Chicago Fitness & Recovery Center

Tales of a Pregnant Triathlete

Personal Training in Chicago - EDGE Athlete Lounge

Starting a family was something my husband and I were clear we wanted to do. We just didn’t know when it would happen….and I had no idea how much my life would transform during the pregnancy, especially in ways related to my athletic identity.

 

I kind of assumed that I would feel just fine during pregnancy. I also imagined myself being the extreme go getter female athlete throughout the whole 9 months. I’m not sure where I got that notion, besides the fact that my mom said she felt fine during pregnancy (or perhaps she’s repressed it all by now), or maybe it was due to my flawed moral superiority that I was above nausea and fatigue or something. Regardless, my humanity and mother nature had a way of silencing those early thoughts and assumptions very quickly! 

The first week I found out I was pregnant I told my Coach and Chiropractor (Dr. Ryan!). I was feeling really great the first week and my decision to tell them was more like a “heads up that this happened” kind of thing because I googled who you should tell right away and that’s what google said. And so my tiny support team was created. Boy was I grateful for them!!! Turned out I needed a lot of support, and, in reflection I wish I would have shared with more people right away to have even more support. Being a pregnant athlete can be quite lonely at times, especially when the world doesn’t know and your life and body is changing quickly in such major and unseen ways…I remember opening up my training peaks account after telling my coach I was pregnant and my workouts had changed drastically. Instead of strength class (I couldn’t modify everything without letting people know!!), there was yoga in its place…I started sobbing. The intensity had decreased and I was now watching my heart rate in different adjusted zones than I was used to. It took a while to accept and embrace those changes…in fact I’m still working on it!

A couple of the themes that stand out most to me about my pregnant athlete journey are flexibility and grace. One day I’m running 11 minute miles and the next 8.30’s. Depending on how I’m feeling on that day I may choose to push myself more or back off and walk. It’s so unlike my non pregnant days where, despite how I was feeling day to day, I forced myself to stick to my training plan with very little room for negotiation. Bringing that mentality into pregnancy was anything but helpful. In the early days I tried so hard to stick to the plan my coach wrote for me, forcing myself to do the workouts despite feeling super crappy. I began to feel burdened by my training plan and even a bit depressed. I wasn’t accomplishing what I thought I would have been able to (skewed expectations!) and opening my training peaks account was a reminder of that. We tried a new type of flexible plan which seemed to work OK for a couple of weeks. And then, ultimately I accepted I was in a different season of life and doing prescribed workouts on a daily basis was not working for me. It was really hard for me to put a pause on coaching but I’m really glad I did. It has enabled me to find more joy in working out again because I have the freedom to choose what I want to do day to day that feels good and empowering to me. 

I’ve really had to work at refraining from comparing myself to other pregnant athletes and do what feels right for me. This is tricky business for a very competitive lady! But I truly think I’m developing and growing my mental skills in a whole new way right now due to pregnancy. Discerning that balance between choosing to give myself grace and beating myself up is a super fine line. It becomes even fuzzier when you have this little being growing inside of you that you feel so utterly responsible for. I’m positive there are some days I could have pushed more and some days I should have rested, but I am learning and growing and I think that’s what matters most.

Despite the fact that I’ve put a pause on being coached for this season, I’m super grateful to have had my coach with me from the beginning as it was a way to connect with someone daily about how I was feeling. I remember writing in my training peaks log “New symptom, waking up in the middle of the night nauseous, but nothing some almonds, crackers and Lacroix can’t handle.” And she responded “I've got an almond stash bedside too, and I'm not even pregnant!  It's what the cool kids do:)” which made me feel very happy, and very cool too.

It’s the little things, and those tiny but mighty connections you have with people that give you flickers of hope, make you smile, and create the spark to help you keep moving forward. 

I’m still very much in the midst of this pregnant athlete journey with 19 weeks to go. But what stands out most right now is that it’s just a new and different season for me and that’s OK. Similar to how we all experience new and different seasons all the time…whether you may be killing it and getting those PR’s race after race, or injured and taking time off, or you’re experiencing major life stressors that are either propelling your forward or holding you back…we can all resonate with the thoughts and and feelings that come along with those different seasons. And I think the thing that supports us most throughout all of those different seasons is each other. 

I’m so grateful for my EDGE family…whether it’s Melissa S gifting me with my first maternity workout tank, Jerry C for being ridiculous about keeping the secret I was pregnant, Dr. Ryan holding space for me as I sobbed during one of my appointments in those early lonely days, Hailey D forcing me to think about my goal for my first preggo 5k when I only wanted to ask her about hers, Jenna W reassuring me that I could raise a little social justice fighter despite the days I was feeling scared and depressed about bringing a new life into this crazy world, Katie F volunteering to be an honorary grandma, the full room of members that was present when we took our family announcement pic (when I thought it would be empty), or Robyn coming up with the PPR (Pregnant PR) so I could still be included in the 2017 year of the PR and have something to work towards starting with a clean slate!  All of you have added such color and light to this new path in my athletic (and very human) journey. In a season unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced, I’m so glad to do it in community with you.

Starting a family was something my husband and I were clear we wanted to do. We just didn’t know when it would happen….and I had no idea how much my life would transform during the pregnancy, especially in ways related to my athletic identity.

 

- Coach Laura




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