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Becoming a mother is a transformative experience, but for elite athletes like Amanda Basham, it also presents unique challenges when it comes to pursuing their dreams. I was honored to sit down with Amanda to hear her story of returning to competitive sports after having children and the profound lessons she’s learned along the way.

Amanda is a professional trail runner and endurance coach with an inspiring path in the world of ultra running. We explore the profound changes in training, racing, and life schedules that come with becoming a mother, and Amanda shares her experiences returning to racing postpartum. From battling self-doubt to navigating the lack of support for postpartum athletes, Amanda sheds light on the often-overlooked struggles faced by mothers in athletics.

Together, we discuss strategies for managing disappointment, expectations, and the mental toughness required to persevere as both athletes and mothers. Plus, the complexities of co-parenting while pursuing elite sports, highlighting the importance of flexibility, communication, and self-care.

Finding the Trail

After discovering trail running in 2014 following an injury from road marathons, she quickly rose to the elite level, winning the 50-mile USATF Trail Championships in her very first race as a professional. Since then, Amanda has competed in some of the most prestigious trail races around the world, including Western States 100, UTMB, CCC, Tarawera, and Ultra Trail Capetown.

But Amanda’s journey extends beyond the trails. She’s also a dedicated mother, finding a way to balance training and racing while raising two daughters alongside her partner, Justin Grunewald, whom she met during a race. For Amanda, co-parenting and solo parenting while pursuing elite sports demanded flexibility, communication, and strategic planning. Balancing race attendance with rest and family time became a delicate juggling act, requiring constant negotiation and compromise. Through trial and error, Amanda discovered effective strategies for maintaining harmony between her roles as an athlete and a mother.

Elite Athlete and Mother

Returning to competitive sports after childbirth is no easy feat. Amanda shares candidly about the immense challenge she faced both physically and mentally. The slow recovery process, coupled with periods of self-doubt, made it a daunting journey. However, through perseverance and resilience, she found ways to overcome these obstacles and emerge stronger than ever.

One glaring issue that Amanda encountered was the lack of support for postpartum athletes, both from sponsors/races and in general. This glaring gap in resources and understanding underscores the need for improvement in accommodating the realities of balancing motherhood and athletics. Amanda hopes to spark conversations and drive change within the sporting community.

Sharing Stories of Success

Navigating the mental aspect of competing as a mother requires a unique set of strategies. Amanda shares how leading with gratitude, focusing on the temporary nature of difficulties, and refusing to give up in hard moments helped her maintain her mental resilience.

Ultimately, Amanda’s story serves as a beacon of inspiration for all mothers striving to balance their athletic dreams with the demands of parenthood. By sharing our authentic experiences, we hope to change perceptions and garner greater support for mothers in sports.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Returning to sports after having kids is very challenging both physically and mentally.
  • There is a lack of support for postpartum athletes from sponsors, races, and in general.
  • Having a positive mindset and not giving up can help overcome mental hurdles.
  • Flexibility and communication are needed to balance parenting and competing.
  • Sharing real stories of challenge and success can inspire and support other mothers.

Listen to Amanda’s episode

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Transcript: Amanda Bashem

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