Lizzie Lee explains how pregnancy had a huge benefit on the road to the Rio Olympics

Irish marathon runner chats to Richie McCormack

Lizzie Lee, Ireland

Ireland's Lizzie Lee celebrates winning a bronze medal ©INPHO/Sasa Pahic Szabo

Lizzie Lee is one of the five fastest Irish female marathon runners of all-time and now at 36, she has finally got the chance to take on the world at an Olympic Games.

The University College Cork graduate is in Rio ahead of the Women's Marathon which takes place on August 14th and that's where Newstalk's Richie McCormack caught up with her to chat about her road to Rio.

"It's my first Olympics at the age of 36," she said, explaining that qualifying for the Games became a realistic target in 2011.

"I ran a good few minutes faster in Berlin in 2013 and took time out to have a baby and then came back and ran a big personal best in September just gone and got myself on the plane." 

Lee felt that having a baby had a great benefit to her en route to the Games.

"Particularly for endurance sport. They say it's like akin to six months altitude training, the pregnancy itself. I also trained during the pregnancy. It was something to do with increased cardiac output, you have more blood flowing through your body. It's basically the equivalent of an altitude training effect," she said. 

"Along with that, you're carrying two extra stone with the pregnancy so if you're training through that, that's going to make you physically stronger. I found that post-pregnancy, I was able to run about 20% extra mileage, which is huge. Then coupled with that, the increased cardiac output effect just made me faster and then along with that there's a peacefulness I got from being a mother. Little things like I didn't sweat the little niggles as much and Lucy was at home so I could play with my baby girl instead of running for the day if there was a small niggle or injury that needed taking care of, so I think just a sense of perspective that running wasn't the be all and end all - being a mother was way more important. So in general I have found it's in writing. My PB [personal best] is five minutes faster and I'm off to the Olympic games."

She added that Sonia O'Sullivan, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Paula Radcliffe are among those who have had babies in the past before their Olympics.

"For endurance sport, it's definitely known to be a help with performance," she told Richie.