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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 July 2006, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Pregnant pause

By Liz McColgan
Former 10,000m world champion & London Marathon winner

Liz McColgan wins the London Marathon in 1996
McColgan won the London, Tokyo and New York marathons

I've known Paula Radcliffe's been wanting a child for quite a while and it's probably a really, really good thing for her to do.

It will help her stay focused in the long run and now she's got more chance of running in Beijing in 2008. But most of all, it will make her happier.

It would have been really hard for her to stay focused without a break, but six months out will be a mental relief.

Once she's had her baby, Paula will be more determined and have renewed her energy and be really up for it again, and so many have had babies and come back and done well.

It's really hard to pick yourself up after each challenge when you've been competing for so long and that's why it's one of the better decisions she's made. In fact, I thought she should have done it after Athens.

As an elite athlete it didn't take me long to get back into shape

Liz McColgan

Taking a break from the pressure and expectation of athletics and the intensity of training is a great tonic.

Before I had my first child, I was getting a bit flat and finding it hard to get motivated. But after I had her, I was eager to get back and prove I was the best in the world.

Some people think that because you have a baby you become softer, but it's not like that. I didn't have nannies or anything like that, the baby just came with us when myself and Peter (a former Northern Irish distance runner) were competing.

And the training was totally separate from family life and that was a good thing because my children provided relaxation after training - I could just chill out with them. When you have no children, all your life about is running.

Paula Radcliffe
Radcliffe has been competing at the top level for more than 10 years

As for the practicalities while pregnant, I carried on running right up until the day I gave birth. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I just slipped into steady running, five to seven miles a day, which is like walking to most people.

Paula will have plenty of advice, but with my first daughter, it was a case of trial and error. I just relied on my body to tell me how fast and how far to go.

You obviously put on weight, but I was lucky in that I got straight back into proper training pretty much straightaway. Everything got back to normal without any trouble.

As an elite athlete it didn't take me long to get back into shape. I had my first 5km race six weeks after giving birth to my first child and won bronze at the World Cross Country Championships eight weeks later.

Like me, Paula should come back with renewed focus and be very competitive in the mind because she will have missed it.

Scotland's Liz McColgan won 10,000m gold at the 1991 World Championships, silver at the 1988 Olympics, two Commonwealth golds and the London Marathon in 1996.

She won bronze at the 1991 World Cross Country Championships just four months after giving birth to her first child, of which she now has five.

Pregnant Radcliffe to miss Euros
11 Jul 06 |  Athletics
Radcliffe targeting July return
24 May 06 |  Athletics
McColgan ends Scots exile
13 Feb 04 |  Athletics


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