Running for Two

After an awesome summer of training with the BC Endurance Project I was feeling fit, strong, and ready to test myself at the Vancouver Eastside 10km.  I felt unusually tired the days preceding and during the race, resulting in a disappointing finish.  Immediately speculating low iron I had my blood checked – all normal.  But I was still feeling fatigued in workouts and now nauseous throughout the day. Turns out I was about a month pregnant!


I knew I could run during pregnancy, but I was unsure about the specifics – How far? How fast? Could I still do workouts? What about weights and plyometrics? What exercises should or shouldn’t I do? Was I going to have to start cross training? What about my diet? 


I immediately searched Pubmed (biomedical literature database) to find the latest research.  Unfortunately I was greatly disappointed. Very few studies have been done on elite female athletes during pregnancy. As a result a lot of general guidelines exist for recreational runners who, with their doctors’ approval, can basically continue their current exercise regimes.  My questions were still unanswered, so I started asking elite women runners across the country about their pregnancy training experiences.  After consulting with my family doctor and physiotherapist (who specializes in pre and post natal care) we devised a training plan that would work for me.


The most important thing I’ve learned thus far in my new journey is that every woman is different.  Exercise and strength training can be part of a healthy pregnancy both for the mother and the fetus however it is very important to consult your doctor and listen to your body.  As an elite runner I’m used to putting myself through severe pain on a regular basis and ignoring my body’s signs of fatigue.  However pregnancy is the time to give in to these signs and do what your body is telling you it wants (e.g., slow down, stop, take a day off).


Although pregnancy has prevented me from racing the half marathons I was planning this fall I was still able to participate in the Victoria 8km and the Whister50 Relay.  While pacing myself based on both heart rate and perceived effort I was able to have a great time being part of something bigger than myself and running for the pure enjoyment of the movement.


A lot of people have asked me how I feel about my comeback to racing post-pregnancy.  I’m not concerned at all.  I know my fitness will take a hit and training will initially be a struggle.  But like returning from an injury, I know with time and patience I will return, and who knows maybe even perform better!  Fortunately I have a lot of amazing elite runner-mom role models locally, nationally and internationally.  These women have shown me that balancing an elite running career, work, and motherhood is possible.


I’ve raced a lot of 5,000m on the track and so far pregnancy is quite similar.  Broken down into three miles (trimesters). The first mile is kind of a whirlwind. You get off the starting line jostle for position and attempt to figure out the competition and how the race is going to unfold.  Before you know it someone’s calling out the one mile split and you’re into the second mile. You’ve settled down at this point – feeling good, staying relaxed and trying to maintain pace.  Waiting for that final third mile to come where you have to focus and be prepared to respond to anything.


A big thank you to Mizuno for their continued support both before and during pregnancy. With my new pair of Rider 18’s and Sayonara’s I’m ready to run this second trimester or as long as my body allows me to.  Happy running everyone!

 Sabrina Wilkie

Sabrina grew-up in Langley, BC and now calls Vancouver home with her husband Mark Wilkie.  After one year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Sabrina transferred to the University of British Columbia to pursue a degree in Kinesiology while competing in both cross country and track and field.  During her years as a Thunderbird Sabrina was an Academic and Athletic All-American in the NAIA specializing in the 5,000m.  Upon achieving her undergraduate degree Sabrina went on to complete a Master of Science in Exercise and Respiratory Physiology at UBC.  Currently Sabrina trains with the BC Endurance Project under the guidance of Coach Richard Lee.  In the past year Sabrina has set personal bests in every distance from the 3,000m to the half marathon  and represented Canada at the 2014 NACAC Cross Country Championships.


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