Sure, they may spend their days running and weight training for hours, consuming thousands of nutritious calories, and sprint 5:30 minute miles for an entire marathon, but many Olympic runners are also moms, and end up with the same post-baby bellies as the average person.
That's what Olympic hopeful Steph Rothstein Bruce is showing in her relatable Instagram posts as she documents her training.
After giving birth to two babies within 15 months of each other, Bruce's stomach is covered in stretch marks that she says, "are here to stay!" And instead of hiding them, she proudly posts pictures of her post-baby belly to show that even professional athletes have to work for their fitness postpartum.
"#keepinitreal doing side planks. The strength and stability is coming back steadily but the appearance of abs and stretch marks remains the same. The not so glamorous part of getting strong post baby," Bruce captions one photo of her stomach.
She also has diastasis recti, which means her abs have separated during pregnancy, and even months postpartum she can stick her fingers deep into her stomach.
"#7weekspostpartum I can stick 3 fingers in between my 2 ab walls," Bruce writes in another post. "But it's not about ascetics it's about functionality. Here you go for those who have been curious and asked about my Diastasis Recti: 'My abs are separated contemplating divorce.' "
#7weekspostpartum I can stick 3 fingers in between my 2 ab walls. But it's not about ascetics it's about functionality. Here you go for those who have been curious and asked about my Diastasis Recti: "My abs are separated contemplating divorce" blog up on my website. Link in profile. #journeywithsteph
To rebuild her ab strength, Bruce is diligent about doing core work to improve her running. And while training after having two kids is tough, she's proud of her hard work.
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"I wanted to savor this moment in the finishing stretch, freeze time and look back over the last 2 years with having kids: the months of sleep deprivation, hours of corrective exercises and pelvic/core work, bouts of mastitis, poop my pants runs, bladder incontinence, and the days of questioning is it all worth it and will it ever come back to me? Hell yes it’s worth it!" she writes of her first US Championship race postpartum.
And her followers are loving her honesty, with fans thanking her for keeping it real rather than glossing over how tough the months after a baby can be.
Had to let the day set in before I got deep. Today was a day where I got 2nd in my first National Championship after having my kids. 51:13 15k on a muggy morning. (5:29 pace) I felt like I won my own race. Coming back from pregnancy has been extremely humbling, embarrassing at times, but extremely rewarding. Not many women I raced today were pumping breast milk pre race. But it can be done. I hope more pro runner ladies don't wait for their careers to end to have babies. I hope runner mamas everywhere find belief and stength and humor in their post baby comeback. I hope men runners aren't weirded or grossed out by the realities of a mom runner. Because the mom strength and power is real ya'll. #roadtorio #6monthspostpartum #journeywithsteph #timetofly #oiselleteam
"Coming back from pregnancy has been extremely humbling, embarrassing at times, but extremely rewarding," Bruce captions a photo of her second-place finish at the US 15k Championship. "I hope runner mamas everywhere find belief and stength and humor in their post baby comeback. Because the mom strength and power is real ya'll."