View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Sports Crazed: Alysia Montaño had her reasons to run

Montaño explains why she competed during pregnancy

Posted: August 17, 2014 11:03 p.m.
Updated: August 17, 2014 11:03 p.m.
Alysia Montaño, left, competes in an 800-meter prelim race at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships in Sacramento on June 26. Montaño was 34 weeks pregnant during the race. Alysia Montaño, left, competes in an 800-meter prelim race at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships in Sacramento on June 26. Montaño was 34 weeks pregnant during the race.
Alysia Montaño, left, competes in an 800-meter prelim race at the U.S. outdoor track and field championships in Sacramento on June 26. Montaño was 34 weeks pregnant during the race.

Ever hear of those people who never take sick days at work?

Canyon High School graduate Alysia Montaño is one of those. Only in her case, her job is to run really fast all the time.

The 28-year-old has excelled at her sport since high school and she’s competed at the highest levels, including national and world championships as well as the Olympics.

People that know her well talk about her passion and her unparalleled work ethic. Whether it’s running or playing soccer or something as simple as going for a walk, Montaño loves being active more than anything.

Those who understand Alysia Montaño probably weren’t surprised on June 26 when they saw her sprinting around the track at the U.S. track and field championships while boasting a nearly eight-months pregnant belly.

National media and social media went crazy.

What in the world is this pregnant woman doing running the 800 meters in the nation’s most elite track and field competitions?

She appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter that night and she was interviewed on various daytime talk shows in the days that followed, once appearing on CNN.

There were a lot of reasons she gave for why she decided to run.

She felt the need to defend the 800-meter national title which she won each of the last four years and five of them overall.

There was also the added bonus of sending an empowering message to women.

But those things were simply by-products to the real reason she kept running while bearing a child

This was all about fulfilling a need and quenching an insatiable thirst for competition.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be competing (to win),” Montaño said with a laugh. “It was just setting myself up in a competitive environment to kind of satiate that emotion, that feeling and knowing that it was good to have that kind of desire and knowing that I want to come back. I needed that in my back pocket.”

Alysia and her husband Louie announced the birth of their baby girl, Linnea Dori Montaño, on Friday.

You can bet it won’t be long before Alysia will be back into her full training regimen.

An athlete like her can’t stay away from it for long.

Dr. Ashley Samson, an assistant professor in kinesiology and a sports psychology consultant at Cal State Northridge, said there is such thing as being hooked on athletic activity.

When someone works out vigorously on a regular basis, their body releases natural chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, which can cause calming and positive effects.

It’s the type of feeling athletes will often try to replicate.

“Once you get your body into it and you get warmed up, your body gets used to releasing those endorphins,” Samson said.

She said this is at least part of the process that explains the commonly used term, “runner’s high.”

“You’re working hard, but your body doesn’t really know how hard you’re working,” Samson explained.

Part of runner’s high is psychological as well. It’s a feeling that presents itself only under ideal conditions, and not necessarily during every workout.

“I would definitely equate it maybe to someone that needs their fix,” Alysia said of her love for running. “And I think what an amazing fix to have to need, something that keeps benefitting me not only outside my pregnancy but through my pregnancy.”

In fact, comparing it to needing a fix isn’t far from the scientific truth.

Alysia came into her now-world-famous pregnant race as winner of the last four 800-meter national title, with five of them overall.

Her winning times in those races were all below the 2-minute mark.

As a pregnant woman, Alysia finished in 2 minutes, 32.13 seconds, which is still considerably faster than your average Joe.

But this year wasn’t about breaking any personal records or winning. Alysia never thought twice about continuing to run while pregnant, though she knew it would have to be a scaled down version of her usual training routine.

Her doctor strongly urged that she continue to work out while pregnant, not that she needed to be convinced.

In fact, she said her doctor told her it could be unhealthy for someone as active as her to completely stay off her feet.

“It definitely would have put me in a deficit emotionally to not continue my health and to not continue what I love doing,” Alysia said.

A week after her race at the U.S. finals, she posted a detailed account of her workout routine in the months leading up the race.

Her “scaled back” schedule was still five to six days a week with sprints, weights and jogging involved.

She said she was only working out as hard as her pregnant body would allow her. Alysia didn’t decide she would enter the U.S. finals until four weeks beforehand.

By race day, she was 34 weeks pregnant.

Her Twitter account exploded the day her race went viral. Nearly all of the comments were positive, Alysia said, with the occasional critic questioning whether or not it was healthy for her and her baby.

Alysia was quick to respond that her doctor approved the decision to run.

And knowing how much competition is a part of her life, it might have been unhealthy for her not to race that day.


Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...