A surprise pregnancy isn't preventing top runner Sarah Brown from training for the 2016 Summer Olympics, though she's due just three months before trials.
Sarah Brown is among the most elite runners in the country. In fact, she's training for next summer's Olympics in Rio. She's also 20 weeks pregnant.
The 29-year-old, who specializes in the 800 and 1500 meters, didn't know she was expecting at first, but noticed she was starting to slow down and lacked her usual energy.
"That kick [that] had always been there this year just wasn't. It was a bit baffling to me," recalls her husband and coach, Darren Brown. In fact, Brown did not even qualify for the world championship team after an uncharacteristically weak performance at the U.S.A. Track & Field Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Back at home, Brown's training was off, too.
"You're so in tune to your body, and my body was at its peak fitness. I had been running the best times I had ever run [and then] I couldn't get through one interval of a workout," she says.
Brown didn't think she could be pregnant because she had an IUD, and because a home test revealed a negative result. So she pushed herself to the next race, and barely made it across the finish line due to dizziness and low energy.
After seeing her doctor back at home, Brown learned that she was indeed pregnant. The star runner immediately worried the IUD could have harmed her baby. Those concerns were soon laid to rest, but the next worry the soon-to-be parents had to address was a biggie: How could she safely train for the Olympics while expecting?
Brown will have to complete most of her training while pregnant. The Brown's baby is due in March, just three months before the Olympic trials. And as for sitting out this year? The soon-to-be mom says that option has never been on the table.
Instead, Brown's workouts consist of more cross-training, jump rope, fast footwork, and swimming rather than just straight running. She sticks to low-intensity workouts on her more challenging days, and focuses on positive energy to motivate her, especially because she admits there's plenty of negativity about her decision to keep training for the Olympics while pregnant. But Brown's doctor supports her, as she is more fit than the average woman, and her body is used to intense workouts.
Brown has been chronicling her training-while-pregnant journey on Instagram. She captioned the above photo, which spotlights her barely-there bump: "The track is where it's at! Nice to be back on the track for my 29th birthday & 17th week of pregnancy." And about the below photo, the fit mama-to-be said: "Stability ball leg curls during our afternoon lifting session. Great core & hamstring work! #road2trio #21weeks #bteam" (How perfect is that #road2trio hashtag?! Love it!)
"If the odds can be so stacked against me getting pregnant and yet I still manage to find a way, then who's to say that I can't beat the odds again?" Brown wrote on her blog.
Meanwhile, the couple just found out they are expecting a baby girl. The excited dad says, "I think about this little girl coming into the world, and I think about the opportunity to bring another woman who is as strong, tenacious, athletic, competitive, and caring as my wife into this world, [and] that makes me incredibly excited. I hope that she takes after my wife."
Sniff. Oh, and you go, girl!
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.