Training for a Marathon While Breastfeeding: 4 Things You Need to Know


In 2022 I ran my first marathon. I also exclusively nursed my third child that year. I started marathon training at six months postpartum. Breastfeeding while training for a marathon was extremely humbling but incredibly empowering.

You have to respect the mileage and protect your supply.

You must understand the toll it will take on your body and mind. It will take coordination, discipline, and most of all, grace. Training for 26.2 miles while breastfeeding is not an easy task but it is possible if you are prepared for it.

Here are 4 things you need to know if you want to train for a marathon while breastfeeding.

1. It will be very time-consuming.

Before my marathon, I had finished a few half marathons, some 10ks, and dozens of 5ks. So, I was no stranger to long-running sessions. But a full marathon training program required a lot more miles per week than I was used to.

A 26.2 mile run will take you an average of about 5 hours to complete. Maybe not at first, but towards the end of your training, you can expect your long runs to take 3-4 hours to complete.

As the matriarch, your absence is going to affect everyone’s schedule. As the only food source for a tiny human, you will to have to have patience and drive.

Remember that it is not selfish to plan around your passions!

This leads me to the next thing you should know.

2. You will need to schedule runs right after feedings or consider pumping.

I like to run first thing in the morning. It was one of the things that made me love running as a mom. When I fit in my runs before the sun even rises, it maximizes the amount of time we have together as a family.

However, the morning is not the only time you can run. Study your baby’s feeding schedule and pick a time that will allow you to be absent for an hour or two . . . or four.

There will be days during your marathon training when you will have to be flexible and run when you have absolutely no desire to run because it fits your baby’s needs. One these days, try and replace “I have to” with “I get to.”

In case you don’t already know, running with breasts full of milk is probably one of the most uncomfortable things you can do. If you haven’t already, consider incorporating pumping to help during changing schedules and sleep regressions.

If your baby won’t take a bottle, incorporate a feeding break when needed. Have your spouse meet you at a park or plan your route so that you can circle back to your house for a quick snack sesh. Taking a break is better than cutting your miles out completely!

3. Find some great sports bras.

Have you ever wrestled with your sweaty sports bra while trying to take it off? Feeding your baby in the wrong type of sports bra is equally as awkward. I quickly found that my old sports bras were not up for the task of marathon training. Your chest will be bigger and heavier, so look for high-impact bras.

A sports bra with a front zipper is a game-changer for nursing moms and will make things so much easier. Just be mindful of where the zipper is and use Vaseline to protect the area from chafing. Never wear a new bra for the first time on a long run or race day. Test run any new item, including bras, on your short runs or speed work days.

4. You will need to fuel on your long runs.

The average woman burns 100 calories per mile while running. A breastfeeding mama will also burn about an extra 500 calories a day while nursing. This will leave you at a huge caloric deficit if you don’t fuel your body correctly while marathon training. You will additionally need to make sure you hydrate like crazy to protect that liquid gold.

During your run:

Pack fuel in your running belt for any run over an hour to increase energy and maintain your supply.

Half of a banana, bars, or honey sticks are great snacks. There is also a variety of running gels made to fuel your runs. Just make sure the ingredients are all safe for the baby.

Invest in a handheld water bottle or water vest. Fill it with electrolytes or liquid carbs. Tailwind is my favorite powdered supplement!

After your run:

You will also need to add some nutritionally dense calories to your daily meals to balance out all the work you did.

Keep hydrating throughout the day. Unsweetened coconut water is a healthier alternative to sugary sports drinks.

Crossing that finish line.

No, I didn’t come in first. I wasn’t even close to being in the top half of my age category. Nevertheless, finishing that marathon has been one of my top accomplishments. Being able to perform at that level while nursing my child was a privilege and a challenge I am glad I accepted.

» » » » »  RELATED READ: The Story of How I Did Not Run the El Paso Half Marathon  « « « « « «

It is super important to note that you should monitor your supply and adjust if needed. Your  mental and physical health should also always come first. Waiting another year to train might be best in some situations. The road and your medal will be waiting for you when you’re ready!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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