Amanda Basham’s Post-Partum Training for Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc

A new mother of two combats the pressure of bouncing back from postpartum training

Photo: Mike McMonagle

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Amanda Basham is a professional runner, trail ultra athlete, endurance coach in Boulder, Colorado, and—as of recently—a mother of two. Basham’s accomplishments are many: she placed first in the 2022 Speedgoat 11K, the 2019 Tushars Marathon, and the 2019 Sciacche Trail 50K, among other strong finishes.

She met her husband, also a runner, Justin Grunewald, at the 2020 Bandera 100K. The newest, baby Maeve, was born just 16 months ago.

As the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc (UTMB) approaches— the most prestigious trail running race in the world taking place August 28-September 3—Basham reflects on how training for 2023’s 100 mile race has been so much different after giving birth to Maeve.

While pregnant, Basham didn’t have UTMB at the top of her mind.

“I thought a lot about getting back into running during my first pregnancy,” she says. “But the second time, I just wanted to go with the flow and not have any kind of plan for racing after.”

Basham continued to run during both of her pregnancies, but the second time around felt less stressful because she wasn’t worried about sticking to a particular set plan. She ran when she felt like it, and took it day-by-day without a strict schedule. And after giving birth to Maeve in April, she got back into regime—slowly.

“Postpartum running is crazy,” Basham says. “It feels so good and so weird at the same time. It was so enjoyable initially, and I think that’s because it felt like I could do it and not worry about anything. There’s no pressure to run fast, long, or anything at first.”

Physically, though, postpartum running was painful at times for Basham. She experienced pelvic pain, sacrum pain, and GI issues. This is fairly common, with one study citing that 80 percent of women running after childbirth reported pain. Basham felt that once she got past the postpartum pain, it was easy to get back her baseline fitness level.

Basham’s sister, Alisha Basham, says, “Postpartum running can be super difficult, but what i’ve noticed from Amanda is consistency. It can be very challenging to balance family and training, and I can’t imagine training to compete at the level she’s doing.”

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But the competitive running times she had conquered before felt far away.

“A lot of it has to do with the chaos of having a toddler and a newborn at the same time without childcare,” Basham says. “I was also a solo parent while my partner, Justin, worked in another state. It was a lot of sleep deprivation for a long time.”

“Watching Amanda train postpartum (twice) has been really inspiring,” says Grunewald. “Seeing her listen to her body; knowing when to push and when to chill. Plus, Amanda solo parents a week a month while I work three states away. All these added stressors, if managed, make her more resilient and adaptable on race day.”

He adds that while the lack of sleep and small recovery window isn’t ideal for any athlete, but that if something goes wrong out on the race course, he’s confident Basham won’t let it phase her, as that’s her day-to-day life.

Over eight months postpartum, Basham ran the Bandera 100K Golden Ticket race to try and qualify into the 2023 Western States 100 event. She placed fourth, and only the top two qualify for golden tickets. Determined to qualify, five weeks later Basham entered into the Tarawera 100K, in New Zealand, but experienced intense sacral pain during the race, slowed, and failed to solidify a top spot.

“After that, I was spent,” she says. “I had put so much energy that I didn’t really have into it and I just needed a break. My body and mind felt like they were falling apart.”

Though there was still one more Western States qualifier race,– the Canyons 100K,–Basham decided not to compete. Instead, she crewed the race for Grunewald, who placed third overall. She was initially bummed about not qualifying for Western, but tried not to ruminate on it too much.

“I did everything I could to try to get in, which is pretty hard to manage postpartum with an infant and toddler,” she says. “I had no desire to keep attempting Western and was very stoked to focus on UTMB.”

Amanda Basham running while pregnant
(Photo: Courtesy of Amanda Basham)

A UTMB Comeback

In April 2022, one year postpartum, most of Basham’s body pains were gone, which has made her training more tolerable. She takes one day off a week, and the other days Basham is hitting trail runs at 7,600 feet elevation in the mountains of Boulder, Colorado

For UTMB training, she focused on weekly speed workouts, a weekly few long runs, and some easy days. She used to complete more high-intensity speed runs, but says her body hasn’t been able to handle it lately.

“How I have trained since having kids is usually not ideal, but I just do what I can now,” Basham says. “It’s getting better as time goes on but I do think the last few years of chaos and unstructured days have made me better prepared mentally for a race like UTMB.”

Grunewald is excited to be part of Basham’s 100-miler.

“I got to see her resiliency and toughness firsthand at Bandera 100k earlier this year, but to see her do it on the largest stage really excites me,” he says. “We shared hundreds of miles in the build-ups to our races. So I’m excited to see her put all those enjoyable miles to use on her own circumnavigating Mont Blanc.”

Basham has mixed feelings about UTMB, feeling both excited and extremely nervous.

“I’ve definitely trained the best I’ve been able to since having kids,” she says. “Mainly, I’m just trying to tell myself that all I can do is my best and the performance will play out how it does.”

Alisha, who has joined Basham on a few trail runs during her UTMB training, is confident in her sister is going to perform to the best of her abilities.

“I think she’s done all she could to prepare,” Alisha says. “I’m super proud of her and can’t wait to cheer for her this weekend.”

Basham admits that she doesn’t know how to define her “best”’ right now in terms of time or place.

“I haven’t done this in a long time and I’ve had two kids since,” she says. “So, my goal is to start the race as rested as possible and do the best I can. I really want to be present and not have any pity parties. I think if I just do those things, that I will perform my best, whatever that means right now.”

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