Sam Warriner Talks About Her Pregnancy
How a world #1 trains and plans for Junior!
A certain coach recently told me pregnancy would be the hardest thing I’d ever contemplate. I thought what the hell do you know – I’ve won an Ironman this baby business is going to be a sinch!
But as I later came to realise Doc didn’t mean the actual act of giving birth – he was talking about my desire to get back racing and therefore the need to retain some semblance of fitness during my 9 month sabbatical from the sport, and then there’s the whole issue of getting back racing with our first child in tow!
Well I’m almost ‘there’ - 34 ½ weeks and the countdown is into single figures. The ironic thing is that as I accumulate more training under Brett’s guidance - my racing fitness seems to get further and further away! Caroline has written about ‘The Reality Gap’ – well the gap between my reality and where my fitness once was…… is gigantic?!
I’m fighting with Brett all the time – as he says less is more but that’s just so foreign to me. Less is less and more is better in my eyes and that’s been the biggest mental shift to overcome.
All the time as I attempt to stay fit the Docs thoughts niggle away at me as I drag myself out of bed on a daily basis – don’t you just HATE it when someone is right…and it aint you! Less really is more.
In my past blogs I’ve talked about the Pyschological struggle I’ve been experiencing – but from a physiological perspective pregnancy has taught me many things about my own body and that of Junior’s too.
My little ‘Junior’ as we call him now, well to be frank he started out as a parasite that quickly stole the air from my lungs. He got his first taste of mums ‘lifestyle’ down in Taupo.
Starting the 21km run during The Kelloggs Nutrigrain Half Ironman back in December - I just couldn’t fathom how out of breath I felt! I’d built up a 5 minute lead on the bike over recent mother Gina Crawford and as I pushed at the beginning of the half marathon run all I could think to myself was ‘this will pass in a couple of KM – just work your way through it Sam’ all the while Junior was bouncing around inside me ,the size of a lentil – luckily our heart rates were in tune – both ticking over around 150 – 160 bpm.
Our family doctor is also the NZ Academy of Sport carded doctor for everywhere north of Auckland. We visitied him as soon as we knew I was Hapu (A New Zealand Maori word for having conceived).
My biggest fear was that as I trained baby would be starved of oxygen due to the demands of exercising. Geoff quickly put my mind at rest that this just isn’t the case. Your body will ALWAYS put baby first and Junior was getting all the oxygen rich red blood he needed.
However this has been a common concern of mine throughout pregnancy and one we’ve revisited many times – a fear that my actions would in some way deprive Junior. But I’ve been assured many times by Doctor Geoff and the pages and pages of research I’ve read on Pubmed that the human body acts in extraordinary ways when protecting future genes – apparently I miss out (and crash!) long before Junior does.
The ‘crashing’ as I call it was a fairly occassional dip early in the pregnancy. Every couple of weeks I’d have an off day where I just felt like crap – absolutley worn out – and would need to just stay at home, nest, and recharge my batteries. It usually coincided with doing too much the day prior. For me ‘doing too much’ isn’t usually training – I’ve been doing this long enough now that I can read my body and understand the volumes I can take and still bounce back.
Doing too much for me is usually associated with what my husband calls my ‘TSB Syndrome’ In the UK the TSB used to have an ad on TV that went ‘TSB – the bank that likes to say YES!’ and it’s well known I struggle to say no to anything!
So when I ‘crash it’s usually because I’ve been running around like a headless chicken the day prior trying to please everyone but myself!
As pregnancy has progressed the crashing has become more and more often – although not as harsh as in the early days. I’ve come to realise I just can’t over commit and I’ve started pencilling time into my days when I’ll just put my feet up and relax for an hour. Anybody that knows me will appreciate that this is VERY unlike me! But it’s become increasingly necessary. Usually around the time I would normally have my menstrual cycle.
I’ve not been able to find any solid research on it – but once a month it almost feels as though I have a ‘phantom’ period, I get the migraines, hormonal ups and downs, and general lethargy that goes with your period. It’s at the same time as I would have had a period if not pregnant but only seems to last a day.
The Doc has been a rock for me through pregnancy. When I first agreed to come on board Team TBB I had a mental picture of ‘who’ Brett was – and what he did in terms of coaching his athletes. I actually can’t believe how far from what I expected he actually is.
Every step of the way this pregnancy has been about a healthy baby – and whenever I’ve had my meltdowns because it seemed everyone was racing (and winning!) but me – he has quickly and politley J reminded me of the goal – a healthy baby. I can’t thank the Doc enough for that.
As I said previously – Brett is of the opinion that less is more, and I don’t think that’s just me…it seems to be the case for all his athletes.
So what has training looked like for me? Well if Junior isn’t a water baby I’ll be amazed…….
The plan that Brett had for me was basically 3 phases of training, each shrinking from the previous. I’m currently in the second phase which has seen me limited to treadmill and windtrainer – and swimming too. Running halved in volume going from phase 1 – 2…that was a shock to the system.
I’ve been clocking up the KM’s in the pool. Early on it was normal for me to do; Monday 2 x swims, Tues 1 x, Wednesday 2 x, Thursday 2 x, Friday day off, and Saturday / Sunday I’d get in a couple of open water swims with the kids I coach. In terms of volume I was getting up into the 30km bracket back in March / April / May. A lot of this has been strength work – pull buoy, paddles and band.
Tuesday morning’s session would be a little dis-jointed as I coach a local squad of triathletes here in town, all under 16’s, and to avoid lane hire costs they swim with me on a Tuesday so I’d be constantly stopping and giving them feedback in the pool.
Cycling has been all about strength too – the biggest change for me has been the amount of windtrainer time I’ve been doing.
We have to be particularly careful with saddle sores etc during pregnancy, so I’ve been splitting up my cycling into double cycle days. I don’t usually do more than 90 minutes on the windtrainer in any one session, but have got upto around 3 hours in total volume per day on there too.
My position had to change around 14 weeks, I just felt uncomfortable on the aeros from then on – so Stephen has loaned me his road bike and we’ve jacked up the stem too as Junior has grown!
It’s been really great for my knowledge of Cobb Saddles. I used to race on the SHC170, it’s a saddle I love, blends comfort with light weight and sleek nose so you feel you can just slide right off the nose after 180km and start running.
My pelvis is slightly out of alignment too – literally mm’s on the left side. The rails on the SHC adapt to little idiosyncracies in your anatomy like this. They’re designed to ‘mould’ to you and that’s what I’ve enjoyed with the SHC.
As my weight has increased I’ve gone through the Plus – a slightly more padded version of the SHC which still suits a rider sitting on the ‘nose’. At around 22 weeks Junior had grown to the point we jacked up the front end of the bike and at that point I went to riding the V-Flow saddle as I no longer was perched on the nose of the saddle. It’s been an enlightening and educational experience for me!
Depending on how my pelvis gets through child birth – I may get to try the full range and use a Max when I get back into things – time will tell.
In terms of specifics – it’s been about addressing my cadence. When I trained under Siri she had me lower my cadence and my run off the bike benefitted as a result. But the past couple of years I’ve experimented with a higher cadence. When I do eventually return to racing I’ll be doing so at a lower cadence and this is something we’ve been working on a lot.
Running has been a bitch – plain and simple – but I love my running.
There’s an Olympic Distance trithlon here in NZ that kicks off the summer season – it’s called ‘The Tinman’. Looking back I must have been about 3 or 4 weeks pregnant when the race kicked off – but totally in the dark about what was going on inside. I just COULD NOT BELIEVE how out of breath I felt on the run. Swim – fine. Bike – strong as an oxe. Run – holly hell I felt like I was running at 3,000m altitude.
That has been a common theme throughout the pregnancy – the breathlessness. It’s widely accepted that exercise above 90% of MHR can be damaging to baby during the 2nd and 3rd trimester. I’ve not got anywhere near that throughtout the entire pregnancy. Right from day one of finding out I backed off the intensity and just focussed on strong and steady. Brett further encourgaed this once I came over to Team TBB and his guidance.
Heat is an issue too – and that’s been the one limiter for me, whenever I’ve been out running (I call it that but in fairness 9-10km/h for me is more of a jog!) I’ve been really conscious that when I get ‘hot’ I stop and just walk for a while to cool down. Doctor Geoff has stressed to me that to raise core temperature to the conditions that would interfere with Juniors development would require me to be back in Kona…it’s just not going to happen…but I’ve been cautious regardless.
I was able to run fairly pain free until around 26 weeks and then things started to get slightly uncomfortable. Funnily enough I recently receieved a message of support from a lady here in New Zealand – Kate. She’d been in the same Tinman Triathlon as me back in December, she was doing the 10km run leg as part of a team…at 27 weeks pregnant! What a studette and what an acheivement for her and baby.
I began using a maternity running belt and this helped a lot. It’s basically an elasticated piece of fabric – a little like compression gear – that gives you more support around your mid area. However, even the running belt couldn’t help once I hit 32 weeks and for the past few weeks running has been limited to around 30 minutes at what I would call ‘a crawl’ on the treadmill.
It seems that running is the one aspect that other expectant mums struggle with too. I talked with Bella about her pregnancy experience and she said “I ran till 22 weeks pregnant. Suddenly I felt that the bump got too big, heavy and uncomfortable for running so from 22 weeks I just walked, lots every day”. This seems fairly normal – I’ve talked with lots of athlete mothers and they all seem to find it too much around the 20-24 week mark. I think I’ve just been really lucky and haven’t had that sensation until now.
But Brett has put a little ‘fear’ into me as I’m stopping running this week – no more until after Junior arrives which is a little scary!
It’s not so much painful at the moment - but I get nauseous and that’s not nice so in a sense I’m looking forward to being told no more running – but then the other half of me is a little worried! I’m fairly in tune with Junior – he moves a hell of a lot. But I’ve noticed he seems to fall asleep within about 5 minutes of being on the treadmill, and then wakes up when I get off and have my post exercise shake. I think it’s the rocking he likes!
Bella swam until the day before Charlie was born and I’m hoping I’m able to emulate that achievement, but again it will be about Junior and how my body feels - I’ll make those decisions on a day-to-day basis.
And that’s really where I’m at now – making decisions on a day-to-day basis, if I feel like swimming I swim. And if I don’t well that’s simple too. A visit to our midwife last week threw up a little surprise – Maree took some measurements and apparently Junior is in the 95th percentile for size. If I make it to 38 weeks we’re looking at around 9 – 10 pounds of Kiwi baby! But already Junior’s head has settled down 2/5th toward my cervix and Maree believes we’ll be meeting our little cherub around 36 weeks – so not long now.
I’ll keep you all updated with another blog in a week or two time, hopefully I can fit it in before Junior arrives!