The Pregnant Athlete

Learning To Embrace My Changing Pregnant Body While Swimming, Biking, Running & Practicing Yoga


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Balance.

Week 8 | +5 lbs

Finding the right balance between my work, active life and pregnancy has been my greatest challenge so far over the past few weeks.  Being the sole person to manage the accounting, facilities, human resources, scheduling, website and everything else in between at my yoga studio, Sacred Sounds Yoga, has proven to be a formidable task recently.  I am, sometimes, amazed that I was able to work 90+ hours a week, opening and closing the studio everyday, when we first opened, when I can barely keep my eyes open most afternoons these days.  In addition to planning our classes and events for the new year and renovating our facilities, we celebrated our 2-year anniversary with a huge event a week and a half ago!

Sacred Sounds Yoga's 2-Year Anniversary Party, 12/7/13

Sacred Sounds Yoga’s 2-Year Anniversary Party, 12/7/13

Aside from being busy at work, I’ve also just started training for the Delaware Marathon with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS)’s Team In Training (TNT).  I had injured my left knee during the Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon in September,  which forced me to cancel the marathons I had registered for in October and November, so my physical activity has consisted entirely of cycling, yoga and physical therapy.  I was overjoyed when I completed our first official Group Training Session (GTS) of the season, a slow 3-mile run, earlier this month without any pain, and pleased to know that physical activity continues to boost my endorphins–I still finish feeling significantly better than I start!

Team In Training - Brooklyn Chapter's First Group Training Session, 12/7/2013

Team In Training – Brooklyn Chapter’s First Group Training Session, 12/7/2013

The most challenging part of training has been the new pregnancy-related pains.  The most noticeable physical difference is that my breasts have swelled and become extremely painful to the touch. Running can be truly uncomfortable for this reason initially, but I am able to focus on my surroundings more and less on my body after a mile or so. The second issue that has come up is the need to pee frequently. As someone who slept through the night pre-pregnancy, I now wake up three times some nights!  According to BabyCenter, hormonal changes cause blood to flow more quickly through a pregnant woman’s kidneys, filling the bladder more often.  Pregnant women produce 50% more blood over the course of the pregnancy, which means a lot more extra fluid. The need to pee will only worsen over the course of the pregnancy, of course–I wonder if this means I should plan to stop at every port-a-potty on marathon day.  A third problem that has affected me is that I now always feel cold no matter how many layers I wear, which, I learned, has to do with the fact that a pregnant body is warmer–it’s a dramatic change considering I formerly wore sleeveless shirts through the winter.  These cold months training outside will certainly feel even colder now!

Aid Station during the JFK 50-Mile Ultramarathon, 11/17/2012

Aid Station during the JFK 50-Mile Ultramarathon, 11/17/2012

How long will it take for me to determine how to balance my work and active life with the changes that will continue to occur in my pregnant body? Will I be able to do so? Only time will tell.

Month 2 Belly Photo, 12/15/13

Month 2 Belly Photo, 12/15/13

Week 7 (12/8-15) training: 9 miles

Sunday: Rest
Monday: Spin
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday:  Rest
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Yoga
Saturday: 5 miles

 


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We’re pregnant!

Week: 7 | Weight: +4 lbs 

16 days ago, my husband and I discovered that we are expecting. The pregnancy was not entirely a surprise.  He and I had been actively trying for two months, and my period was already three weeks overdue.  Additionally, I had been feeling “odd” lately–my breasts were tender and sore, my entire body felt swollen, and I had become so tired that I would sometimes fall asleep immediately after dinner.  I had taken two pregnancy tests the week prior that had read negative.  My OB/GYN suggested that we wait a few more days, as pregnancy tests don’t show results until 10-14 days after conception–that certainly made the difference!  Our minds were immediately overwhelmed with a variety of questions, but there was one I knew many moms-to-be would not consider: Will I be able to continue to train?

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Positive, 11/25/13

Only three-and-a-half months ago, I had completed my first Ironman.  I had trained for eight months, six days a week, and sometimes twice a day to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles at the 2013 Ironman Mont Tremblant. It may have been my first Ironman, but it was certainly not my first endurance event–I had completed 13 marathons, one 50-mile ultramarathon and one century ride prior to the Ironman, and I was hooked! To counterbalance my endurance pursuits as well as find mental clarity, I also practiced yoga at the yoga studio I own in New York City, Sacred Sounds Yoga.

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Ironman Mont Tremblant, 8/18/13

Four days ago, my husband and I went for our first ultrasound, and laid our eyes on our baby his or her beating heart. Our baby was 6 weeks and 4 days old.  The fact that he and I created this being, currently the size of a blueberry and a week ago the size of a sesame seed, is profound.   In an effort to honor my changing pregnant body and celebrate my husband and my baby’s life, I realized it was time to make some changes to my active lifestyle.  Initial changes include:

  •  Biking.  As someone who, until now, commuted by bike to and from work, opting to bike only indoors during my pregnancy was still an easy decision to make.  Although bike accidents a few and far between, I was nearly hit by a car going the wrong direction in my lane while training for the Ironman this past summer, so I knew first-hand how traumatic accidents can be.  My road rash scars and tattered clothes serve as proof of the experience. In addition to cycling on my indoor trainer, I decided to take myself off the Flywheel Torque Board, which displays riders’ power during the class, when I spin, so that I don’t feel compelled to compete with other riders, something that I naturally feel inclined to do.
  • Running.  After checking with two different doctors, I will continue to run long distances, and will be training for the Delaware Marathon on May 11th, 2014.  My doctor noted that pregnant women can continue to do low-impact activities, such as running, but advised against anything high-impact.  She discouraged pregnant women from running marathons if they had never before, but asserted that I could if I wanted to because of my fitness level.  Gone are the days when pregnant women were told NOT to exercise!
  • Swimming.  I can continue to swim throughout my pregnancy.  However, I seriously dislike indoor swimming–I hate the ritual of having to commute to the pool, undress, shower and commute again as well as the lingering smell of chlorine on my skin.  I’ve also read that swimming become quite uncomfortable and awkward as the belly grows.
  • Yoga. I will be able to continue practicing yoga until my due date, provided I modify my practice.  I will continue to take regular yoga classes until I’m ready to let people know at Sacred Sounds Yoga, but our prenatal yoga teacher Caprice Abowitt has informed me that I should not twist or invert.  After week 13, I’ll be able to join our Prenatal Yoga classes!