Pregnancy and Triathlon Training (Part I)

Going into triathlon training was harder than going into half marathon training. I was training for a distance I had never done before.  I signed up for the race because I wanted something to distract me from what I anticipated being a roller coaster of TTC.  Well, I signed up for the race because I wanted to do an International Distance Triathlon.  The fact that I knew it was going to be timed with a possible pregnancy was a minor concern, but I did some googling and it turns out that other women have done tris while pregnant, and I really wanted to do a race. So I signed up.

I started training in January because I wanted to build up a base before getting pregnant. So I pushed myself really hard to follow my training schedule up through the end of February, when I first found out.  Also, I knew that the doctor’s advice would be, “as long as you were doing it before you were pregnant, you can continue”.  So I wanted to be able to do all of the distances for my race before I was actually pregnant.  After I found out, I pushed myself really hard to keep training because other than a bit of nausea, I didn’t feel that different.  Then, around 6 weeks, on my way to the pool in the morning, I got off the bus and puked all over the sidewalk.  It was probably the most upsetting thing that happened to me in my early pregnancy, just because it came out of NOWHERE – I had been fine that morning – and because it was so sudden and so embarrassing.  I wondered if I should skip my swim until I felt better, but I decided to go with it – and it made me feel better.

I cut back on spin class because I was concerned about overheating in the tiny, HOT, cycle studio at the gym, and I didn’t want to tell the instructor yet that I was pregnant.  I did spin on my own and fortunately once it warmed up I was able to ride outside.  I also continued to bike commute (more on that in a later post), so it wasn’t like I was spending no time on a bike.

I kept up my running as part of my half marathon training, and after the half, I cut back on my long runs and ran about 4-6 miles on the weekends and 2-3 miles during the week.  I was lucky to mostly avoid the being super-duper-exhausted that a lot of women report, and was able to make it to the gym at least every other day.  I don’t think, after week 7 or 8, I ever had a full 2SBR week.  I tried to just do the best that I could and have faith that the base that I built would carry me through.

Around week 12 my tri shorts no longer fit.  I ordered a new pair of low rise shorts from DeSoto and a tank from them as well, which were great.  The shorts were low rise and I sized up to a Large and they fit me comfortably through the race, which was at 16 weeks.

Like with half training, my long training rides/runs on weekends wiped me out completely. I needed a nap, and once it got hotter out, I found I had a headache from dehydration and being in the sun too long afterwards.  I carried a Camelbak with Nuun and ate sportbeans or stinger honey gummies (which are my new favorite training snack).

My main concern for the actual race was how thirsty I get and how that would affect me during the swim.  I drink a lot of water normally, but I’ve been so thirty all of the time.  And my throat being dry tends to bring on nausea.  I had hoped my nausea would clear up by 12 weeks or at least 14 weeks but I was still nauseated and throwing up the week of and after the race, so that was a little disturbing.  I was also concerned about getting enough water, so I made sure to drink as often as possible from my Camelbak and take water at all of the rest stops on the run course.

Other concerns you might have as a triathlete would include whether your wetsuit will fit. I got lucky – I happen to have a wetsuit that is a size up from my regular size, and I was able to squeeze myself into it pretty comfortably for the race.  Definitely rent or obtain a hyperstretch wetsuit if yours is starting to feel snug.  Don’t google “maternity wetsuit” because it will lead you to about 200 forum posts in which somebody asks about a maternity wetsuit and 20 people tell her that it’s way too dangerous to do any of the activities that require a wetsuit.

Actually, let’s just talk about concern trolling, shall we?  Don’t google “doing a triathlon pregnant” if you don’t have the ability to dismiss a bunch of people who don’t know what they are talking about on the internet.  The responses I read varied from “it’s fine” to “falling off a bike when pregnant is inevitable and will kill your baby.”  (Spoiler: I fell off my bike at 10 weeks and we are just fine, thank you. Not that I recommend it.)  Remember that these people are not doctors. They do not know you. So talk to your doctor, consider your abilities, and then consider how far along you are.  I would not recommend doing a long distance tri beyond 17 or 18 weeks personally, because that was the point when my stamina was really shot and even walking uphill became challenging.  I would not recommend it if you are just trying to PR because the chance that you will PR is pretty slim.  But if you are in good shape, can do all of the distances already, and want to do a race? I say talk to your doctor and then go for it.

There is a part II of this post that will be coming in August, because I have a sprint I’m signed up for.

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Filed under Cycling, Exercise and Fitness, pregnancy, Uncategorized

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