Training while pregnant

Here starts a new block of training.  It is called the pregnancy phase.  Gone for this year are the posts about hard training sessions, race preparation and race results.  I will be writing about how I am ‘training’ (note: keeping active, healthy and strong) through my pregnancy.

I  found out in January that I was pregnant.  It was not unplanned, but it was definitely unexpected.  To be completely honest, given my age, activity level and low body fat I thought it would take me much longer than it did.  In fact, I thought there was a definite possibility that having a child would not happen for me.  Apparently my ‘fast twitch’ genetics don’t just apply to muscle and nerves…


Training in the first month was a struggle.  In particular I felt out of breath at paces or powers below my ‘zone 2’.  I had to take breaks often and my heart rate soared at the mere mention of working out.  I did persevere and continued to exercise allowing my body to tell me what I should be doing. I did not force the pace, did not look at the clock and just did what I could.  Napping during the first few weeks came easily. This was a pleasant surprise as I have always struggled to nap.  It has always been hard for me to shut down, both physically and mentally. 

The following two things I found the most interesting: a severe lack of drive and motivation, as well as a crazy, cannibalistic hunger after every workout.

After I had conceived, but before I knew I was pregnant, I recognized an uncharacteristic drop in motivation.  I noted this on several occasions in my training log but wrote it off as being tired from other life events.  I have this intrinsic desire to push, to do, to achieve (these are not always good things, believe me).  I used to hate siting down. Honestly.  I had major difficulty simply sitting down to watch a movie – I had to be doing something else at the same time, situps, stretching, sorting laundry…  But this all changed.  I was perfectly happy to sit.  I was okay with not finishing workouts.  Frustrating people, things, situations all bothered me less.  I was blissee…and I continue to be.  This is one of the very great things about pregnancy, everything seems good.  The new and copious amounts of hormones are to blame, so all should return to normal in about 6 months!

The most disturbing thing was the hunger.  I have done Ironman and I have been racing and training triathlons for over 10 years.  I know what being hungry feels like.  But this, this was something else, and it hit as soon as I finished training. Triathlon hunger is this low-mid level desire for food (carbs, mostly) that buzzes throughout your whole body.  THIS pregnancy hunger felt like someone had taken a power drill with a very, very large drill bit and was driving it right into my belly button.  It was a desperate hunger and I am surprised that no one in my immediate vicinity lost any body parts.

The first three months, I trained 1-3 hours a day in smaller pieces and at a lower intensity.  I biked, ran, swam and did weights.  The only exception to this was 10 days I spent in Clermont leading a training camp where I did a few 2 and 2.5 hour rides to accompany my athletes. 

For running, I have kept my HR below 160 (4:45-6:30/km) for the most part and I don’t deliberately seek out hills.  For biking I have kept my power under 170 for the most part (again HR under 160).  The one exception to this was the PowerWatts session I did a few days after conception (I didn’t know I was preggo) where I was up at 300+ and I really thought I was going to die.  I had NEVER felt so awful on the bike before and it was the closest I have ever come to quitting a workout (but I didn’t…I thought it was nutrition so took too gels, sucked it up and got back on the bike!).  The swimming has slowed considerably, but I use effort and body temp as my guide, not pace.  I am still able to do intervals at 1:20/100m, as long as they are relatively short.  The key thing with swimming is that I float now.  I haven’t ever floated in my life.  This new body comp of mine is helping me maintain pace with less effort in the swim ;).  After each pool session I go off to the site and just float around for a few seconds because it stills seems a little unreal that I can!

I will keep you all posted about how training is going and what I am up to over the course of this new block of training.  If you have any questions, shoot!


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