Half Marathon Recap: Milk on the Run

If you’ve been following along, I trained for and ran a half marathon last weekend after my friend (and fellow nursing mother) had a prophetic dream that we did it.

Since January, I’ve worked to return to some semblance of my former, very fit self. I shifted my perspective about my workouts and am proud to say we completed the race! I’m prouder to say I registered that very night for a 10k in September, so I know I’ll stick with the workouts. But, first, some observations about the logistics of long runs plus lactation.

I felt so great about my training and shifted perspective–I let go of the idea of running the whole race, feeling ok about doing a walk/run combo–that my main concerns were getting to the start line and managing engorgement on race day.

My son turned 1 two days before the race and we’re starting to introduce cow’s milk while he is separated from me. So, I was neither worried about him starving nor about my supply being affected. I was, however, worried about being uncomfortable and maybe leaking all over the place.

Since his usual wake time is 5am, I felt pretty certain he’d sleep in on race day. This ended up being accurate (obviously!), but before I went to bed that night, I had set up my breast pump alongside my sneakers and running clothes. I sat down and pumped a startling amount of milk at 5:30, got dressed, ate breakfast, and popped out the door to meet my ride.

women wearing medals

Never underestimate the power of a supportive mama friend! Becky and I are “Runners of Steel.”

I was right to be anxious about getting to the start. 30,000 people crammed into downtown Pittsburgh, where there is no grid system and all the start corrals were over-full. They also, for some reason, were not lined up alphabetically. It was really a cluster fart trying to find where we needed to be and we only crossed the start line around 7:30.

My body is used to nursing my little booger every 2 hours (yes, even at 12 months), so by the start gun at 7, I knew I was already full of milk. I did not bring a pump with me to the race, though. I chose to rely on adrenaline and a very tight sports bra. And it was fine!

It was actually more than fine. Becky and I ran almost the whole race, only walking through water stations and a few bits of the bigger hills. We finished right around 10:30, just like I’d expected. By then, it’d been 5 hours since I pumped and I was starting to feel it. My baby, though, was home with his grandparents and I realized I underestimated how long it would take us to get out of the finish line festivities and navigate road closures.

By the time I sat down to nurse at my house, it was 11:30 and I was about to burst! I didn’t even shower first, just sat down right in my race funk and put baby to breast. Aaahhhh, relief!

I will share that we ran alongside a mama who was running the full marathon. Heather has a 3-month-old at home and an abundant milk supply to begin with. Despite nursing before heading to the start line, she was full to the bursting point while we were running. Not even a double sports bra was helping her out by mile 20. Since her house was along the marathon course, she dashed home quickly to pump mid-race, and then ran right back out to finish the last 6 miles.

So there you go. Turns out it’s not that big a deal to be away from a nursing 12-month-old for 6 hours while running a race. A bigger deal for a nursing 3-month-old, but not insurmountable with access to express milk mid-race.

Did you complete a fitness challenge while you were nursing a baby? Leave a comment to share your memories of your milk supply on the big day!

3 comments to Half Marathon Recap: Milk on the Run

  • Between my two daughters, I’ve run 5 half marathons and 1 full marathon while nursing, so it is definitely do-able. It’s hardest when they’re little, so I did all of these races when they were 5 months+. I always pump or nurse right before I leave the house. I’m planning on more babies, many more years of nursing, and tons of races…so I gotta make it work! Great job, Katy! And bravo to the marathon-running-nursing-mom. AWESOME.

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