Friday, April 8, 2016

Exercising While Pregnant! The NEW Journey of Fitness for a Pro Triathlete!

Some people describe pregnancy as a blissful time of wonderment and joy.  For some, the anticipation of what’s to come, combined with the weekly milestones and ultrasound pictures make it an experience to be savored.  Others, riddled with joyous wonders like morning sickness, constipation and fatigue start counting down the days until their little one arrives from the moment they saw those two lines indicating “this is it!”  I probably fall somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios.  While I was lucky enough to only experience a week of the dreaded “morning sickness,” I definitely experienced the fatigue during that first trimester that made it hard not to spontaneously nap in the middle of the day.  Now, over the halfway mark (yeah! 23 weeks!), the second trimester is treating me well and I’ve got my energy back.  I couldn’t be more thankful to feel a little more like myself.  
The days of 26 hours a week of swimming, biking, running and strength training seem like a lifetime ago.  However, I have to admit, only spending about one hour a day “exercising” like a normal person has its appeal as well!  For the first time in about ten years, I don’t wait for the workout to appear in my email instructing me on what heart rate, pace or duration I’ll be doing on my run today or what wattage (power) goal I’ll be shooting for on my long ride.
While I try to alternate days so I’m not doing any one type of activity too often, I get up and listen to what my body and mind feel like doing for workouts and that guides me toward the next steps.  The preparation for these shorter days is virtually nonexistent, unlike my former life of gathering clothes for multiple sports per day or filling water bottles, packing gels and bars and planning recovery fuels for after the workout.  Right now, the schedule looks a bit like the following:

Monday: Run 40 mins – 1 hour (heart rate 140 or less)
Tuesday: Bike 1 hour indoors (heart rate 140 or less)
Wednesday: Swim 2500 yards (approximately 50 minutes) and strength train 30 minutes
Thursday: Run (or elliptical machine) 40 mins – 1 hour
Friday: Bike 1 hour indoors or swim 2500 yards and strength training 30 minutes
Saturday: Bike or run 45 mins to 1 hour
Sunday: rest up!

Just to give you a comparison, my workouts previously were usually heart rates of 145-160 most days, so the heart rate of 140 is a considerably lower number for me and this new life I’m growing!  In the weight room, I’m using the machines primarily (i.e. leg extension, hamstring curl, seated rows, lat pull down, squat simulation) and a few light free weights (10-15 lbs.) to do shoulder press, lunges and bicep curls.  I’m starting to get a few stares while I lift (they are probably thinking “has she just been eating too many burgers or is she pregnant”??), but I don’t mind.  I’ve spent my life as an athlete learning how to listen to my body and the signals it’s providing.  If I don’t feel comfortable at any point, I adjust, modify or simply stop what I’m doing.  

The health of this baby is the number one priority, but I feel great knowing what I’m doing is keeping both of us healthy (and sane while I tackle grad school, coach, teach a college class and do a number of national speaking engagements).  It’s been an adjustment at times not to have the mental outlet to go really “feel the burn” during a tough workout on the bike or hang my head exhausted after a run, but it’s just not the time for those types of workouts.  
Instead, I’m finding other ways to get that same “runners high” and am learning a lot about myself.  I’m feeling the mental and physical shift in priorities toward the new most important thing in our lives!  I miss triathlon, but I’m living vicariously through my athletes and I still follow all of my other friends who are competing.  I love cheering them on from the sidelines. 

A few of the joys that no one told me about during this time (for your laughing pleasure):
  •      My thighs rubbing together while I run and chaffing!  So fun!
  •           Buying new sports bras because I’m more well-endowed than I’ve ever been in my life!
  •          Having to pee pretty much all of the time, ESPECIALLY on my runs where I may have been known to find a secluded bush or tree along the way to water
  •           People staring (I mentioned this above), “is she pregnant”?
  •           Slowing down while!  I am now running almost two to three minutes slower than I was previously!  I also now have to use paddles to keep up with my friend Lauren in the pool!

All in all, it’s been an interesting process that I’m somewhat enjoying.  While I miss hard workouts, sushi, tuna, soft cheeses and wine, I know the payoff will be absolutely worth it on July 30th!  It’s a huge blessing to have this opportunity to become a parent and I don’t take it lightly.  Kyle and I are very excited to join the club.  I can’t wait to meet our little one (even though we are definitely not prepared with our baby gear and nursery at this point!). 

Stay tuned for more exciting times in the life of a first-time pregnant triathlete and make sure you follow Ultragrain on Facebook for more videos, blogs and fun to come!

1 comment:

Whit Cummins said...

Ahhh - now you are were I was when I was "competing" at Nationals AG a few years back! The nutrition you wrote me turned into a pregnant person's nutrition plan for this race and I STILL remember when I was racking my bike, the lady was like "um, ma'am, this area is for athletes only!" HA! Enjoy your downtime workouts and the lessons they teach you. I really learned to embrace the human aspect of racing and training while doing tris and marathons with Clare Bear. I also talked to her constantly which was an awesome bonding experience. Enjoy and congrats mama!