Now that you know Ironman isn’t the hardest thing you will ever do it’s time to start thinking about getting back on the wagon after giving birth. Some people train right up to the week before and are right back at it as soon as possible but for many of us (myself included) it will take a while to adjust to the differences in your body, the lack of sleep, the lack of time, and the recovery that you will need after having a baby. Here are some tips that can help both physically and mentally get back into training after having your first baby.
Recovery. You must make sure to fully recover after childbirth. Take as much time as you need and your doctor’s advice about when to start a training program again. When you do get back out there start easy. Start out with just walking for a while as you may get winded easily for the first few weeks. This is a great way to relax while your baby is napping in the stroller (fingers crossed).
Time management. This is tough as you never really have a schedule now, at least not one that stays for more than a few weeks. You need to get in workouts when you can which may be early before anyone wakes up or maybe even after your baby’s bedtime. A good coach will help you with your new schedule and help you to readjust your workouts when your new busy life throws you a few curve balls. One of the best ways to get in your workouts is to get a jogging stroller which is discussed next.
Get a good jogging stroller. There are a few good brands out there but in my opinion the Chariot is the best stroller on the market for the multisport athlete. You can jog or bike with it but you can also get attachments which enable you to XC ski and hike with it. They can easily be found on Kijiji or Craigslist practically new or it’s a great group gift for family and/or friends to get together and buy for you as a shower gift. The baby can go in the stroller at about 6 months or when they can hold their head up on their own. This frees you up to do your workout when you want in the day because you can take your little guy with you.
Don’t worry about missed workouts. It’s going to happen, as much as you try and plan you are now at the mercy of someone else’s schedule and theirs may not always coincide with yours and generally theirs wins. Don’t get stressed out about it, just get back on the horse the next day. Your coach will help you with making sure you get your key workouts in if you’ve missed them and will place them during the appropriate times on the schedule even if they have to be rearranged.
Sign up for an event. It is always good to have a goal to motivate you. There are even some running events that let you run with a stroller.
Start a mommy’s group. There will be a lot of women in the same boat as you wanting to get back into shape after having a baby. Start a swim group in the evening, many local pools rent out lanes and it’s easy to hire a lifeguard. Or you could get a run group started for mommies with strollers. Once you start meeting other mom’s you will find it easy to get some people together and everyone will understand if you run late or have to stop for a second to give a bottle or calm a fussy baby, it’s just how it is now!
Alternate years with your spouse. It can be tricky if both you and your spouse are avid endurance athletes and both still really want to race. Some couples alternate years of serious racing. One spouse trains more seriously one year for an Ironman or a season of short course racing and then the other gets to do the same the next year. This may come after your kid(s) are a little older but this can work really well for some couples.
Having kids changes many things in your life but the best thing you can give your child is a positive role model for health and fitness. Hopefully when they are old enough they will want to be just like mommy and daddy and participate. Many races offer kid friendly events and there is no better way for a family to bond than through getting involved in a sporting community like triathlon.
LifeSport triathlon coach Jessica Adam has been a coach in Victoria, Vancouver and now resides in the Toronto area. She loves to share her years of experience with beginner triathletes and also experienced triathletes that are trying new distances like ½ IM or IM for the first time. She coaches athletes online all across the country.
If you are interested in working with Jess, write Jess@LifeSportCoaching.com