Friday, October 09, 2009

Tips on Triathlon Training for New Moms

I'm not sure I'm the authority on this, but if I found an article like this while I was pregnant or when I first had B., I would have been happy to read it.

1. Ask for help! This is probably the most important thing to keep in mind. You can't do it on your own. And you deserve to have something for yourself. There are some people who will insist that it is your job to take care of the baby, and your husband does not need to help out. Everyone deserves a break. Being a parent is a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week job. You absolutely need and deserve to have something for yourself, and you also need to exercise. A fit mom is a happy mom, and a happy mom means a happy family. Be grateful for the help you get (Thanks Raybon! Thanks Mom and Dad!), but also remember you deserve it. Don't try to micromanage your helpers either. Be grateful you got to train or race and got your baby back safe and sound.

2. Start off slowly and listen to your body. Before I got pregnant, I was training for a Half Ironman distance triathlon. I was running 12 miles for my long runs. I cut this in half once I found out I was pregnant, and eventually went down to walking 3 miles by the end of my pregnancy. When I first started running 6 weeks postpartum, I started the Couch to 5K program on CoolRunning.com. I didn't get sore at all when I did my first run/walk (not even good sore), so I skipped up to Week 4, got a tiny bit sore, and decided I would follow the program from there. (This was when my husband was on Family Leave, and could watch Benjamin while I ran more than once a week.) Everyone is different, so I'm just using myself as an example.

3. Get a really good sports bra. I got The Last Resort Bra from Title 9. It is rated 5 barbells for zero bounce, is made of faster drying material, and unhooks in the front for easy access. :)

4. Ride your trainer while your baby sleeps in a battery operated swing. Trainers are loud, but so is the womb, so newborns find noise soothing.

5. I might add that you should buy a bike trailer. I don't have one and don't intend to ever get one, because I don't ride places that I would feel safe taking my son with me, but lots of people use them with their kids.

6. Eat well and stay hydrated. I keep a couple of water bottles filled up next to wear I nurse. Keeps snacks everywhere. Diaper bags, purse, near where you nurse. If you have what they call a "marathoner" for a baby like I did, you might be sitting in the same place for a really long time.

7. Be flexible and be positive. If you couldn't get in as long a workout as you planned, call it a recovery day. Call it a recovery week if this happens all week. Do these two weeks in a row if you have to. If you can't find time for all three disciplines or your body won't allow you to do it, tell yourself you are focusing on improving the one you can do.

8. If you're going to breastfeed, buy a pump. I would buy one that allows you to pump both breasts at once. I didn't do this, and ended up buying two pumps instead. Most triathmoms are pressed for time, and a double pump saves time. Pumping milk takes longer than you think, especially at first for a first time mom. If you're like me, you start to think of expressed milk as a precious commodity.

9. Walk with your baby in a baby carrier, to wear your baby in. This is how I got
exercise before I was cleared to run or swim by my OB. B. did not like his stroller all that much when he was first born, and still prefers the carrier. Our favorite is the Moby Wrap. It's comfy, distributes B's weight over both shoulders, and you can use it when they are first born. I put mine on in the morning and wear it most of the day, even when not wearing B. It's also good strength training. Hey, if you can't run, at least you can walk with really cute weights. It does tend to sag a bit when walking long distances, though. Although I'm cleared for all exercise now, it is still a convenient way of getting exercise, and B loves it.

10. If you plan on riding your trainer, put your bike shorts on under your clothes when you get dressed in the morning. I also put on a nursing tank to ride in, but I wear those pretty much every day.

11. Get a good jogging stroller. There are different options out there, and you have to weigh the advantages of different ones. I got the BOB Ironman stroller, maybe just because I like the M-Dot. No, seriously, it is built to go fast and straight. You can start using it when they are 8 weeks old to walk with, and 8 months old to jog with. If you want something that turns better, get one with a front wheel that turns (mine does not.) If you want something you can jog with when they are a little younger, apparently there are some out there. The age limitations have to do with their ability to hold their head up and sit up. I asked my doctor if I could jog with B. if he can sit up by himself before he reaches 8 months, and she said this is fine.

12. Again, every family is different. Some people have more needy babies. Some people need more exercise and harder races to feel happy. Some people can recruit more help for themselves, some less. Figure out what you need and what your family needs, and do what works best for everyone. Most triathletes are competitive people, but when it comes down to it, everyone has different goals, needs, and resources, and comparisons and competition are only so useful.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Seaweed's Back

I'm back. Back to racing. Maybe back to blogging. I've done three events so far: Flip Flop Roughwater (1 Mile Swim Around Flip Flop Pier), Flip Flop Triathlon, and a small swim meet.

I get so little time to myself now, I cherish the time I get to race. I used to have a very strong work ethic when it came to racing, but I don't really anymore. I'm not a good mom if I'm tired, so I have to come out of a race with enough energy to take care of Benjamin. If I have enough, he gives it to me back 10 fold, but if I don't have enough he takes it all and then some. Being a good mom just takes focus, and I don't have it when I'm tired. I used to get annoyed by people who would brag about how they didn't care about race results. I could go on and on about this, but I think this sketch by Demetri Martin kind of illustrates what I mean: Passive Aggressive Race

So, I really don't mean to be that type of person. I'm just doing what I can do, which is what everyone who tries to find balance in their lives has to do, right? Maybe I'll discover that doing it for fun is the best reason for doing it anyways, and even if I had energy, I'll never go back to trying to be a badass (and sort of failing at that anyways.) Being happy probably makes for being a better athlete anyways. The endorphins are probably the best kind of fuel.

When I was pregnant and first had Benjamin I tried to search the net to find out what other women did to train. I guess the answer for me and for everyone else is, do you want you can do. I run when I get a chance to run, which is once a week on the weekends. I bike if Benjamin takes a nap long enough for me to ride my trainer. I swim if I can get up early enough to do so, or if Raybon is able to get off work early enough to let me go in the evenings. I get in a walk if the weather is good, and Benjamin is agreeable. So I can't really follow a training program, I just train when I get the opportunity. Being a Mom is teaching me to just enjoy the time I have to work out. If that works out to me getting in shape for a race or improving my speed or endurance, that's awesome. But my time with Benjamin as a baby is so precious, as is my time alone, I just want to enjoy it and do it for the sense of peace and strength it gives me. And it does give me both. I feel strong by being able to run and bike and swim. I don't feel like a wounded veteran of a long labor and C-section. And I feel like a person who is worth taking the time for herself, which infuses my entire life with energy.

This might sound a little funny, but I think I might actually be a triathlete. I've now done 5 tri's, so maybe that sounds obvious. Maybe part of it is that I just don't have time to get back into swimming shape. I've blogged in the past about my thing with open water swimming and triathlon. I think after Wildflower last year, I had so much fun, I was almost ready to say it, but then after Hawaii 70.3, I think I was disappointed by my performance and exhausted. I had a lot of fun at the Flip Flop Triathlon, and I'm more excited about doing another tri than another swimming race. It might be a while before I do another one, but I'm looking forward to whatever it is. Maybe someday I'll even get a wetsuit.