The first 3 months…sucked. Almost immediately, I stopped feeling like myself in workouts. Keeping pace with my training partners ended after warm up. Since I wasn’t ready to tell people my news, making up fake excuses for my “lack of fitness“ became the norm. I’m lucky that I never had to deal with morning sickness or nausea. But I did get hit with fatigue. Since training full time makes you feel tired all the time, it wasn’t too much of an adjustment, but it was frustrating. At the end of each day, I’d think, how come I feel like I can’t make it to 8 o’clock and I’ve done “nothing” all day. Of course, nothing wasn’t nothing, but when you are used to pushing yourself in workouts, an easy swim , ride or run feels like nothing.
Things started to improve in the second 3 months. With the help of Dr. Jennifer Ashton, I was able to come up with a realistic idea of what worked for me training-wise. We settled on doing 2-3 hours of exercise a day, all at an easy to moderate effort, broken up into one hour sessions. To keep things interesting, I started taking The Bar Method classes. The challenging exercises in Bar allowed me to have the feeling of pushing myself that I wasn’t getting out of easy runs, swims and bikes. Meanwhile, I was getting slower in slower on the roads and in the pool. One day I called Julie Ertel (training partner, mom of twins, triathlon champion), distraught about not being able to hold a 1:20 interval in the pool. All the books and articles go on about how swimming is the perfect way to exercise while pregnant, but here I was throwing my goggles across the pool out of frustration at the end of every swim. Contrary to what people may think, the extra buoyancy does not equal instant speed. Julie filled me in on what isn’t written in the books: that if you are a competitive swimmer, swimming may still be one of the best ways to exercise while pregnant, but be prepared to move down a few lanes in the pool. Julie set me straight and gave me week-by-week guidelines of what intervals to expect to be able to hold—adding 5 to 10 seconds a week is totally acceptable. She also assured me that after the fact, the reverse happens and each week, times will drop, without even “getting in shape.” I’m waiting for that to happen but first I have to get through the final 3+ months.
Now that I’m into month 6, I’m finally starting to get used to things. It helps that I actually look pregnant now and not just like I’ve had a really, really long off-season. Not that that’s an excuse, it’s more of a reminder that my number one priority is not getting in a good workout. If I don’t break a sweat in my easy workouts, that’s ok. I’ve replaced jogging with 2 hour long powerwalks. Running started to hurt at around week 20. It wasn’t comfortable on my back or stomach or legs and I wasn’t comfortable thinking the aches and pains were somehow not good for the baby. I decided it was better to take this time to allow my body to recharge (and not get injured) so that I could be fresh come January. This is my approach, but everyone is different. My sister, Sarah, who is due with her 3rd kid on the same day (crazy!) just ran the Fifth Avenue Mile in 6:25 and felt great. I’m in awe of that, but have harnessed my competitiveness enough to stick to the daily powerwalks, plus swimming 3-4 times a week, spinning, doing elliptical and lifting weights. I’m also helping coach Laurel through her key workouts and assisting her at races. I’ve gotten to witness several big triathlons, including the London Olympics. Don’t think I was sulking on the sidelines, instead I was taking in, studying and cheering for the amazing athletes I got to watch.
My plan for the next few months is to keep to keep exercising in whatever forms are comfortable, watch a bunch of local races, and keep dreaming about running, swimming and biking fast again.