Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"That is happiness; to be disolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep." - Willa Cather

Friday, 26 February 2010

Prepare to be amazed: Nicole Hunt discusses her running and pregnancy

I'm not the type of blogger who normally interviews. I don't actually even read interviews that often. But I hope you'll enjoy the following as much as I did:

Nicole Hunt is a new mother who lives in Montana. She is also a runner. And a fast one. Her 5000 PR is 15:52, her 10k PR is 32:48 and her marathon PR, in the 2004 Olympic trials was 2:40. She won the 2006 USA mountain running championships. She is a nurse and running coach and ran through her entire pregnancy (even 7 miles on her treadmill the day her water broke...). You can probably all see why she fascinates me. And why I was thrilled when she agreed to answer some questions.

Can you tell us a little about how and when you started running?

I started running around age 9. My parents would drop me off in the mountains and I would run down the hill. I loved the feeling of being alive and free.

What is your education and work background?
Bachelors of science in nursing and ACE certified personal trainer. Worked as a nurse for several years but realized that I was passionate about the science of running fast for myself and for others so I pursued that direction instead.

What is the running accomplishment you are most proud of?
Oh, that is so difficult for me. I am really happy about breaking 16 min for the 5k because it was a dream goal. I truly believe I ran that time because I believed in myself. (I went from an 18 min 5k runner in college to sub 16). That experience set the precedent for all my future goals. That experience taught me that if you believe in your mind you can truly accomplish a goal and you work really hard to achieve it, anything is possible.

I have to congratulate you on your 20 month old son Eon. :) He is just adorable. And I hope you don't mind me asking some questions about your pregnancy. I hope they don't seem too personal. I am just trying to be specific so other pregnant women runners can learn a bit and perhaps be reassured.

How old were you when you got pregnant? 37 and we planned it

What was your approximate BMI when you got pregnant? 5'2" and 100lbs. (18.3). Throughout my running career I was always regular with my periods even with a low body fat percentage. I attribute that to eating 3000 plus calories a day with plenty of healthy fats.

Did you alter your training plan at all when you learned you were pregnant? Yes but for me I had no choice since I had labored breathing at about 6 weeks. I was forced to run slow since I felt out of breath.

What was your training plan? Run moderate w/some strides a few times per week. (I stopped strides at about 25 weeks due to them feeling uncomfortable)

Did you use any specific parameter as a sign you were pushing yourself too hard (heart rate, speed, contractions, gut feeling, there is no "too hard", etc)? My breathing was labored at 9 min pace so it forced me to run slow. When I felt Braxton hicks cx I also slowed down

Did you suffer any injuries while pregnant and, if so, what was your recovery strategy?
No injuries

I have read you were able to keep running your entire pregnancy, but did your mileage go down through the trimesters? Yes. There was a point during my 2nd trimester where I thought I could not run. I was experiencing intense calf pain, hip tightness and had to pee every 5 min. Luckily those symptoms only lasted a week. After that week, I still experienced all 3 symptoms throughout my pregnancy but not as severe. During my last few weeks I was running very very slow but I was still able to run the miles. I felt best during my last trimester (except for the final week)

What was your specific weekly mileage before, during and after pregnancy?
60-80 miles per week before
50-65 all three trimesters
55-80 now

How much weight did you gain? 25 lbs (100 lbs to 125 lbs)

Was Eon born on time? 1 week early- 39 weeks. Were there any complications? Not with his birth but I had a tough 32 hour labor. I had back labor coupled with back spasms with contractions every 2-3 min throughout the labor. Eon weighed 7lbs 4oz and me being petite, he was a big baby for me so big I needed a C-Sect. I desired a natural birth.

Did you breastfeed? Are you still breastfeeding? Have there been any running-related issues with that?
I am breastfeeding now and Eon loves milk!! I have no running related issues. I ensure I hydrate a lot. Eon does not seem to care if I do hard workouts or long runs. I have plenty of milk for him and he makes the sign for milk all day.

Do you feel that being pregnant helped your training or that it was a setback?
It likely helped my training since I had a few aches and pains that healed up during pregnancy

Have you been able to lose the pregnancy weight?
Yes but just accomplished about a month ago.

Have you returned to your pre-pregnancy speed? No, but honestly I am not training as hard as I was.

Now my husband, SR, has a question: He considers himself a fast runner and thinks ultramarathons ruin his speed and wants me to stop pressuring him to run them (no marital tension here). Have you ever run an ultra marathon? No

What are your thoughts on ultras?
It depends how you train for ultras. If you train for ultras as you would a marathon (lactate threshold training, hills, vo2 max, sprints, long stamina runs) you will definitely not lose your speed. I think ultras are a great tool to help you run faster for the shorter distances as long as you train smart and allow for proper recovery.

Do you have any specific advice to pregnant runners or new running moms out there?
Read the book Exercising through Pregnancy by Dr James Clapp. It was a tremendous help and motivator for me to keep running and exercising.

You can read more about Nicole's pregnancy and life as a new mom at Running Mama's Journey .


Mapp said...

Hi you two!

Cool reading about Nicole on this blog! I have read SLG's and Nicole's blogs since I discovered I was pregnant with Malo, and it was great to see other future mums were running through pregnancy, too! I also read Clapp's book, and I agree it is good reading.

One thing I found was missing in this book though, was thoughts / advice on pelvic floor recovery post partum (is it maybe he is a guy and has not thought about it?!). I found it hard to know what to do / not to do, and for some reason, did not feel as comfortable just relying on "as long as it feels good, just do it", as I did during pregnancy. In the end, I felt I did not want to run the risk of problems 5-10 years down the line, and decided to strengthen my pelvic floor first, then build my abs back, before starting running again, 6-7 weeks after giving birth (against my midwife's advice to wait for... 6 months!). Then again, I ran all the way through the end of pregnancy, so my decision may not seem very logical!

What's you girls' view on this, both as runners and MD/nurse?

Danni said...

Very cool! And a Montanan no less!

cherelli said...

Thanks for this - I follow Nicoles blog and continue to be amaze at how much running and time she spends in the outdoors, it's inspiring!

Marathon Mom said...

Thanks for posting, this was great to read. It was great to read about someone else's experience that is so similar to mine, well except running to the end and the PRs ;) Percect timing for me as I am gettign back into running after baby and 2 1/2 months.

Unknown said...

Great interview! Inspiring :)