Just three days before she was set to give birth to her second child, I had the opportunity to chat with Makenna Myler, a pro runner for Asics and record holder of the fastest pregnant mile.
It was kind of ironic because I hadn’t known that she, for a second time, ran the fastest mile pregnant when I set up the interview. Makenna ran the fastest pregnant mile two years prior with her first child, running a 5:25 mile. I mentioned I was chatting with her for the podcast I host, The Passionate Runner (set to air in late spring), and my husband asked if I had seen a new record was just set.
Why I wanted to chat with Makenna
I had asked to interview Makenna after seeing her work in trying to educate female runners in proper training and debunk common myths related to female runners like we should avoid carbs, intermittent fast, or just toughen up when our menstrual cycles make us feel terrible.
Makenna’s decision to run a mile as fast as she can while pregnant has been a lightning rod topic of sorts. People have called her selfish, careless, and even stupid. But these people are most likely viewing her fast pregnant miles through the lens of someone who is NOT a well-trained athlete like her.
Indeed, McKenna has run a 4:37 mile (in jeans, nonetheless—I will get to why).
She’s also felt backlash from fellow pregnant women who said her fast mile while pregnant made them feel bad about themselves. This was the opposite of her intention.
In this article, I explore:
- Can we run while pregnant?
- Who is Makenna Myler?
- Why did Makenna Myler run a fast pregnant mile?
- Was Makenna Myler’s fast pregnant mile unsafe?
- Makenna’s reaction to the feedback she got from her fast mile while pregnant,
- And her plans for the future
So, let’s go.
Who’s Makenna Myler?
Makenna Myler is a pro runner for Asics who holds the unofficial record for running the world’s fastest pregnant mile—two times.
Makenna ran a mile in 5:25—just 10 days before she gave birth to her daughter in October of 2020. Her husband, Mike, posted the video on TikTok and it went viral, getting more than 6 million views and grabbing the attention of national news networks like Good Morning America and ESPN.
Again, in February of 2023, weeks before giving birth to second child, Makenna ran another fast mile while pregnant—besting her time by 8 seconds with a 5:17.
After having her first child, Makenna started entering races to qualify for the Olympic Trials. She achieved her goal. At the end of May, Makenna qualified with a time of 32:03.62 in the 10k. Her time was close to 3 minutes faster than her best collegiate time!
Makenna ran the trials six months after having her daughter, Lou, placing 14th out of 44 runners. She coveted a professional running contract with Asics after the race.
In Makenna’s pro running debut, she ran the Deseret News half marathon in 1:09.54, setting the new course record.
Makenna competed in track and field for Brigham Young University from 2011 to 2014.
Is it safe to run a mile while pregnant?
Yes, you can run a mile while pregnant. You can run many miles while pregnant. Indeed, I have coached many women who have run marathons, some qualifying for the Boston Marathon, while pregnant.
Generally speaking, unless there are risks or complications, pregnant women can continue running as long as they ran prior to becoming pregnant. It is not recommended to start running while pregnant, though it’s not impossible.
Read my complete guide for pregnant runner’s here which includes training adaptations for your changing body.
What is the fastest mile for a pregnant woman?
Makenna Myler holds the unofficial record for running the fastest mile while pregnant. She ran a mile in 5:17, just weeks before giving birth to her second child.
Makenna is a pro runner who continued to train at a high level while pregnant. While a 5:17 is fast (it is just one second off my fastest mile!), for Makenna’s it’s not close to her fastest. A 5:17 pace is close to her half marathon pace (1:09 half marathon) and about 40 seconds slower than her mile PR time of 4:37.
When did Makenna Myler run the fastest mile while pregnant?
Makenna Myler ran a 5:25 mile on October 12, 2020 9 months pregnant.
Makenna bested her pregnant mile PR by 8 seconds, running a 5:17 mile on February 21, 2023, about three weeks before her due date of her second child.
Why did Makenna Myler run a mile as fast as she can while nine months pregnant?
Makenna Myler ran a mile as fast as she can while pregnant as part of a bet.
“Mike (my husband) watched me move from 6:30 mile pace to 8:30 in the first trimester, so when I said I could probably run an 8-min mile by the 9th month, he bet me $100 I couldn’t,” she shared.
Ten days before she gave birth, Makenna headed to the track, ran a 5:25, and became a hundred bucks richer.
For her second pregnancy, Makenna had more intention behind her fast pregnant mile. She wanted to test her fitness and having her first pregnant mile on the books offered a great measuring stick.
In addition to testing her fitness, Makenna’s pregnant mile serves to challenge outdated misconceptions that pregnant women are delicate or “sick.” It also serves to inspire other females, including her daughter, and show them what we are capable of when they step outside their comfort zone.
Racing a mile has become a tradition for Makenna, who decided on her wedding day when her last name would change to “Myler”, to run a mile as fast as she could. She, joined by her friends and family, laced up their shoes and ran 1,600 meters.
“I was the only one who took it seriously,” said the soon-to-be Myler, running a 4:42.
Makenna later ran her mile PR of 4:37 in jeans last spring as part of an Asics campaign to bring awareness for mental health. She holds the record for the fastest jean mile.
Her fastest pregnant mile and fastest jean mile records were surprises to her.
Was Makenna Myler being unsafe running a sub-6 minute mile while pregnant?
No, Makenna Myler was not being unsafe running a sub-6 minute mile while pregnant.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women exercise for at least 30 minutes most days of the week. Unless you have risks or complications, pregnant women can continue running if they ran before conception.
Seeing as Makenna’s body is used to running at a high-level and a 5:17 mile is much slower than what she can run not pregnant, the risk of over-exertion was low.
“According to the doctors I was working with, the ‘risk’ was about as high as walking down a flight of stairs because of my physical health and relatively high fitness level,” she explains.
Makenna said her low back and quads did start to hurt during her effort but that is not harmful to the baby—which was kicking before and after then fast 1600 meters.
Makenna credits the “central governor” for keeping her from pushing too hard. The central governor is a theory that the brain regulates physical activity from reaching an intensity that can threaten the body’s homeostasis.
“(It’s) smart enough to never allow the baby any danger. It feels weird trying to go all out, and still having about 10 to 15 percent in the tank at the end, knowing there was just no way for you to spend it. Our bodies are incredible,” she says.
What did Makenna think of the backlash she got for running a mile as fast she could while pregnant?
Makenna didn’t see a lot of the negative comments on the video of her first pregnant mile since it was posted to her husband Mike’s TikTok account. But when she heard about it, she was shocked.
“There are a lot of people who think I’m an idiot. But then I just had to laugh,” she said, noting that a lot of the comments were ridiculous.
Knowing she has a beautiful, healthy baby girl, she felt comfortable challenging herself—and outdated beliefs about what pregnant women can do—again with another fast mile.
This time, in her Instagram post, she addressed, not the uninformed negative comments, but the ones from fellow pregnant women saying her accomplishment left them feeling “lazy and worthless.”
“This is not a game of comparison, and a healthy, happy pregnancy should be your ONLY goal,” she writes.
What was Makenna Myler’s mission for running a fast pregnant mile?
Makenna ran her first pregnant mile to win a bet against her husband. She ran her second pregnant mile to test her fitness.
Makenna says, “I didn’t run this mile to get likes (never even knew Mike was going to post it anywhere). I did it to test whether my assumption that what the larger world understood to be true about pregnancy could be challenged. Glad I did it, and my healthy baby daughter will some day know she’s capable of more than the world presumes about her.”
Who is Makenna Myler’s coach?
Makenna Myler’s running coach is Ryan Hall, the American record holder for the half marathon in a time of 59:43 and a 2:04:58 marathoner. Hall is also the husband of pro runner (and mother) Sara Hall. His run coaching business is called RunFree training.
Makenna hired Ryan when she became pregnant to stay in shape. She said had she not hired Ryan, she may have lost motivation to stay sharp while pregnant.
Related: How to Start Running Postpartum
What’s next for Makenna?
After delivering a healthy baby and taking her time off, Makenna will continue to run for Asics and plans to see how good she can be “with the things I can control.”
This may include being at the Olympic Trials for the 5k, 10, and marathon.
Makenna also plans to continue to educate fellow female runners on how to train with their body including how optimize training according to our menstrual cycles, run while pregnant, and fuel for proper performance while using herself “as a guinea pig.”
If you want guidance with your run training including while pregnant or postpartum, check out my run coaching services. Also, be sure to check out my free training plans:
- Postpartum Training Plan
- After a Break Training Plan
- 5k Training Plans
- 10k Training Plans
- Half Marathon Training Plans
- Marathon Training Plans
- Strength Training Plan