancy

Two weeks postpartum, Myler laced up her shoes and was back on the trails. She carefully listened to her body and after a couple of months of slowly ramping up her mileage, she was back in full training mode.

Six months postpartum, Myler stepped on the track for her first race back where she not only won, but also smashed her personal best by 25 seconds.

A few weeks later, she dropped her 5K by 11 more seconds, finishing with a time of 15:34. After that, she raced the 10K at the Portland Track Festival where she finished with a time of 32:03. Once again, she set a personal best and earned herself a spot at the Olympic Trials.

Shortly after the trials, Myler signed with ASICS, officially fulfilling her dream of becoming a professional athlete.

makenna myler running after pregnancy
(Photo/Makenna Myler)

Although Myler’s story is an impressive one, it wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Upon discovering she was pregnant, Myler consulted with her doctor to ensure the safety of both her health and her baby’s throughout the pregnancy.

She cut her mileage drastically and switched to one workout a day, keeping a weekly long run in the mix. Occasionally, she’d throw in interval training, careful to listen to her body, and only attempted harder workouts on the days she felt good.

If you’re looking to keep running after you get pregnant, Myler has some tips for you.

Running While Pregnant: How to Do It Safely

Listen to Your Body

“Pregnancy is just another opportunity to learn to listen to your body in a slightly different way than you’re used to. If you are going to push your body and you give it the proper rest and nutrition afterward, your body will respond to you pushing it.”

Over the course of her pregnancy, Myler had to drastically cut her mileage. She cut her mileage by 40% during the first trimester, 50% in the second, and 60-70% in the third.

Some days, she didn’t listen well and needed her husband to come rescue her halfway through a run. Other days, she swam instead of running. And when she did run, she tried to avoid looking at her watch and run by feel as opposed to trying to hit a specific pace.

Trust Your Capabilities

“You know your body and you’ll be able to tell if there’s a harsh pain —  then you should stop. But if you’re not feeling any pain and it’s just slightly uncomfortable and you have a healthy pregnancy, you can have faith that your baby is very protected in that little home you made for it. Your body is incredible.”

During the process, Myler thought about our ancestors and their active lifestyles. Myler noted that if she wanted her offspring to be able to survive in harsh conditions, then she needed to be able to difficult things in harsh conditions as well. For her, that was continuing to run and trusting her body to carry her through.

makenna myler training
(Photo/Makenna Myler)

Build In Extra Recovery Time

“My rest time pretty much doubled or tripled during my pregnancy. A lot of your resources are going to growing a human, so you are not getting a portion of the resources you need to recover. It’s important to build in extra recovery time after you break down your body.”

Myler says her recovery time tripled or doubled during her pregnancy. If she did a hard workout, then she’d have to wait a week or two before attempting another one. She also napped, a lot. (Something we can all get on board with, whether pregnant or not.)

makenna myler and her family
(Photo/Makenna Myler)

Have a Flexible Plan

“Finding the balance is tricky. When you have a plan, it helps you work in a recovery day. Then, when you execute that plan, you get the opportunity to listen to your body and see if it’s too much — if you’re starting slow then it is, but if your body is responding and picking up, then you’re not overdoing it. But some days, you have to throw out the plan.”

Myler was good about building a training plan that incorporated a regular long run, interval training, and most importantly, a recovery day. Most of the time, she’d stick to the plan, but some days she had to end her run early.

Other days, she’d show up to train with her track club and quickly have to call the workout. It was embarrassing, she says, but people give you props for taking care of yourself.

Celebrate Small Wins

“Give yourself space and time but also engage your body and move, even if that’s just walking out the door. I’m all about small wins and letting those small wins add up. I think it helps you feel successful. and that’s a big deal in helping you be a better mother.”

For Myler, small wins meant a celebratory victory when she made it 2 miles (even though she set out to do 10), doing two strides when she could have walked, and focusing on a quarter-mile at a time when it was windy.

She adjusted her mindset and postpartum, still practices giving herself grace and focusing on an attitude of gratitude, as opposed to one of frustration.

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