Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae is one of triathlon’s biggest superstars. A three-time Ironman World Champion, Rinny knows a thing or two about optimizing her training for whatever racecourse comes her way. She’s also a mother who’s expecting her second child, so she’s an expert on training while pregnant, too. Here are some of her best tips for expectant mothers who want to keep up a regular triathlon training routine.
Starting a family is one of life’s biggest challenges, and raising children often requires some big changes to your routine. So it’s important to prioritize the activities that matter most to you, and also to make sure you’re taking care of your physical and mental health as you prepare to welcome a baby into the world. Here are some tips that I’ve found can help out expectant mothers who want to continue their regular workouts and fulfill their triathlon goals.
There is no rule book here—believe me, I’ve looked for one. But this is 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 I normally would have followed and just tapered it down as I felt necessary. Regardless of whether you are a pro athlete or an avid age grouper cyclist, it’s important to set some good routines early on in your pregnancy. For me, keeping my current schedule gave me the energy and the discipline to carry throughout the pregnancy. The most important thing is to move. Circulation can be a real issue, especially in the final trimester. Even if I get on my bike in the morning for a solid ride 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 better my body does with some consistent movement.
Get ready—you’re going to feel fatigue more often than you otherwise would. You will also find that the exhaustion is easy to give in to. You are carrying some weight and your body is working double-time to create a healthy baby. I found that I had more energy the more I stayed on task and worked out. Stay hydrated and remember you are also eating for two. And again, listen to your body, and be kind to yourself.
Don’t hesitate to adjust your fit on the bike—make it comfortable for you. Even if that means flipping over your road handlebars, do whatever you need in order to get into a comfortable position on the bike. I haven’t loved riding the trainer much, as I find it super hard to be motivated when the watts are much lower than normal—plus, the extra weight on the saddle doesn’t feel so great. But I do know many other expecting mums who have loved riding the trainer in their later months of pregnancy, and it’s a great way to continue getting in your cycling workouts.
If running or cycling isn’t comfortable for you, then try using an elliptical machine. You are still hitting some of the same muscle groups and can get in a pretty great workout. Get creative. Even pool running can offer a great non-weight bearing solution to keeping those running muscles firing. There are plenty of activities outside the three main triathlon disciplines to ensure you’re keeping active.
As the weeks roll by and the weight piles on, I find that running and cycling become more and more uncomfortable, and so I’ve started to spend more time in the water. Put fins on or try using a swim buoy to mix things up. Swimming is the one time I don’t feel pregnant and can really get my body to stretch. Luckily, triathlon is such a unique sport in that all three disciplines will support each other.
Start to plan out your return to racing by creating a race schedule or focusing on a goal event. This will help get you out the door to continue working out on a regular basis, and hopefully you will hold on to a decent amount of fitness throughout your pregnancy—which should translate to an easier comeback post-baby. I say this, but keep in mind you will need (and want) to take some real time off (at least six to eight weeks) once the little one arrives. Once you do start back, be kind to yourself. Your body needs to adjust back to normal even with your maintenance with fitness during the prior 10 months. Take baby steps in your return to competition—those first few months are brutal, but it’s all worth it when you are back up and racing!
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