Train­ing for Two

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Training Feature -

For many triath­letes, life re­volves around ex­er­cis­ing and train­ing for peak per­for­mance. So it comes as no sur­prise that the av­er­age preg­nant triath­lete wants to ex­er­cise more than the av­er­age preg­nant woman. Yet find­ing in­for­ma­tion that speaks to just how much one can safely ex­er­cise with­out putting mom or baby at risk can be chal­leng­ing. In­for­ma­tion is hard to find, out­dated or tai­lored to the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

There are var­i­ous guide­lines that speak to the rec­om­mended amount of ex­er­cise for preg­nant women. The Society of Ob­ste­tri­cians and Gy­nae­col­o­gists of Canada ( sogc) and the Cana­dian Society for Ex­er­cise Phys­i­ol­ogy ( csep) rec­om­mend ex­er­cis­ing three to four times per week for 15 to 30 min­utes ( plus a warm-up and cool down) while stay­ing within the rec­om­mended heart rate tar­get zones. They also rec­om­mend us­ing the Talk Test (en­sur­ing that one can carry on a light con­ver­sa­tion) and the Rate of Per­ceived Ex­er­tion (not ex­er­cis­ing be­yond “com­fort­able hard”) to mon­i­tor an ap­pro­pri­ate in­ten­sity.

Although such guide­lines may suf­fice for the more seden­tary woman or recre­ational ex­er­ciser, this may not be the case for the triath­lete ac­cus­tomed to a higher level of train­ing. Be­fore mak­ing any de­ci­sions about ex­er­cis­ing be­yond such guide­lines, how­ever, it must be noted that there is lit­tle re­search on the out­comes of women ex­er­cis­ing be­yond such pa­ram­e­ters. The ath­lete, her doc­tor and coach need to un­der­stand the as­so­ci­ated risks in­clud­ing over­heat­ing, de­hy­dra­tion and in­ad­e­quate blood sup­ply to the fe­tus, and take the nec­es­sary pre­cau­tions.

In light of the above, per­haps one of the best pieces of ad­vice for a preg­nant ath­lete (and her grow­ing baby) is to make it a pri­or­ity to lis­ten to her body. This also means ac­cept­ing the fact that she is no longer in con­trol of her body dur­ing this nine-month pe­riod.

“As ath­letes, we are ac­cus­tomed to be­ing able to con­trol how our bod­ies per­form and how our bod­ies look; preg­nancy is the one time where we need to let go of this con­trol,” says Sharon Don­nelly, four- time Cana­dian cham­pion, Olympic triath­lete and mother of two. “If we can do this, our preg­nancy will go much smoother.”

Heather Lowe, a two-time Iron­man fin­isher who was ac­cus­tomed to chal­leng­ing work­outs and push­ing her body to the limit, had to learn to ad­just men­tally and let her body take the driver’s seat.

“I found it very frus­trat­ing that de­spite my high mo­ti­va­tion to ex­er­cise, my body some­times had other plans,” Lowe says. “My frus­tra­tion less­ened once I de­cided to let my body win and gave my­self per­mis­sion to skip the work­out on such a day.”

Right top Al­li­son Chisholm with daugh­ter Anna at the 2005 Bala Triathlon in Bala, Ont. right bot­tom Wendy Chong, Belinda Bain and Carol Mcfarlane of race group See Mommy Tri at the 2012 Toronto Triathlon Fes­ti­val

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