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Interview with High Performance Runner Andrea Hunter: from Six World Major Marathons to Motherhood

I have heard about Andrea since I started running and I had followed part of her athletic career. I had seen her publishing her book, and sharing her passion for sports and nutrition with other people. I did not know the whole story behind this that she is about to share with us!

One day I saw a picture of her running pregnant, and of course, I had to reach out. I though it was an incredible sudden change, and I had to inquire WHY, HOW, WHAT DID IT TAKE to move away from high performance sports to motherhood in such a short period of time.

I wanted Andrea to be able to share her story with all those females and female athletes who fare change and moving away from their comfort zone. The female body is an incredible machine when we treat her well!

Majo: Tell us a little bit about your athletic background!

Andrea: Once I moved to Raleigh NC for work, I realized that there was a huge running community. I’ve always loved to be active. I had run for fun before so I knew I liked it. I wanted to join a community to meet new people in this new city. Once I joined this community, I loved it! I started running races and performing well… I learned what BQ meant and what the “6 major marathons” were. I loved the challenge and the personal gratification of improving in each race.

Majo: How many races have you done since you started training and which where your TOP PERFORMANCES?

Andrea: I’ve done ten marathons and too many half marathons, 5k, and 10k to count!

  • My PR in the marathon is 2:47

  • My PR in the half is 1:23

  • My PR in the 5k is 17:45

  • My PR in the 10k is 37:55

Majo: How was your training structure, volume and intensity?

Andrea: When I was training for a marathon my weekly mileage was around 120. Running 2-a-days 6 days a week and only 1-a-day 1 day a week.

Majo: Did you work with a team? Who was part of your coaching team?

Andrea: Yes. I was working with a coach from my country Colombia. Everything was over training peaks and whatsapp. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a very structured team. My coach guided me on the running workouts and the strength training each week but I was not working with a dietitian or a PT at the time. Since I was a healthy (at the time) I didn’t think I needed dietary advice or I wasn’t ready for someone to tell me what to change because I thought that what I was doing was working.

Majo: How was your nutrition and body composition at that time?

Andrea: I was extremely lean and underweight. I was also very bloated and had a lot of digestive issues. I didn’t coordinate those issues with my training and lack of nutrition, but now looking back, my body was trying to tell me something for a long time. It wasn’t until I started getting injured out of nowhere that I knew something was wrong. I started getting stress fractures very often and I know I was in dangerous territory.

Majo: When you decided to have kids, what happened?

Andrea: Our plan was to start a family once I finished my six majors (last one was in Tokyo, March 2023). I was able to complete it, even though the month before I was in crutches nursing a Calcanus stress fracture.

I had an IUD for a long time so it gave me a safety net for me to lie to myself that that was the reason why I didn’t get a period but I knew deep down that something was very wrong with my hormones and my body.

Once I took it out, we waited 3 months and: no period. I even took Provera with no luck. My OBGYN told me that I needed to go to a fertility clinic. But I wanted to look into this and figure out why I didn’t get a period.  I wanted my body to be ready for motherhood naturally and I knew I had to make radical changes.

Majo: What steps did you take to solve the issue?

Andrea: The first and most important step was to make the decision to make changes. I knew that my relationship with food and training was not healthy. I knew that the routine I loved to follow had to drastically change (or even more scary: stop) for the time I needed for my body to recover and heal up. I was ready and determined to do something. My biggest motivation was to get pregnant but it was also for my longevity, my health, and my happiness. I wanted to not only regain my cycle but I also wanted to regain bone health, heart health, and hormonal health.

Once my brain wanted to do this: I was ready! I started to read and research. I read “No Period, Now What?” And it told me all I needed to know:

I had Hypotelemic Amenorrhea (HA). It was reversible but I needed to stop ALL types of exercises, eat AT LEAST 2500 cal a day and give up all “healthy dieting” I needed to include all the fats, the carbs, the dairy, etc…

I knew I needed accountability. I couldn’t do it alone because I would have cheated the system. So, I decided to work with a fertility dietitian who specializes in HA. I was part of 12 girls who also wanted to regain their period. We had weekly calls and weekly food logs. I wasn’t alone and that helped me so much because this was one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced.

Majo: Can you tell us a little bit about the process since day 1 until you found that you were pregnant

Andrea: Since I joined the group over the summer, 2023 every day was difficult. It eventually got easier but there was a lot of uncertainty, tears, and a constant state of fullness.

  • Usually, over the summer I go to Colorado with my family. I usually use this time to train at altitude. However, this summer was completely different. While everyone was out there hiking, moving, enjoying the outdoors I was mostly at home stuffing my face with food. I didn’t know if this would work. I was just trusting that it did.

  • As the days went by I noticed that all my clothes didn’t fit anymore, I started seeing things I’ve never saw on my body. I had no idea that fat could store where it did. I felt so uncomfortable, lazy, and mentally exhausted. The external comments didn’t help either: “Wow, I didn’t recognize you” “what are you doing? Why are you gaining weight willingly?” …

  • The unknown was scary. I didn’t know until when I had to keep this routine and I didn’t know if I would ever stop gaining weight. It was frustrating to see how in 3 months, 10 years of hard work for your fitness really fade away.

  • But I was determined to keep going. I knew that the light at the end of the tunnel was closer with each passing day. I journaled a lot. I chose my support system wisely. I did sound healing. I read. I listed to podcast. I prayed. And I manifested my baby, my period, my health.

  • I started this whole process in April since I took out my IUD. But when I truly started making chances was at the end of June. It was September 6 (my husband’s birthday) when I went to pee and I saw it!!! I GOT MY PERIOD. I cried of happiness. I couldn’t believe it.

  • We tried to conceive that month but in October I got my period again (I was still very happy because it meant I had a regular cycle!).

  • I used OPKs (ovulation prediction kit) that October to track my ovulation. I learned everything about our fertile window, and we tried that month. After 9 DPO (days past ovulation) I did a pregnancy test because that’s how long it will take for HCG to be detected on the pregnancy test and I SAW MY BIG FAT POSITIVE! We were EXPECTING!

  • Now that I’m pregnant, I can be active (to some extent), I can enjoy food, and so thankful for my beautiful body for everything we’ve been through together.

Majo: How did your nutrition and body composition perspectives change in this process?

Andrea: I can honestly tell you I am SO THANKFUL for everything I went through. I am thankful for my long, demanding training sessions, I am thankful I lost my period, I am thankful I had to reverse my osteoporosis, I am thankful I had to gain weight, I am thankful I had the determination and patience to keep at it. The lessons I learned from this are incredible valuable. I now have a beautiful relationship with food and exercise. I enjoy all types of desserts, I have no restrictions, I now can eat a cheesy pizza or a sandwich with my husband.

Most importantly I now know that we, as women need more fat, more carbs, and more calories that we think we need. Women are not supposed to eat less than men. More so if you are an athlete: your body requires SO MANY more calories than you think. The body is a machine. Even when you are not moving, it needs energy to function; when you are moving you need ALL the food. Otherwise, the body turns off optional systems (aka reproductive) in order to conserve energy for those systems that are vital. And when the body does find energy availability, it starts taking it from your muscles, bones, and anything it can hold on to.

Most importantly, my perspective about the woman body completely changed. Before this experience I dreaded my period, I considered myself lucky to not have one. Now I know that it is a vital sign. Now I respect all women. We are incredible and we are powerful. Because of my new outlook on life, food, exercise, and health I feel more equipped to raise a strong, healthy, independent girl who feels proud to be a woman, loves her body, is comfortable in her own skin, and maybe in the future experience the beautiful miracle of a pregnancy. I can’t wait to be a girl mom!

Majo: Is there a message you would like to leave for all those female athletes having issues with conception, menstrual irregularities or perception of body image?

Andrea: Yes!

  • Listen to that voice that it’s telling you something. You know if you are training too hard, you know if you are eating too little, you know if you need a rest day today even though your plan says “10 miles easy” But if you are not mentally ready to make changes, no body can make them for you.

  • An easy run is not a rest day.

  • Hormones are very delicate. You need to take care of them. Sometimes we want to train like men but we simply can’t. Our bodies are more complex, more beautiful, and they need more care than men bodies do. You need to eat breakfast before any physical activity. You can’t do intermediate fasting. You ACTUALLY need carbs to ovulate. There are no bad foods.

  • More that 70% of women have some sort of unhealthy relationship with food. What are we going to do about it? How are you talking to your kids about food and exercise? Do you feel like you have to “earn” your food? Do you eat less on days you didn’t workout? Do you feel guilty if you do t workout? Ask yourself these questions and have the uncomfortable conversation with yourself. As women we need to be better. We need to value ourselves more.

  • Remember than having a period is A GOOD THING! It’s not only to get pregnant or to avoid pregnancy. It’s for your overall health. If you get a period this means that you body is HAPPY and it’s working well internally. Your bones are healthy, your heart is healthy, your hormones are balanced.

  • Remember that we are all here for a little bit. Enjoy your life, your people, and don’t base your happiness on a race or a workout.

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Feb 06

Thank you Majo for taking the time to interview me. I hope this message reaches many women and that together we can change the narrative of how beautiful our bodies are and how powerful we are.

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