Three and a Half Months In….



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Time for writing a blog has become very scarce these days; however, this afternoon Connor happens to be taking a longer nap and Caroline went to the waterpark with her cousins.  Being a family of four adds so much joy.  It’s fun having a baby again in the house and it’s a wonderful gift for Caroline to have a sibling (although it may have taken her a couple of months to adjust to being a big sister).

What has my training schedule looked like the past couple of months?

Connor is now old enough to be in the infant room at the gym for two hours, so that allows some additional flexibility in getting in training at the gym and a possible swim workout with Nate.  Training solo most of the time is tough, so it is nice to have that time to train with him.

 

I am finally starting to feel like my body is returning back to it’s normal self (with the exception of making milk).  After my second pregnancy, it felt like my uterus took longer to shrink back to normal.  As I mentioned in the previous blog when I started back up with running at five weeks, I felt terrible.  My core felt very loose and I felt disconnected.  Over the next few weeks, I started to feel better.  However, at the beginning of July, I twisted my back funny and had to take three weeks off running.   The course of getting back in shape has been slightly bumpy, but I am always navigating uncharted territory and learning along the way.  This time around when I resumed running a few of weeks ago, my core and hip strength felt much better than when I started five weeks postpartum. I am slowly easing back into mileage; however, I do have a race in less than three weeks!   With that thought in the back of my head; I have to have a different mindset for my first race back and I look at it as more of a stepping stone.  I know that I won’t  be back to 100% race fitness until the end of the year (or whenever that time arrives?!)  I have been able to consistently swim and cycle now for about two months and I feel that my fitness is improving well in all three disciplines.  I have not had as much time yet in the running discipline (I have only been running for about two of the last six months), but it is great to see progress each week.

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So what does a typical training day look like?

Connor has been sleeping great the past month and both him and his sister go to bed around 9PM.  I try to go to sleep shortly after the kids as I am exhausted by the end of the day!  Connor sometimes wakes up around 5:30-5:45AM, but some mornings he sleeps until 7 or 7:30AM!  It helps that he is 18 pounds and can handle more milk at once.  Once the kids are up, fed and dressed; we usually head to the gym around 8:30AM.  I usually get in a swim/strength session from 9-11AM and then we have lunch and play at the pool for a few hours.  After we get home and unwind for a bit, Dad (Nate) or Grandma (my Mom) help to watch Caroline and Connor for an hour or two in the afternoon while I do a ride or a run.  After that it’s playing at the park or swimming at the neighborhood pool until dinner, bath, watching part of a Disney movie, bed time snack, book reading in bed, and nursing the baby….and then time for me to shower and sleep!

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Twice a week, my Mom watches the kids so that I can ride outside for my quality rides.  The past few months have really been a balancing and juggling act trying to fit it all in, but the reality is that it can be done.  Flexibility helps in navigating workouts and I often create my workouts minutes before doing them depending on how I feel at that moment and how much time I have to get in my training before my baby will be hungry.  As Connor gets older, I will have a little more structure in my training.

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How am I progressing my running with a race in a few weeks?

After Caroline, I focused on core strength.  I began doing a Pilates class 2x a week.  I found this has really helped me after both pregnancies and has helped me get back to running with more of a solid foundation.  I am again focusing on treating Pilates class with as much importance as a swim, bike or run workout.

In addition, all my easy runs are uphill on the treadmill.  I have found that running hard on the treadmill has been too much risk for injury as my joints and ligaments are not ready and it’s too much risk to be pushed too soon.  While running outside, I typically try to run at a moderate pace, focusing on good mechanics, with 1k-2 mile stretches with 1-2 min walks between.  I feel like I get much more out of this style of running verses running long and slow.  When I run slow, I feel like my mechanics and form are worse, so I am trying to keep workouts as efficient and effective as possible.  I am saving my slow, easy runs for the treadmill (usually 3-7% grade at 6.5-7mph).  The uphill running on the treadmill, also forces me to activate my glutes.

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Why am I racing four months after giving birth?

I always wanted to have another baby after Caroline.  I knew that I wanted more than one child, but I also wanted to try to not take a full year off of work and instead have two partial years of work.  Last year, I worked (raced) until July and this year I will be able to work (race) for the last quarter of the year.  With that being said, I love racing and knowing that I have an upcoming race approaching excites me and motives me in my training.  As I mentioned earlier, I am not expecting to be at 100% fitness, but I am using each race as a great way to gain fitness and race before the winter off- season approaches.

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GLUKOS Breakfast Smoothie



Every morning I make a breakfast smoothie for my family.  My four year old daughter can not wait to drink her smoothie in the morning.  She wakes up excited to drink this healthy concoction on a daily basis.  Recently smoothies have been getting a bad wrap in the media due to the amount of sugar that can be packed inside of them.  However, you can make them extremely healthy and packed full of nutrients.  The smoothies are a great balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.

The smoothie ingredients are:

50 grams of Natural PB

50 grams GLUKOS Protein Powder

15 grams Flax Seed

50 grams Frozen Spinach

100 grams Frozen Banana

200 grams Frozen Blueberries

50 grams of Carrots

800 grams of Water

The amount per serving are as follows, 40% Fat, 37.5% Carbs, 22.5% Protein

Serving Size Calories Fat Carb Protein Dietary Fiber Sugar
450 Grams 257 11.68 23.92 14.12 5.814 11.64
450 Grams 257 11.68 23.92 14.12 5.814 11.64
365 Grams 208.65 9.47 19.4 11.45 4.716 9.44

 

 

New Partnership with Groove Life



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I am excited to announce a new partnership with Groove Life.  Groove Life is the exclusive maker of Active, Silicone Wedding Bands that Breathe.  I love my Groove Life rings. They are stylish and super comfortable.  My husband and I wear our Groove Life rings 90% of the time.  As a professional triathlete, I am constantly removing my wedding band with diamonds while swimming, cycling and strength training.  I was also scratching my son with my wedding band while nursing. When I removed the band, I was usually placing it in the cup holder of the car, in the gym locker, gym bag, on the counter at home; wherever it was convenient.  I was always worried about losing the band.  Now my band is in a safe place and I put it on for special occasions. I recommend this product to anyone that lives an active lifestyle.  I am now able to train, race and travel comfortably in a wedding band!

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Thanks to Groove Life for the awesome rings and new partnership.

 

Six Weeks Postpartum Update



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Connor has been in this world for almost six weeks now and it’s hard to imagine a life without him!  The first month was definitely an adjustment, especially for his big sister, but our family is now beginning to get into a routine.

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Rewind to April 24th and I was headed to the hospital that evening for an induction.  I was not induced with Caroline, so it was a little different feeling this time heading to the hospital and not knowing what to expect.  I didn’t know if he would be born that night or the following day.  It was advised for me to get an induction with Connor because PVC’s were heard in utero, which basically means that his heart rate was irregular.  I was assured that this occurrence clears up shortly after birth and we were very happy that Connor was indeed born healthy.  He weighed an entire pound bigger than Caroline at 8 lbs 3 oz. (and he was born on his due date, Caroline was one week late!).  The later part of labor was a bit more challenging verses having Caroline due to his sideways position in my birth canal and him having a “big” head (at least that is what the nurses were telling me at the end of labor).   I had to really work hard during the pushing phase of labor and it really did feel like an athletic event.  I was also exhausted by the time I got to the end of labor because I did not sleep more than five minutes that entire night before.  I was supposed to try and sleep while getting induced, but with two different IVs and monitors around my waist, constant beeping and the anticipation of labor…sleep was not happening for me!

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All the hard work was more than worth it when I got to meet Connor!  Our top two names were Henry and Connor, but ultimately decided on Connor just a few minutes after he was born.  Connor began eating well from the get go and has continued to feed great!  Just like his sister, he is on track to double his birth weight soon!  I love all the chubby rolls he is accumulating all over his little body.  It’s fun to track newborns progression.  Last week he learned to roll from front to back and he started starring intently into our eyes!

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I was very sore the first few days after labor, but three days after giving birth I was surprised how much better I was feeling.  I could sit and stand without pain, which was important coming home with a baby and a three year old!  The hardest part the first month after a baby is sleep deprivation.  This time around I also had to learn to balance the needs of a baby and a little girl.  Caroline has really adjusted well to having a baby brother and she is very sweet with him.

 

When I returned home from the hospital, I was going on adrenaline.  I feel like the adrenaline rush lasted for about a week and then fatigue hit me hard.  The first couple of weeks I tried to take nap every day, if possible.  Caroline still had preschool the first three weeks after Connor was born, so I was able to get in a little more rest.  Newborns are required to eat every two to three hours around the clock the first two weeks.  Fortunately, most nights Connor does a pretty good job about going back to bed after his feedings, so that helps tremendously.  After two weeks, Connor could go longer stretches at night (four hours, if he lets me!).  He does not have a set sleep schedule but he usually goes to bed around 10pm and sleeps until 1:30 or 2AM to nurse.  He goes back down around 2:45 and then wakes again around 5AM to nurse.  On a good night he is up twice and on a rough night he is up three times a night.

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Nate sleeps in another room so that he can get solid, uninterrupted sleep.  We decided that there was not a point in us both being exhausted.  At 5AM, I hand off Connor to Nate and that way I go back to bed for another two hours of sleep (unless Caroline wakes me before then!).  It is advised now that baby’s sleep in your room for the first year as this has shown to reduce SIDS.  It is nice to have Connor right next to me in a bassinet; although sometimes it is hard to sleep soundly because newborns are noisy when they sleep!  Connor is such a chill baby, he doesn’t cry much but when he starts to get hungry in the middle of the night he starts grunting and stirring in his sleep.  This noise usually wakes me before he is fussing loudly.  One thing I noticed is with my second child is that I am much more used to interrupted sleep.  My body does not seem to be as phased by this process.

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So, what does training look like with this schedule?  Most literature says to wait six weeks before beginning an exercise program, but my doctor is ok with my starting as soon as I feel ok.  I waited about three weeks to begin swimming and cycling.  I waited just under five weeks before I began running.  Currently swimming and cycling are progressing.  Most of my workouts are short due to nursing every couple of hours.  Next month, I will begin pumping so that I can extend a few workouts a little longer without taking nursing breaks.  Connor can drink a bottle that Nate will give him that I pumped prior to the workout.

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My first run back felt awful.  I felt extremely disconnected and I felt like my lower abdominals were extremely weak.  I have completed three 5k runs so far and each run has felt much better; however, I feel like I have a long way to go!  For now I am avoiding running two days in a row as I notice the pelvic floor is needs a little more recovery between my runs.  With my second pregnancy, I felt my abdominals stretched much more and I had a bigger baby due to the fact that it was my second pregnancy.

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A huge part of my exercise depends on how much sleep I got the night before.  Even though my sleep is chunked up in 1-4 hour segments throughout the night, I notice that as long as I get 7.5 hours of divided sleep I feel good enough to train around two-three hours the following day.  If I get around 6-7, I feel functional and pretty good to workout an hour or two.  If I get less than six hours I feel pretty exhausted and may just move my body easy for about 45 minutes or take a nap!

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When I began swim training, I was wearing the suits that I wore in the middle of my pregnancy.  They were very stretched out and I felt like I was swimming with a bucket down the front of my suit.  Whether I am swimming, cycling and especially running, I need much more support for my chest.  Nursing changes my top from a size A to a size C, so this is quite an adjustment for me.  I need a very tight suit while swimming for support and to reduce drag.  I also need a very supportive sports bra while running. In addition, I find that it is best to pump or nurse just before a run workout to help be more comfortable while running.

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A few days I have felt great getting back into working out; while other days have been really tough.  At times I feel overwhelmed thinking about all the hard work ahead to return back to race fitness.  When I begin to feel this way, I think about focusing on one day at a time and focus on making small improvements each day.
I am also trying to soak up all the amazing moments with our little boy (and Caroline). It is true that babies change every day and we try to capture the special moments through pictures and video so that we can look back in a few years when we are past the baby stage.  I do have a goal to race towards the end of the summer, so I will announce a race schedule soon.

Best regards,

Sarah

 

Just a Few More Weeks…



8 WEEKS ON THE LEFT 37 WEEKS ON THE RIGHT

10 WEEKS                                VS                                       37 WEEKS

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.

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STAIR CLIMBING AT 28 WEEKS

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. IMG_4351

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.
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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.

 

 

 

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