The Pregnant Athlete

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

Leave a comment

Comparing the first and second trimesters.

Week 17  | +10 lbs

It’s amazing that what people often say about the second trimester rings true–your energy level does return! As I detailed in my entry at Week 13, I found the fatigue I struggled with during the first few months of the pregnancy to be crippling.  The fog finally dissipated last week, and it has made a whirlwind of a difference in my abilities to handle work, training and even hanging out with friends.

Court Side Seats & All-You-Can-Eat at the Brooklyn Nets Game at the Barclays Center, 2/19/14

Court Side Seats & All-You-Can-Eat at the Brooklyn Nets Game at the Barclays Center, 2/19/14

To celebrate the changes in my body that have come with the fourth month of my pregnancy, I have compared the differences in my training during my first trimester and the present one below:

  • Biking. Although I stopped biking outside as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I continued to spin weekly with my favorite spin instructor, Holly Rilinger, at Flywheel Sports.   Just before getting pregnant, the Total Power, or measure of my speed and resistance, during my spin classes averaged 310, placing me near the top percentile for the region. During the first trimester, the reading dropped down to 260, but has since bounced back to 300.   I am still listening to my body–I simply have more energy to expend. I was especially excited this past Monday as I convinced my mom to come to class after her doctor suggested that she start participating in cardiovascular activity! It was her first spin class, and, in fact, the first class she’d taken where she “actually sweat,” as she informed me afterward.  She enjoyed it so much that she plans to join me every week, and I was excited by the notion that we had three generations of women in my family in class that day: Grandma, baby and me!
  • Running. I’ve be able to stick to my training schedule for the Delaware Marathon on May 11th. However, up until a week ago, I suffered from debilitating migraines after my weekend long runs.  I had never had migraines prior to becoming pregnant, and needed to nap for at least two hours after each long run, which helped a bit, but never made the headaches go away.  Though I did monitor my fluid and fuel intake a bit better, drinking water every 20 minutes and eating every 50 minutes, I didn’t get a migraine after this Sunday’s 14 mile run, a first in months! I can only chalk it up to the hormonal changes my body underwent during the first trimester, but the true test will be whether or not the migraines return this weekend.
  • Swimming.  Swimming was always my least favorite of the triathlon disciplines only because I dislike indoor swimming, and despise the smell of chlorine.  Considering the freezing temperatures we’ve been dealing with in New York City, the last I wanted to do was to go swimming and freeze afterward.  I’ll likely pick up swimming again when the weather warms, and my husband have ability to swim in the open water somewhere again.
  • Yoga. I was able to continue to take regular yoga classes during my first trimester and modify certain poses for myself, although I likely often confused other students when they noticed I was twisting in the opposite direction than they were or taking bridge pose instead of following the core sequence our teacher was teaching us. Since Week 14, I’ve transitioned from regular classes to prenatal yoga entirely. I love that I am able to learn techniques from my teacher Caprice Abowitt that I’ll be able to apply during child birth, connect with other moms-to-be and practice yoga in a safe and nurturing environment suited to our baby and me.
photo (10)

Spin Class with Mom & Instructor Holly Rilinger at Flywheel Sports, 2/17/14

Week 16 (2/9-15) training: 15 miles

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


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?

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.

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!