Paula Radcliffe exclusive: ‘Running helped me enjoy my pregnancies’

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • We are very sad to hear the news that

    British marathon runner,

    Paula Radcliffe, can’t compete at the London 2012 Olympics because of a foot injury.

    In the months leading up to The Games we had the opportunity to talk to Paula and ask her how she juggles training with being a mum, and if you can exercise while pregnant in an exclusive goodtoknow interview.

    What does it mean for you to have the chance to compete at the Olympics on home soil?
    It’s really important. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when they first won the bid in 2005. That was a really exciting moment because it’s a unique opportunity for any athlete to compete in a home Olympics. It’ll be my 5th Olympics and to get the chance to do the home one at the end is really special.

    What does it mean to you to know your kids and family are watching and supporting you?
    All my family, friends and people who have supported me, it always means a lot. Raphael [1] is too young to really understand what’s going on at the moment, but Isla [5] definitely now understands and knows things about the Olympics, so that’s nice.

    You must be busy, how do you balance your training with being a mum of 2?
    I think it just means that you have to be a lot more organised than I probably was before and you have to have a lot of support and help. I’m really lucky with the amount of help and support I get from my husband and from the family who come and help with the children. My mum and my husband’s mum really help a huge amount.

    How do you keep up your energy levels?
    That’s something I’ve probably learnt over years and years of training. You do have to accept that after you’ve had children you have to keep an eye on your energy and recovery as well. Sometimes when you come in from training you run around making sure the kids are alright and it’s important to make sure you’ve refueled from the training as well.

    You continued running during your pregnancies. Did running help you bond with your bumps and help you through your pregnancies?
    It helped me to balance the time with my pregnancies to still get the enjoyment and me-time that I get from running. Being fitter passes itself on to the baby as well. It’s proven that the baby is born better able to handle the stress of delivery and it helps to be in better shape to go through the delivery. With Isla it worked against me because my muscle tone was so strong that slowed down the delivery process. But it did help with recovery.

    What other forms of exercise did you do while you were pregnant?
    I ran pretty much the whole way through, but from about 5 months I started elliptical work [on a cross trainer] and jogging.

    What would you say to other mums who may be worried about exercising during their pregnancies?
    Talk to your doctor about it. I was probably given a lot more monitoring through my first pregnancy with Isla because they were a bit taken aback by the amount of exercise I was planning on doing, but all the scans showed that she was doing really well the whole way through. And so for the second one I think they were a lot more relaxed.

    My doctor’s really nice. She said to me after Isla was born that she was a bit shocked at first, but now she’s going to recommend to all her mums to carry on doing some form of exercise if they were doing it before. The important thing is not to start doing something you haven’t done before. The whole time you don’t see it as training as such, it’s more staying in shape. Number one is always the baby throughout the pregnancy. I made sure everything was optimal for the baby.

    What activities do you do with your kids so they can play together?
    Both of them adore the water. I take them swimming. They’re active all the time. I think that’s one of the reasons why the Pampers Little Athlete Campaign* is so great, because kids are always active and always climbing, even when they’re supposed to be sitting still. They’re at the park morning and afternoon, Isla does a lot of bike riding – she’s now graduated to the 2-wheel scooter! Raphael’s already on the 3-wheel one. Isla does gymnastics too and wants to go to dance. So it’s giving them to chance to try lots of different sports and then later on is the time to find that one that you really have that passion for and want to take further.

    Isla’s very very patient with Raphael. We’ve had to teach her that when she spends ages building a Lego tower and then he just pulls it all apart, block by block, that that’s just what kids do and he’s not just doing it just to annoy her. Raphael’s first word after Mama and Dada was Isla. He runs around after her and follows her everywhere.

    How do you keep the kids entertained at home?
    They mostly entertain themselves. We allow them to discover things through playing. There are a lot of toys around. With Isla now she’s learning letters and counting and things like that.

    Pampers says: ‘A cruising baby can take as many steps as a marathon runner in a race within 24 hours’. Do you think this is true?
    Definitely. You can just see that. Both of my children have always slept really well at night and I think that when you sit back and watch how much they actually run around during the day, it’s no wonder, because they’re little legs must be exhausted by the end of it! They’re just constantly on the go and discovering new things and that’s why the campaign’s so great – it’s making sure they’re supported fully to be able to do that because that’s what enables them to learn and to discover and to get stronger.

    *Pampers Little Athlete Campaign provides parents with tips and advice on how to encourage their babies’ play, through online videos, featuring Paula and her son, Raphael. For more information, please see its Facebook page.

    Where to next?

    Dawn French: ‘I’d describe myself as pants!’

    Entertain your kids for free

    Celebs when they were kids