When I got pregnant, one of the questions I posed myself was if I could continue my triathlon training and how I could adapt it. After doing some research, I found a way that worked perfectly for me, and even though I am not at all a doctor or a trainer, I wanted to share my experience with you. I hope this article answers some of your questions about triathlon training during pregnancy.
From the moment I found out that I was pregnant, I wanted to do everything possible to have a healthy and joyful pregnancy and do what is best for the growing baby. I was also happy to hear that with some consideration, I could safely continue my triathlon training. In this article, I am talking about my personal experience and the benefits of sports during pregnancy.
ADVANTAGES OF CONTINUING TRAINING DURING PREGNANCY
In the past, it was often said that women should try to rest as much as possible and avoid any kind of physical activity during pregnancy. Only recently, there have been studies that there are actually several advantages of pursuing an active lifestyle also during pregnancy.
Based on the research from Hinman and Smith (Exercise in pregnancy, a clinical review), physical activity is safe for the woman and the developing fetus. Another benefit of continuing sports is that it can help manage weight gain during pregnancy and may even shorten labor duration. The named article also mentions that among physically active women, lower glucose levels were found on the 24- to 28-week oral glucose tolerance test compared to non-active pregnant women.
At my first check-up at the gynecologist, I was told that I could continue doing sports. Personally, I would really recommend getting your doctor’s approval before continuing training. Every pregnancy is different, and your doctor can give you his honest opinion. I felt well throughout my pregnancy, and therefore, I was happy that I could pursue my active lifestyle. The training helped me to keep a decent level of fitness.
HOW SHOULD I ADAPT MY TRAINING DURING PREGNANCY?
Theoretically, you can continue doing the three sports. Swimming feels particularly good as you won’t feel the additional weight that much. Running is also still possible – of course, always depending on how you feel. Personally, the further my pregnancy was evolving, the more I altered my runs with short breaks of walking. I also stopped biking – for me, the risk of falling or injuring myself was just not worth it. Concerning weight training, I tried to avoid exercises that require lying on the back or stomach. I also stuck to lighter weights and simply did more repetitions.
CAN I STILL DO HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING DURING MY PREGNANCY?
In general, there aren’t many studies that analyze the effects of high-intensity training on pregnant women and their babies. What is proven is that while training at high-intensity, the blood flow to the uterus is decreased, and your baby gets less oxygen.
An evidence summary done by Bo et al. (Exercise and pregnancy) suggests training mainly at 60-70% of your VO2max, so at moderate intensity. For example, for your run training, you could stick to the rule of only running at a speed that still allows you to talk to your running partner.
CAN I PARTICIPATE IN TRIATHLON RACES DURING MY PREGNANCY?
Officially, no rule prevents you from participating in triathlon races while being pregnant. It might even happen that you take part in a race without knowing yet that you are expecting (speaking out of experience – I raced in Erding at the really beginning of my pregnancy).
However, you should consider that triathlon races can be a bit dangerous – just think about a swim mass start where you might receive some kicks. Of course, the risk of going harder than what is actually good for you is also there.
HOW ARE THE PRO TRIATHLETES DEALING WITH PREGNANCY?
As a professional athlete, you can still continue your training while being pregnant. An impressive example is the pro triathlete, Jocelyn McCauley. Only a week before her daughter was born, she still did a 13-mile run. In a podcast by Scientific Triathlon, she explained how she continued running and biking throughout all her pregnancy. Have a look at the episode here.