9 Questions: Lindsay Schwartz Flach on Running the Olympic Trials While Pregnant

Lindsay Schwartz Flach

Verywell Family / Photo Illustration by Don Eschenauer / Getty Images / Lindsay Schwartz Flach

In honor of the nine months of pregnancy, we are asking pregnant people nine questions about their journey to parenthood. This is an inside look at professional runner Lindsay Schwartz Flach’s pregnancy experience. 

“Pregnancy is way worse than the heptathlon,” says Lindsay Schwartz Flach, 31, a professional runner. She is best known for competing in the heptathlon. It is a seven-event track and field competition where athletes participate in the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter sprint, long jump, javelin throw, and 800-meter run.

In June 2021, Schwarz Flach ran in the US Olympic Team Trials while 18 weeks pregnant. She ranked 15 out of 18.

Heptathlon competitors have great range and grit—and yet none of Flach’s training prepared her for her tumultuous first pregnancy. At press time, she is six months pregnant and still dealing with morning sickness as she counts down to her November 24 due date.

Flach is also a running coach who trains clients at a chiropractor’s office, and she has had to cut back on her hours (and workouts) to accommodate her illness. This was not the first time Flach stepped away from work. After taking second place at the USA Track and Field Nationals in 2018, she quit her training job to focus on track full time.

This meant moving away from her then-fiancé, now-husband, track coach Randall “Randy” Flach, 38. She spent her days training full time in California with hopes of placing in the top three at the Olympic Team Trials, the ranking required to make Team USA in the 2020 Olympics. 

She had previously tried to qualify in 2012 and 2016. “I was ready to move on with my life, but wanted it to be on my own terms,” Flach said of her decision to try a third and last time to qualify for the Olympics, ideally before an injury sidelined her for good.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Flach didn't know whether the Olympics would go on after all. So she moved back to Victoria, Texas, with Randy, and bumped up her wedding date to September 2020.

That winter, Flach got a positive pregnancy test that changed, well, everything. Verywell Family caught up with Flach to find out more.

Lindsay Schwartz Flach

Verywell Family / Photo Illustration by Don Eschenauer / Getty Images

Question 1

Verywell Family: Elite athletes tend to plan their pregnancies around events like the Olympics. Was any part of you disappointed about the timing of yours? 

Lindsay Schwartz Flach: Yes, but I have been so exhausted that it hasn't quite hit me yet. I had always known that 2020 was going to be my last year competing—it is mentally and physically draining to train at that level, and I was ready to start a family.

When we decided to start trying to get pregnant right after our wedding, we didn’t know if it would happen right away because it had taken my mom over a year. I had already qualified for the Olympic trials when I found out I was pregnant in December 2020.

I did the math and knew there was no way I would make the team at 18 weeks pregnant, but still wanted to keep training. By week six, I was starting to feel sick and didn’t know if I would even have it in me [to compete].

Although I made it to the trials, I wasn’t happy with any part of my performance—I was feeling good and did too much during my warmup to reach my potential in competition. Going to the Olympics is the kind of cherry-on-top thing that athletes give up so much of their lives and work so hard for. I have to focus on what I have accomplished over the past nine years of competing professionally. 

Question 2

VWF: You trained for the Olympic trials throughout your first trimester. Did you face any pushback about that decision?

LSF: Yes. I had plenty of people without medical degrees tell me that I would hurt my baby by continuing to train. So much of what we are told not to do is fear-based, but there are definitely women who continue to compete.

After I announced my pregnancy, so many people reached out to say they kept surfing until 37 weeks or kept running until five days before they gave birth! Personally, my doctors said that since I was training before I was pregnant, I could keep doing what I was doing.

Although I can be a little stubborn, I do listen to my body. When I got pelvic pain when I ran, I would stop and reschedule the workout I had planned.

Although I can be a little stubborn, I do listen to my body. When I got pelvic pain when I ran, I would stop and reschedule the workout I had planned.

At the trials, I set out to take things one event at a time, but was feeling so good I attempted the high jump, which terrified people. For the record, I cleared the bar.

You really don’t have to go rest and relax just because you are pregnant. You have to listen to your own body, your coaches, and your doctors. There are plenty of moms who were active throughout their pregnancies and their kids are just fine. 

Question 3

VWF: You have said you suffered severe morning sickness throughout your pregnancy. How did that affect your training and mental health? 

LSF: It was bad. For six weeks, I didn’t miss a day of vomiting. Because I never really knew when I would have to hurl, I kept trash bags and bins in every room in the house and in every car.

The episodes were hard on my body. For a long time, I felt depleted and couldn’t train. It is why I didn’t do as well as I had wanted to do [at the trials].

Luckily, the vomiting slowed down and now only continues sporadically.

Question 4

VWF: When you weren’t battling nausea, how has your pregnancy affected your physical fitness?

LSF: I’ve already gained 30 pounds mostly in my belly, so I have had back, hip, and pelvic pain. My body changes every day, so as soon as I figure out something that works—like belly-supporting tape, a more supportive sports bra, or braces—it stops working!

Although my last meet is behind me, I am still training for labor and recovery, and the 5K or half marathon I want to sign up for after the baby is born. I want to have something to strive toward.

Right now, my workouts are focused on lifting and movement exercises since the trials; no running. I take naps every day to keep my energy up.

 Lindsay Scwartz Flach

Verywell Family / Photo Illustration by Don Eschenauer / Getty Images

Question 5

VWF: How has your diet changed throughout your pregnancy?

LSF: What I eat changes by the day. Before I got pregnant, I’d stick to fruits; veggies; proteins like meat, chicken, fish, venison; and rice and oats. I know it sounds bland, but it’s what made me feel good when I was training six days a week up to five hours a day. 

Now that I’m pregnant, I definitely eat more bread, sandwiches, ice cream, and caffeinated soda, which I haven’t drank in 10 years!

But the biggest change in my diet is how frequently I eat. Now I have five to seven small meals a day every 1.5 to 2 hours. For dinner, I’ll split my normal portion and eat half at 4 p.m. and half at 7 p.m.

But the biggest change in my diet is how frequently I eat: I used to do three big meals with snacks or protein shakes in between, but now I have five to seven small meals a day every 1.5 to 2 hours. For dinner, I’ll split my normal portion and eat half at 4 p.m. and half at 7 p.m.

As for desserts, ice cream has always been a soft spot for me, but I would only go out for a scoop of it once a week. Anytime I buy it, I devour it in days. Now, I rationalize eating ice cream at home to counter overheating. I will go back to keeping it out of my house when the baby is born! 

Question 6

VWF: How has it felt going through your pregnancy at a time where motherhood has been front and center in the Olympics? We have seen a lot of coverage about Allyson Felix competing as a mom. And before the Olympics, there was the news that breastfeeding athletes could bring infants.

LSF: I feel supported. I went into trials trying to hide my pregnancy. I quickly realized that I couldn’t both because I was showing, and because of how sick I was.

I am proud to be an influencer who can show you are capable of competing when you are pregnant. And I hope I can be a role model for moms trying to pursue their careers while supporting and nourishing a child by breastfeeding. 

Question 7

VWF: Fitness is obviously a huge part of your identity. Are you worried about getting back in shape after pregnancy or having the time to work out? 

LSF: Yes. There have been times when I’ve struggled to gain weight to boost my performance, and it has been a wake up call to gain weight so quickly during my pregnancy.

My goal is to lose the weight and get healthy. I am hoping that I will be able to kick a soccer ball around or go for a run with my child. And I hope that being in the fitness industry will allow me to squeeze in workouts at my gym before work. 

Question 8

VWF: How are you and your partner prepping for parenthood together?

LSF: We are not doing a very good job! We are using family names for middle names, but we are still struggling with first names and really need to nail them down! (We’ll need one girl's name and one boy's name since we are not finding out the gender ahead of time.) 

We have a baby room in progress, but everything is still in boxes. So far Randy and I are on the same page about most things, but he thinks my mom should just unpack everything while I am in labor, while I want to have the room prepared before November.

I am glad we’ll both take a month off after the baby is born. We need the time to be new parents together and get the feel of how life is going to be. 

Question 9

VWF: What part of parenting are you most excited about? 

LSF: I am excited to watch our child set a goal and work toward it. It doesn’t have to involve track. It doesn’t matter to me if they choose band or dance or some other school activity as long as they are committed to it. I want them to know that as long as they put their mind to it, and put the work in, they can accomplish anything. 

By Elizabeth Narins
Elizabeth Narins is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, editor, and social media strategist whose favorite workout is chasing her toddler. Her work has been published by Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Parents, Health, Bustle, and more.