Triathlon training tips
Starting a family is one of life’s biggest challenges, and raising children often requires big changes in routine. So it’s important to prioritize the activities that matter most to you, and also to make sure you take care of your physical and mental health as you prepare to welcome a baby into the world.
Here are some tips that I have found can help expectant mothers who want to continue their regular training and meet their triathlon goals.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
There is no rule book here, believe me, I have looked for one. But that’s because everyone is different and needs to do their best to listen to their body and only do what feels right. I basically kept the same general training structure that I would normally follow and reduced it when I felt it was necessary.
Whether you are a professional athlete or an avid age group cyclist, it is important to establish some good routines early in your pregnancy. For me, maintaining my current program gave me the energy and discipline to carry on throughout my pregnancy. The most important thing is to get moving.
Circulation can be a real problem, especially in the last trimester. Even if I get on my bike in the morning for a solid walk followed by a swim, I still want to get out later in the day for another 20-30 minutes of walking or hiking. It’s amazing how much my body improves with some consistent movement.
PREPARING FOR FATIGUE
Be prepared, you will feel fatigue more often than you would otherwise. You will also find that exhaustion is easy to give up. You are carrying some weight and your body is working twice as hard to create a healthy baby. I found that I had more energy the more I stayed on task and exercised. Stay hydrated and remember that you’re also eating for two. And again, listen to your body and be kind to yourself.
MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IF NECESSARY
Don’t hesitate to adjust your fit on the bike-make it comfortable for you. Even if that means turning your road handlebars, do whatever it takes to get into a comfortable position on the bike. I have not liked riding the trainer very much, as I find it super difficult to be motivated when the watts are much lower than normal, plus the extra weight in the saddle does not feel so good.
But I know a lot of other pregnant moms who have loved using the trainer in the last few months of pregnancy, and it’s a great way to keep working out on the bike.
TRY OUT NEW ACTIVITIES
If running or cycling is not comfortable for you, then try using an elliptical machine. You’re still hitting some of the same muscle groups and you can get a great workout. Be creative. Even running in a pool can be a great weightless solution to keep your running muscles going. There are many activities outside of the three main disciplines of triathlon to ensure that you stay active.
SWIMMING IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
As the weeks go by and the weight builds up, I find that running and cycling becomes more and more uncomfortable, so I’ve started spending more time in the water. Put on flippers or try using a swimming buoy to mix things up. Swimming is the only time I don’t feel pregnant and I can make my body stretch. Fortunately, triathlon is such a unique sport that all three disciplines support each other.
PLAN YOUR RETURN TO THE RACES
Start planning your return to racing by creating a race calendar or focusing on a target event. This will help you get out there to continue training on a regular basis, and hopefully keep in good physical shape throughout your pregnancy, which will translate into an easier return after the baby is born.
I say this, but keep in mind that you will need (and want) to take some time off (at least six to eight weeks) once the baby arrives. Once you start coming back, be kind to yourself. Your body needs to adjust to normal even with the maintenance of your physical condition over the previous 10 months. Take baby steps on your return to competition; those first few months are brutal, but it’s all worth it when you get back up and running.