I am officially considered early term at 37 weeks along in my pregnancy! Our family of three will soon become a family of four. The last couple of weeks I have begun to feel anxious because of the unknown date the little guy will decide to arrive. Caroline was eight days past her due date and I remember those eight days feeling like an entire month! Only time will tell if he decides to arrive early or late.
Thank you for your questions and interests in my pregnancy and training. Every pregnancy is unique and I can tell differences between my two.
What are some of the major differences between your first pregnancy and second in regards to how you felt?
My first pregnancy was a brand new experience, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I only had the internet and fellow mothers who could give me insight to how they had felt. Most of my differences were felt in the first trimester and my differences could have been felt because I was carrying a different gender with each pregnancy. With my daughter; I felt more emotional and had more food aversions (verses food cravings). With my daughter during the first trimester the thought of eating raw vegetables and chocolate were not appetizing…which is very different from my normal diet. I would have nausea, but mostly during the evening and sometimes I could only stomach a few bits of dinner. During this pregnancy with my son, I had more food cravings. I craved meat and salt and eating raw veggies was never a problem. I still had periods of nausea but it was not as intense as with my daughter. I did lose my breakfast three times and this never happened with my daughter! Interestingly, women do increase their protein intake while pregnant with boys. It’s amazing how the body will tell you what it needs! I was exhausted the first trimester with both pregnancies. Both pregnancies I ate more dairy (milk, yogurt and cheese) during the second and third trimester.
Was your training different with your first and second pregnancy?
My first pregnancy was a huge learning curve. Around nine weeks I quickly learned how much I had to back off on training due to fatigue and an increase in my heart rate. With my second pregnancy, it was nice knowing what to expect and what my limit was with training. During my first pregnancy, I limited my training 90min-2 hours a day of exercise and first trimester I was able work out about six days a week. During the second and third trimester, I felt like I had to energy to work out around 60min -90 min daily and don’t remember taking a day off (unless I was ill or traveling). I had to stop running around 6 months due to round ligament pain and from then on switched to the elliptical.
With my second pregnancy, my training has backed off slightly more than with my first. Most of this is due to having another child and all the joy and responsibilities that go along with that! I typically have been working out 5-6 days a week throughout my pregnancy and it’s been more in the 60-90 minute range. I had to cut back on my running mileage sooner (around 20 weeks, I had to limit my runs to three miles at the time due to some off and on hip ligament pain). I did notice that I was able to run longer into my pregnancy (I could run through the seventh month), but mostly uphill and only for about 20 minutes at a time. During my second pregnancy, my stomach grew much faster (those muscles do have memory and stretch more quickly the second time). I feel that this boy will also be bigger than Caroline, but it has not held me back from being active….although at times slightly uncomfortable. If I feel uncomfortable, it’s usually after a long day of walking around the zoo or theme park. During both pregnancies I have used a Medela pregnancy band which has really helped support my belly. This pregnancy I have also been more uncomfortable cycling. I have had to sit almost completely upright on the trainer. I believe this is due to his position possibly being higher and/or bigger in size as the pregnancy has progressed. I carried my daughter very low and this made cycling more comfortable…but running less comfortable. I have discovered the stair stepper at the gym as a great workout because I can attain some leg strength while being upright. With both pregnancies I have really learned to listen to my body and do what feels good. I try not to push anything beyond the aerobic zone and stop if I feel any type of pain.
What is your training nutrition like during pregnancy?
Because my training volume has decreased, my sports nutrition has decreased as well. Gels are not needed during my workouts, but I still use a carbohydrate electrolyte drink to help me have more energy during my exercise. Primarily during the first trimester, I noticed that my blood sugar would drop very quickly during workouts. I use GLUKOS energy drink to help combat the drop in blood sugar and fatigue during first trimester. During the third trimester I felt it is easier to eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day to combat with the baby squashing the stomach, avoid the feeling of being uncomfortably “full” and combat some heartburn. After workouts, if it was going to be some time before I was able to get in a meal, I eat a GLUKOS whey protein bar. Throughout my pregnancy, I feel that it’s important to focus on my protein intake, as well as eating plenty of nutrient dense foods. Nate would make me a GLUKOS Whey Protein smoothie with spinach, carrots, blueberries, banana, coconut milk, peanut butter, and flaxseed. This was a very nutrient dense meal.
How difficult was it to get back into training after your first pregnancy?
Physically it was much easier than I expected (but still hard) to get back into training after having my daughter. Mentally, it was very challenging however; as it was tough to leave her, plan nursing breaks and get into a routine. First time around I was so excited to get back to race fitness, I believe I ramped up my training a little too quickly. I started swimming and cycling on the trainer two-three weeks after she was born and I began running about four weeks after she was born. There is a bit of trauma that occurs post birth and I feel it’s important to let that soft tissue heal before doing much exercise. Looking back, I started running way too soon for me. I ended up having a few set backs with running six weeks in and then had to wait until eight weeks post birth to resume running. I don’t know yet this time around how my body will feel, but I know I will do a better job of being patient and listening to my body. I also realized last time there was no way possible to start training verses exercising until I was sleeping seven to eight hours per night. Fortunately, Caroline started sleeping well around ten weeks, so I was able to ramp up my training around that time. With this second baby, I won’t start more intense training until he starts sleeping well and/or with just one wake up per night. Having a three year old child with a newborn will also present more fatigue, so I will have to adjust and monitor my training this time around.
How should you approach training after delivery without risk of injury?
I recommend to ease back into training slowly and listen to your body. If you feel really fatigued, take an active recovery or rest day regardless of what your training plan says to do (if you are following a plan). One lesson I had to learn was not to be regimented in a specific training plan. This enabled me to have more flexibility and hit my key training sessions when my body was ready to respond and absorb.
I believe it’s important to focus on strength training, especially your core and hips post birth. Understand that your ligaments continue to be looser up to a year after birth (especially if you are nursing). My pelvic floor was often sore after a long run up to six-seven months post birth, so I believe it’s also important to work on strengthening your pelvic floor as well.
About 11 months after I gave birth to Caroline I had a sacral insufficiency stress fracture. In all my 20 years of running prior to this point, I had never suffered a bone injury. After the injury, I learned that this is a risk factor with nursing while training/racing. Your body is losing many more nutrients due to milk production and many women (like myself) do not have a cycle while nursing, so you don’t have the estrogen surges needed to help build strong bones. What can I do next time around? I still want to continue nursing as it is best for the baby, but will have to be aware the risks and what to do moving forward. 1) Increase amount of Vitamin D and calcium/magnesium 2) Try running every other day or decrease running volume until I am finished with nursing 3) My daughter loved nursing and I overproduced milk so at 11 months she was nursing four to five times per day, which is more than recommended. I did not realize this at the time, but looking back I could have been incorporating more food into her diet around nine-ten months and decreased the number of feedings.
What do you believe will be the biggest challenge with being a professional triathlete and mom of two?
Having the mental energy required to be Mom and having enough mental/physical energy for my workouts. When I had my daughter, I was worried sick when she had here first cold at six weeks old and still worry about her. It’s just part of being a parent! I think it’s important to recognize how much energy is expanded whether it’s physical or mental with being a parent and take that into account with your training.
My daughter has been very attached to me lately. I think she senses the new baby coming and hearing others say that Mom is going to be busy when the new baby arrives. In addition, we have gotten to spend lots of time together during my pregnancy. It’s hard to imagine dividing your heart for the second child, but as I have heard your heart doesn’t divide for the second baby, it simply grows twice in size.
This time around, I need to be reminded more than ever to take my training a day at a time and if I start to feel overwhelmed to simply take a moment and to relax and breathe. It will also be very important to be flexible and not get stressed if I have to adjust a workout or two. Prior to having kids, worrying about getting sick was a big stressor because I could miss out on a huge race I had been training for, etc. With kids around, sickness will happen, but I have learned it’s even worse to stress about it. Also, backing down on some training sessions to avoid an illness lurking is much better in the long run verses pushing through a hard workout.
After my second, I am sure I will learn much more about time management and balancing work and motherhood. The key will be to find that balance and it’s ok if it takes some time to figure it all out.
I am excited to announce a new partnership with Start Right. This is a local Missouri company that believes in starting the day off with a healthy breakfast. They have created breakfast waffles and pancake mix that has no added sugar, gluten free, and 15 grams of protein per serving. The healthy waffles taste great and my three year old daughter loves the healthy breakfast food too! This is a quick and easy breakfast for the entire family.
Start Right is sold at many of the local stores. You can find the waffles at Lucky’s Market and at Dierbergs.
As I enter into the 28th week of my pregnancy, it’s hard to believe I am officially in my third trimester. It’s hard to believe that in just a few short months, our lives will be forever changed with our baby boy entering this world! It’s very exciting, but also daunting to think about all the changes ahead.
The second trimester had some ups and downs with my training. I was still fortunate to be able to get in fairly consistent training, but I had a couple back to back bad colds that left me feeling drained and fatigued for a few weeks. With the holiday travel and parties, it seems that this time of year, we are more likely to pick up bugs…especially with toddlers in tow. Pregnancy also lowers your immune system in order to protect your growing baby, so when I do get a cold it seems to linger a bit longer than normal. While recovering from colds, I still try and get a short workout in (as long as I don’t feel too tired) as I feel better moving the body; both physically and mentally. Another change for me is getting used to a real “winter”! The last four years, I have been spoiled by Florida winters, so I am getting used to more indoor training!
Around 19 weeks, I started cutting back my run volume. I noticed that if I ran longer than 20 or 30 minutes at a time, I put myself at risk to have sore joints (mostly my hips). I now run several times a week on the treadmill at an incline. To keep my mind occupied, I start the incline at 3.5% grade and go up .5% incline every five minutes. I keep the pace very conservative (at 6.0) and I am sure the pace will continue to slow and the incline will continue to increase as my baby grows. With the incline, I can get my heart rate up and also keep the pace and pounding relatively gentle on my changing body. I only stay on the treadmill 20-25 minutes (and I sometimes still have to take a bathroom break to empty my bladder~. I have also found a piece of equipment at the gym I prefer over the elliptical (last pregnancy I switched over to the elliptical during the third trimester). I have been using the stair stepper machine and I have found to enjoy the leg strength and cardio at the same time that this machine provides. I usually do this machine for 20 min prior to getting on the treadmill. This equals around 40 min of leg cardio at the gym. After my “running”, I will spend about 30 min strength training. I feel it’s important to try and keep up with as much strength training as I can during my pregnancy. Around 20 weeks, I stopped using any free weights (the squat bar), as I felt to be a bit off balance with my growing belly. I currently use the machines and body weight exercises. Once I feel pain and or discomfort with running, I will be sure to stop for the duration of my pregnancy and continue with walking elliptical and the stair climber. During my running, I use this band to help support my abs, baby and my ligaments. This is the same band I used last pregnancy and I was recommended to me from other runners during their pregnancies.
I have continued to swim and cycle on my trainer. I have found several series of tv shows on Netflix to keep me occupied while I ride my bike. A difference I notice with this pregnancy verses my last is that I seem to be carrying this baby higher. I have had less round ligament pain while running and swimming, but I have noticed that I have to be very upright while cycling. I feel that I get out of breath easier while riding than I remember during my last pregnancy. With the slight bending over position needed for cycling and the baby feeling higher up on me; perhaps my diagram is getting more compromised.
As with the last pregnancy, I take it a day at a time and do what I feel I am up for on that day. I have felt a bit more tired during the second trimester than I remember with Caroline. This could be due to a toddler to take care of in addition to the exercise. It was also true for me that my stomach grew much faster with my second pregnancy. I guess once those abdominal muscles have been stretched previously, they stretch much faster the second time! I feel that at six months, I am at a similar size at seven months with Caroline! I am already starting to have a hard time tying my shoes. Plus, baby boys tend to be slightly bigger than girls, so I expect to grow a little bigger with him and gain a little more weight.
I look forward to meeting our second child in the next two and a half months! I will continue to keep up with exercising as long as I can and also begin to continue with exercises that will help me with child birth. I will post about those another time! Best wishes to everyone getting in the winter training in preparation for an awesome 2017 season!
I have put together a short video showcasing my riding equipment for the 2017 racing season. This video highlights my favorite bikes, the Fuji Norcom Straight and Transonic SL. I have been a Fuji athlete since 2010 and have been a sponsored athlete of Zipp, Rudy Project, ISM, and Sampson for ten years. SRAM , Quarq, and Speedfil have been a partner of mine for the last couple of years. I am looking forward to kicking off the 2017 season later this year!
Last Friday, I had the honor of being a part of the St. Louis Regional Ice Bucket Challenge event in downtown St. Louis. I was up on stage with five other local “celebrities” and each person had a goal to raise $10,000, while up on stage. After the bidding was over, each person was “dunked”! All the proceeds were given 100% to ALS research and funding. I was very honored to help raise $10,500. My Dad contributed the final bid to “dunk” me and he enjoyed giving me a slow, freezing soak!
ALS is such a devastating and tough disease for the patient and the entire family. It’s special to be able to be part of something fighting for this disease to give patients and family members hope for continued research and funding.
Each celebrity included a special perk to their bidding, while up on stage for a special “$1,000 bid. I offered a training day with me along with triathlon gear included in the package. Thanks to all my sponsors taking part and supporting this great fight! I look forward to participating in this special training day and will follow up with pictures and details post event.
Here is a video of the dunk….and it was ice cold!