11 months to the day after i gave birth to Sophia and life is more busy than it has ever been.
As highlighted in my last two blogs early motherhood can be a really tough time. Certainly I felt completely unprepared for the endless sleepless nights, the working out baby's needs/feeding/understanding cries and just how much mess and work a little one can create. Not to mention the endless hours i spent attached to a breast pump in and effort to give Sophia the best start she could. Those mum's who single handedly keep a tidy/ordered home amidst such - i'd like to study how your brain works ;)
I had all these grand plans post pregnancy - i wanted to run x number of half marathons, The London marathon and qualify for The Ironman World Championships and compete in Kona this year.
It slowly dawned on me that training for such, whilst working full time and living as a single mum all week would be very difficult and something would have to give - it most probably would be my health - and the time which i had with Sophia would be precious little. I have glanced into the world of busy age-groupers who work, run a family and attempt multiple ironman/70.3's in a year. It is a far journey from the life of a pro athlete which is centred around training, nutrition and rest. I remember Brett Sutton telling us - keep it simple - i keep you as a team in the mountains (Leysin, Switzerland) to prevent distractions. I commonly see amateur athletes through our Curoseven business whom have the blood data suggesting overtraining, yet they say - I only train 7 hours a week - but the stress in the rest of their life and inadequate sleep mean that the body runs down much more quickly. In some this occurs in months - in others it takes years - but it will happen if you don't track your health and listen to your body - and employ damage limitation strategies.
I've largely replaced the notion of training - with movement and exercise. I have yet to use a heart rate monitor let alone a power meter on my bike. My only metric is pace on the run, but as far as to prescribed sessions - thats a no - i go by feel - using a mix of key sessions i have learnt in the past from coaches. Largely because i've spent years living up to pace metrics and mentally i feel that i don't need to be punishing myself just yet - my physiology is stressed in other ways being a mum, working full time and developing a business.
The only time I get to train is lunch time at work - so that is either a run (mostly) or turbo session with the odd kettlebell session thrown in (which has remarkably helped my strength/physique). Interestingly my running is probably as good as its ever been - i'm lacking a bit of strength endurance (given that i rarely run more than an hour) but from a cardiovascular standpoint post pregnancy i feel pretty fit. My weight is exactly how it was when i was a pro athlete - despite only spending around 7hrs a week exercising at most. I don't diet, generally follow a HFL(ower)C diet (with wine and chocolate thrown in ;)
My Kona qualification goal (AG) has gone out of the window this year - i know how hard ironman is - and attempting to get round Ironman Nice in a sub 10 hour time - whilst feasible - will hurt and will require sacrifices - like 5.30am or late night turbo sessions, and whilst i could do this, having worked hard as an athlete for a number of years, i am not ready to step back into the daily pain cave just yet, especially as i need my brain working well - and as an endurance athlete - I often felt my brain went to sleep to allow my muscles to keep on working. I often had difficultly stringing a sentence together on training camps between sessions.
Frequently get asked about buggy running - but its something that i don't do much of, unless as a last resort. The running buggy i inherited is a little rusty and as Sophia gets heavier the dynamics of running with the buggy isn't really benefiting my running. I prefer to get my runs done when Sophia is with my mum/her Dad or our part-time nanny - and then we go for walks with some squats and lunges with her in the baby carrier (I use this one as it has a little seat and takes pressure of the back).
In fact I can't remember the last time Sophia went in the pram with me. She likes to be at adult height interacting and socialising whilst looking down at and getting excited by passing dogs!
In January feeling the weather blues and grey skies, i planned a trip to Club La Santa with my mum and Sophia and a couple of friends.
I used to spend weeks here at a time sharing an apartment with two other Danish athletes - in order to get some early season training miles in. I felt very blessed to have been able to have this time but know now life will never be the same as other priorities have emerged.
For those of you who haven't been the facilities are incredible - even more so now following their recent addition of two new 50m pools, an expanded bike centre, mini golf, outdoor aerobics stadium and new stunning sea view properties decorated in sleek and sophisticated Danish minimalism.
I discovered a love for swimming again as will happen when you have such vast expanses of clear water in front of you and the sun on your skin. Since my return swimming in the chlorine bath at Virgin Active just isn't cutting it. I didn't look at the pace clock once - just enjoyed swimming for swimming sake - and attempting to gain back some of that elusive 'feel'. A couple of athletes asked me at various times what i was training for - and i smiled and said - The London Marathon. I guess even when swimming easy i will always have that intensity around my stroke. (Thanks @trisutto)
It was fantastic to get out on the bike - and climb the old haunts of Tabayesco and Mirador Del Rio. I was slightly over-enthusiastic one day and went out with a couple of pro's and suffered intently for the last hour. I remember quite vividly how it felt to be really fit and to be able to ride away from people on climbs. I didn't have that capacity this time round - but i had made peace with it - and slogged away - content with my effort given sum total of hours on the bike in this week exceeded hours in past 3 months!
The running was as it always is in Lanza - push and pull - windy but glorious rough sea views and volcanic landscapes.
Sophia unfortunately caught a cold on the way over on the plane and struggled to sleep at all for more than an hour at a stretch at night so mum and i were a little ragged by the end of the week - however, being able to soak up some sun (and plentiful morning cafe con leches) worked marvels. Sophia really enjoyed the social aspect of La Santa and watching all the movements of exercising folks. Given she is such an active little bundle already it was amazing to see her smiling at everyone as they jumped, swam, biked and ran around.
If you've been to Club la santa before and are thinking of returning - booking one of the new sea-view properties (if you can get one as a they sell out fast)... is a must. They are simply stunning, in a quieter location and next to a brand new restaurant, complete with its own mini-turtle swimming pool ;) The facilities for children (which I have never observed before! are superb) Sophia went to playtime daily and sat and picked at finger food during breakfast and dinner buffet times.
One week seemed like a lot of longer in terms of how mentally rejuvenated I felt on return.
So I may not be winning triathlons this year - but i'll be content with a sub 3hour marathon at The London Marathon in April. Now if I can do that averaging 3 runs a week, 50km (and a few kettlebell squats) i'll be a happy bunny.