New Year. New mum. New normal!
2nd Jan 2019
Having a baby must be one of the most life-changing things we can ever do! Besides the overwhelming responsibility...
...Now getting an unbroken night's sleep, or being able to drink a cup of tea before it goes cold are things of the past! And as for sitting down to write a whole blog about my sport… :-D
Hence it's been a while since I posted – so let's get straight to the most interesting bits!!
Torben is now 4 months old, and I have been enjoying getting back to fitness with no pressure. Since November I have taken part in 2 MTB events and one cross-country run, and although I wouldn't call these 'racing' I have surprised myself by finishing fairly well up the field each time!
I put this down to pre-pregnancy fitness, as I have not done any structured training, measured any times, distances or speeds, nor set any goals – I don't want to risk injury by feeling I have to meet a fixed timescale or target. I have literally just done what I enjoyed or what I had time for each day. Sometimes this is nothing more than a few core or pelvic floor exercises, especially if we have had a sleepless night.
I'll be honest, pregnancy was a chore and I couldn't wait to welcome Torben into the world! Finally, we got to enjoy all the cute parent things we've hoped to do for 3 years, like seeing his first smile, taking him swimming for the first time, introducing him to Beaker and watching them interact – too sweet!
But it has also been great getting back towards my own (sporting) normal. I always hoped to come back to racing, and not being able to for a whole year has only confirmed how much I missed it!
Having Torben at races which I'm doing just for fun, somehow beats being 100% race fit and winning things but alone… but my favourite moment so far has been the best of both - a surprise podium at the Gorrick brass monkeys Enduro with Torben watching me :-D
I used to approach these events super prepared – foam rolling and stretching at home, ride a lap to recce the course, consume my beetroot / green tea / porridge / coffee all at correct times, practicing my whole race routine! This time my warm-up consisted of feeding Torben in the van before the start, then 10 minutes to spin my legs and use the bathroom. I got to the start realizing I had forgotten my number and had to rush back to the van. I was still adjusting tyre pressure on the line when the gun went! Not exactly podium preparation, although once I'm in the zone, of course I will do my best ;)
My plan to get back to fitness didn't get off to the best start, since Torben was born via C-section (due to breech position). Major abdominal surgery meant I was not allowed to drive for 6 weeks, nor lift anything heavier than the baby, let alone do strenuous exercise. At first, all I was allowed to do or felt like doing, was core exercise and walking. Shuffling at first, and gradually getting fast enough to take the dog!
After 6 weeks I could try adding in other light exercise – 5 minutes on the turbo or 5 minutes of swimming, which seems hardly worth getting changed for! But by adding 5 more minutes each time, it was only a few weeks before the exercise started to feel worthwhile again.
I also began post-natal pilates classes at One Physio which were great as I could bring Torben along too. If I was lucky he slept, but otherwise Katie or Jess were happy to pick him up and settle him while instructing the class :-D
The main sticking point has been running. I waited over 2 months to even try jogging – this was to allow abdominal separation to close, and core strength to build enough so I didn't get injured. My first 'run' was less than 1km and took nearly 10 minutes! But soon I was up to doing 20-30 minutes with the dog, and after a month I even did a cross country 'race' (hardest thing I have done in a year!) Mostly it was for the social side of running with TVT again, plus the appeal of a finish line buffet!
But I was mindful that my core and ligaments are not as strong as they were pre-pregnancy and never will be while I am feeding Torben. So on the advice of my physio, Pete, I've decided not to push my luck with running, and leave it on the back burner for now.
I have enjoyed the challenge of working out what exercise I can do around looking after a baby. So far this has included turbo sessions in the garage while Torben is asleep; physio and pilates sessions which I always bring him along to. Sometimes I have had to multitask breastfeeding him while getting physio treatment! But it's better than wasting the appointment.
I do my core exercises at home most days, and have managed occasional gym sessions or running on the treadmill with Torben in the car seat next to me! But if he cries and needs feeding or changing, obviously I will stop as I have to put his needs first. Sometimes I can carry on with the session once I have sorted him out, but there is no point forcing it if he is not happy.
Anything I can't do with a baby in tow – swimming or mountain biking for example – has to wait until evenings or weekends when Simon can help out!
I have just reached the point where I feel ready to have a training program again – I have missed ticking those sessions off in TrainingPeaks!
I am looking forward to getting together soon with Mark at IntelliTri and coming up with a plan! Only once we see where things are going will I decide on any races that I might like to do. Again I am not going to put myself under pressure to come back too soon and get injured. But I secretly hope I may be up to racing an Xterra or two this season with Torben in tow… watch this space!
Design © 2019 Louise Fox. Photography © Lukasz Warzecha