TWO YEARS after becoming the first American woman to win gold in the Olympic triathlon, Gwen Jorgensen is celebrating another milestone: her son's first birthday. Last August, Jorgensen gave birth to Stanley, her first child, shortly before announcing she would focus solely on the marathon ahead of Tokyo 2020. Now, Jorgensen is training for her first marathon since maternity leave.

SI: Why is running a sport in which mothers seem to thrive at the world-class level?

GJ: You see the pioneers like [American marathon record holder] Deena Kastor and [two-time Olympian] Kara Goucher, who have a kid and come back. They give a lot of hope and inspiration for want-to-be mothers to compete. You see one person do it and think, If they could do it, I could do it.

SI: You were running and training during your pregnancy. Is that something you'd recommend to an average athlete?

GJ: I would recommend exercising and running if you don't feel pain. I ran hard and got my heart rate up. I had an internal mechanism that wouldn't let me go faster than a certain speed. Our bodies know. Keeping active is good for you and the baby.

SI: How did you know that you were ready to get back into running?

GJ: Everyone is different. For me, it took a while. You have to feel it out. I took seven weeks off and had to start really slow. My first workout was a one-minute run and five-minute walk four times.

SI: How did you remain patient as you returned to training?

GJ: It felt like a year, but it was just two months. I was able to progress quickly. Six months after giving birth, I was running PRs on the track. It's hard to have that perspective when you're going through it. You just need to be patient and kind to yourself. I was really trying to enjoy that time with Stanley because I knew I wouldn't always have the luxury of spending time with him. I can at least be a good mom.

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PREPARING FOR A RACE ISN'T JUST ABOUT THE MILES. TRY THESE EXERCISES TO SUPPLEMENT YOUR RUNNING ROUTINE

WALL DRIVES

Place your hands on a wall and form a 45-degree angle with the ground. Plant the ball of your left foot on the floor as you spring the right leg forward. Alternate.

RUSSIAN TWISTS

Lie down with your knees bent and feet raised. Lift your upper body to form a V with your thighs. Hold a medicine ball and twist your torso from side to side.

WALKING HURDLES

Line up a set of hurdles, their bases touching. Swing your left leg over the first hurdle. Then swing your right leg over the next hurdle. Repeat.