My Fitness Journey
After spending 2016 either pregnant or recovering from the birth, a goal to get back into fitness was much needed. Being active and pushing myself is something I really enjoy. However I knew this was going to be a fitness journey like no other.
I was once a keen runner, however after a long term knee injury long distance running isn’t an option. Therefore when I came across the SUPBikeRun off-road triathlon, I knew it was something I could aim for. I love paddle boarding and running as well as exploring new places away from the public footpath. The distances seemed achievable too, with the sup being 3k, the bike 15k and the run 5k.
Facing the challenge
Making the decision to sign up to the triathlon was the easy part. Training for the event was definitely a challenging fitness journey of ups and downs. To begin with, issues such as stress incontinence after the birth made it impossible to run without needing the toilet. During pregnancy my abdominal muscles had split which made my core very weak and vulnerable. To top it off my baby only wanted to be breastfed, giving me very small windows to train.
Mounting biking is a new sport to me and early into the training I had a fall. Although i was only left with a few cuts and bruises, the crash knocked my confidence. Pretty challenging being as the mounting biking is the longest part of the triathlon.
The week during the run up to the triathlon I came down with a bad flu. Unfortunately I also had terrible neck and back pain every time I walked. This was another issue I faced throughout my training. Probably as a result of lifting my baby and sleeping in ridiculous positions due to her sleeping in our bed.
Training for the SUPBikeRun Triathlon
This fitness journey hasn’t been filled with ridged timetables and crazy distances to cover. However I found the following helped me:
I couldn’t believe how weak and fragile I felt the first time I stepped onto my yoga mat. I had kept up a good level of fitness throughout the pregnancy. Attending regular yoga classes and paddle boarding right up until the 40 weeks. However I felt ridiculously frail. I could barely do a press-up on my knees. I was also fully aware that my abdominal muscles had split.
Road to recovery:
My first step was to see a postnatal physiotherapist. She gave me some really gentle exercises to help the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles get stronger.
After 12 weeks of very gentle exercise and walking I decided to up my training. As well as going back to my regular yoga classes, I started attending fitness classes at Ka Pow Fitness twice a week. Once I got into the flow I couldn’t believe how quickly my strength came back. Karen the owner of Ka Pow, has been instrumental to helping me get stronger during this fitness journey.
Core fitness is so important. It has also positively impacted other sports such as running, biking, paddle boarding and surfing.
I have been practicing yoga for a few years. However circuit training feels like a whole new level of core fitness.
I can honestly say I feel the strongest I have ever felt.
As previously mentioned I didn’t have a vigorous training routine or plan. It’s pretty tricky to do that with a tiny baby. However I worked on a good mix of the triathlon activities as well as core fitness planned in. During a good week I would get in a couple of bike rides, runs and maybe a paddle board.
I found that to keep up the momentum and motivation it’s important to plan the week ahead.
Sometimes it’s so easy to procastinate or talk yourself out of training. However seeing it written down on a blackboard made it feel confirmed and final, almost like a guilt trip.
I found nutrition really difficult during my fitness journey. For a start, I can’t believe how hungry breastfeeding makes me. This combined with training makes it difficult to keep up energy levels and stay full throughout the day. In the past I have always eaten well and enjoy making delicious and healthy food. However it is much more difficult to find the time to do this with a small baby. The only way around this was to plan my meals and snacks in advance. For example making sure I have frozen fruit in the freezer ready for a smoothie etc.
The week leading to the event it was disappointing that I felt so unwell. I was hoping to feel on top of my game, but instead I felt rotten with flu.
I decided to cram as much superfood into my meals as possible, which seemed to have worked.
My food diary before the event was as follows:
- Breakfast – Porridge, bananas, honey, maca powder and peanut butter
- Lunch – Homemade tuna fishcake and salad
- Dinner – Pasta with homemade light sauce
- Snacks – Acai smoothie and beetroot latte
- Breakfast – Avocado and eggs on sourdough toast
- Lunch – Baked potato and tuna salad
- Dinner – Beetroot risotto
- Snacks – Flapjack and banana
Sunday Race Day – Start 10am:
- Breakfast (6:30am) – Supergreen smoothie (Avocado, banana, blueberry, spinach, peanut butter, date and spiralina)
- Brunch (9am) – Porridge, bananas, honey, maca powder and peanut butter
- Snacks – Flapjack and banana
I have a love and hate relationship with exercise. I feel like I must be pretty normal to honestly say there are times I hate it. Biking up long, sluggish hills can feel like hell. Not being able to walk up stairs after 200 squats is torture. However there are also times where it feels really really good. I must be addicted to the way it makes me feel.
You can never say that you regret a training session, however you will always regret missing one.
The most important thing is to try and enjoy it and have fun. Mix up your training as much as possible so it doesn’t become repetitive and monotonous. You can do this by changing locations. For example there were times where I trained in a friends garage or on the beach.
If you are finding one particular type of exercise boring then take a break from it and do something else.
In the end I got through it. I DID IT. I completed my first off-road triathlon and loved every minute. On the day all the training clearly helped. However it’s also mind over matter sometimes and anything is possible if you put your mind to it. It turns out I came 33rd out of 80 women. This has now given me the motivation to try again next year and go for top 10.