Thursday, January 30, 2014

my baby is my pull buoy

It’s week 26 of 40 now, and I thought we could continue our 40-Week Training Plan blogs with a little bit on maternity workout gear. The inspiration for this blog comes out frustration with trying to find maternity workout clothes as an already tall and oversized woman prior to pregnancy, as well as a little epiphany I had during a swim last week—my baby is my pull buoy. 

If you know me as a triathlete and as a person, you know that that statement comes totally out of love for my unborn baby girl, so don’t stop reading this blog post quite yet. The added fat tissue during pregnancy, the added fluid retention, and the growing belly/bump can make you feel heavy and big and like doing anything but exercise. That’s why swimming is such a magical experience during pregnancy. I’ve always found the pool rejuvenating, and I’m not going to lie, swimming with a pregnant body is a little weird- I went from being a trim triathlete fish to a buoyant Santa Claus with stick arms. But, I will say this, who needs a pull buoy when you carry your very own right on your torso? I still use paddles occasionally to break up the monotony of swimming without doing speed intervals, and this kind of swimming I’m doing is nothing like Ironman workouts, but it’s exercise, it’s good for my joints, and it’s good for my baby, so I’ll take it. Read on for more maternity workout gear solutions.

Swim gear
I'm super in love with this maternitybathing suit from Mermaid Maternity. It was a little big at first, but it’s fitting better and better each day now (haha), and it has a drawstring to secure it over an early-second-trimester belly but still leaves room for later on. The top is comfortable and fashionable and keeps the boobs in place and covered. I do backstroke and freestyle in it without issues. I think I'll be swimming even more in the third trimester. 

Cycling gear (indoor for me) –
We already talked about how indoor cycling is a much wiser and safer choice during pregnancy because outdoor cycling risks falling, abdominal trauma, and miscarriage or pre-term labor. So I have been on the trainer if I have been doing any biking at all. So far my regular cycling shorts still fit if I wear the waist band under my bump. And since I bike at home, I don’t really care what I look like, so I just pick a shirt that’s comfortable to go on top. I haven’t needed other cycling gear, but one way to deal with issues is to buy bigger sizes of the same brands you find comfortable. Also, you may find that recombinant stationary bicycle is a better choice than up-right biking during pregnancy just because your legs are going to be hitting your abdomen the whole time otherwise. This has made me reluctant to get on the trainer recently. My tri set-up is just too forward-positioned and not comfortable anymore, and running and swimming feel like better workouts anyway. But if biking is your thing, try re-positioning your handlebars or try a recombinant.

Staying warm and covered - Run gear
The one good thing about pregnant running during the winter is that you don't need as much warm gear as you would think. Summer or winter, the danger of exercise during pregnancy is the difficulty of staying cool and staying hydrated. Whether you are exercising in -2 or 92 degrees, you don't want to get overheated. So, less is more, clothing wise. I was really frustrated when I first started getting big because my Under Armour cold gear running pants didn't fit. I've found that my non-compression pants are better for providing that extra stretch that you need during pregnancy, and I just wear them folded down under my bump/belly. I'm running (haha) out of cold gear and other shirts that cover my belly fully even during the bouncing of runs, but I have a feeling that I'll venture into my husband's half of the closet soon for longer workout shirts. It's hard when you're already tall with a longer torso, but so far it's working out.

Tops like this Adidas one are great. I bought something similar but can’t find it online. Dick’s Sporting Goods has a nice variety of tops that look a little longer, and if you go up a size, it’s just the right fit. 

For pants, if you don't want to stretch out your compression running pants or other fitted gear, you can try running in yoga pants. I've never had very good luck with this in the past, since the waist slides down as you jog/run and you end up pulling them up repeatedly, which doesn't help you focus on your run at all. But, good news, a bigger belly and buying actual maternity workout pants means having a higher waist with hopefully enough elastic stay up over your bump and keep your pants in place. Gap makes some great yoga pants that run long, which is nice for tall pregnant women like me

I could write a whole blog on this, but I won't :-P Finding a bra to accommodate growing boobs was super challenging as an athlete who never really had that much to worry about in that department. A few good ones that are out there are Moving ComfortFreya ActivePanache Sport. I'm still a huge fan of Under Armour, what can I say? This is my favorite. The front closure is handy since I find most of the back closure ones difficult to secure because all of these things are made to be compressive and tight. Also, once you start getting bigger everywhere, it's a lot harder to get dressed than it used to be, a back-closing bra can be really frustrating when you are already trying to get yourself motivated to go workout in the first place. If you like back closures, I recommend this one. But honestly, it takes a lot of trial and error to find what works for you. When in doubt, find something that's bigger so you can use the smaller hook closures and go farther out as you grow. Same goes for regular non-sport maternity bras.

With clothes that fit, you don’t have to worry much about this unless you are doing longer endurance workouts. Triathletes know all about the weird places that wet trisuits rub and bike shorts irritate and many marathoners have learned the value of those Vaseline sticks that they hand out mid-race. Sometimes it is getting the right fit, and sometimes it just means you keep some chamois butter or Vaseline handy for longer rides and races. But, for those who haven’t experienced or don’t expect such issues during pregnancy workouts, a little word to the warning, ladies—your thighs are going to start rubbing together more, if they aren’t already. It makes for a nasty rash by the end of a long run. I bet you never thought you would need Body Glide for a 5-or-more-miler, but I am starting to consider it! 

If my running pants were made perfectly for my maternity body and not my older pants that I am scrunching down under my belly, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it is, and it makes for burning skin by the end of a longer run. 7 miles yesterday and I didn’t want to put on pants after showering post-workout. Remember, now more than ever is the time to pay attention to moisturizing you skin. A hot shower feels great on achy muscles and especially when you come in from a really cold outdoor workout, but remember that super-hot showers dry out the skin even more during the winter time, so try to limit the amount of time you’re under the water and the amount of soap you use. Pat dry and apply emollients/moisturizers while the skin is still moist to lock in the moisture. Go fragrance-free, since you need to do that for your baby anyway, as baby skin is very sensitive and can even react to perfumes you wear on your body, not just the baby shampoos and lotions you buy. If you can’t find pants that fit, and if Body Glide doesn’t work, at least take care of your skin after your workouts :)

Rubbing issues and changes in anatomy are why running form changes to more of a widened stance with a waddle during pregnancy, but we will talk about that in the next blog post!

How are things going?
It's the last week of the second trimester. I am still intermittently exhausted and sleeping and resting when I can and feel like I need to. I just re-read this Runner's World Article- The Truth About Motherhood that I found a long time ago when we were trying to get pregnant but also plan our athletic endeavors (my husband and I are both Ironman triathletes). I know I'm pregnant and emotional now, but it brings tears to my eyes when I read the woman's email that Coach Jenny sites. I feel like I too am transitioning into a period where I am thinking more about being a mom and about my growing baby than I am about training. I really have been training for the health of my baby more so than my own this whole time but especially even more so now when training for my baby sometimes means--taking a nap. O:-) The triathlete in me wants to plan for a post-partum race, but the Ironmom inside me wants to be a good mom first and an Ironman second. I guess we will see what the future brings! I am hoping that above all it brings us a healthy baby girl :)

Some more helpful info