Many moms know that breastfeeding on its own can feel like a major calorie-burning workout, but for British ultra runner Sophie Powers, breastfeeding is definitely not her only form of exercise.
Instead, Powers is an ultra-long-distance runner—and, despite having a 3-month-old son, the new mom has continued to run. Let's be clear: She's not just running a local fun 5K or your average, everyday marathon. Nope. Instead, Powers is running ultra marathons of more than 100 miles. Yes, you read that right, more than 100 miles at one time. And she's doing it all while breastfeeding.
Runner's World UK profiled Powers and published a powerful image of the mom of two nursing her youngest son, Cormac, with one arm and pumping her breast milk with the other. The photo was captured by photographer Alexis Berg while Powers was competing in the UTMB trail race in the French Alps, known as one of the world's toughest races. The magazine noted that the image of a mother breastfeeding was something "rarely seen" at these types of ultra-endurance events.
So, how was Powers able to pull off running 166 km—or 103 miles—while also being solely responsible for another human being's nutritional needs? Well, like a lot of moms who pursue their dreams, she had help. Her husband and son accompanied her to the race, where her husband met her at every aid station along the route, breast pump in hand, so he could wait while she pumped, then take the milk back to their baby.
Powers' husband met her at every aid station along the route, breast pump in hand, so he could wait while she pumped.
The dedicated mother did run into a slight snafu, however, when one stop took her 16 hours to reach. With a 3-month-old who normally nurses every three hours, Powers told Runner's World that by the time she reached the station, she was in some pretty serious pain, despite having actually tried to hand-express while running. Luckily, at that station, her husband had also brought her son, so she (and he!) got some much-needed relief.
"Oh my god, I was in agony! Cormac usually feeds every three hours, and it took me 16 to get to Courmayeur, where he could first meet me so I was hand-expressing everywhere I could en route. I was so relieved he was hungry!" she told the magazine. (Cue the wincing of every nursing mother who has ever felt the pain of engorged breasts.)
While running and breastfeeding certainly burned a lot of calories, the dedicated athlete, however, probably won't be using those calories as an excuse to indulge, just as she didn't use pregnancy as an "excuse" to stop exercising.
"During pregnancy, it felt like all the advice was to put your feet up and get fat, as anything else was taking a risk," she told Runner's World. "This is not the best way to prepare for motherhood—staying fit, healthy and strong is so important, and how you can safely do that needs to be talked about more."
On her Twitter feed, Powers noted that trail running is very similar to hiking and that it poses no risk for moms during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The mom of two shared snippets of her family and her training schedule, which included cardio and strength training, and tricep dips at eight months. Her tweets discuss the importance of encouraging fitness for all mothers, as well as her motivation for working out in the first place—her kids.
"If a candid photo that gives confidence to women is my favorite race photo—this is probably my second," she wrote next to a photo of her at the finish line with her two sons. "[Twenty] minutes sleep over [two] nights driven on by the look I knew would be on [my son] Donnacha's face running to the finish with me."
Image courtesy of photographer Alexis Berg