Sunday, December 29, 2019

Guys! I finished a "training block"!!!

Stoke is high as the scenery in Sonoma County is pretty!
My new mantra 'how does time keep going by so fast'.

I don't really know where to begin on this. I've intentionally kept quiet about my athletic goals for 2020 partly because I'm not even sure if this is all real yet, and partly because I don't know if I'm ready to share. But either way, yes, I started 'training' again, in quotes because it feels so insignificant compared to what training looked like pre-baby. Although I know the biggest problem I'm going to have should I stick this thing out is downplaying my efforts and wanting to be the same athlete I was immediately, which just isn't possible or healthy. 

Good company on one of my 'training camp' rides!
The past four weeks coach had me complete a series of efforts a few days each week with 2-3 hour endurance rides on the weekend and lots of core work. I'm calling it a training block because it was a block of specific intervals designed to produce a specific physiological result.  To complete these workouts I rode my bike to school 2-3 days per week for the first 3 weeks (also the first three weeks I was back at school) and knocked out the work on the ride home. This was followed by a short mini solo training camp up here in Sonoma County this week where I did a bunch of 3 hour rides (the longest I can be away from baby before she needs to eat).

Here are some thoughts on returning to work/training while breastfeeding and owning a baby:

1) Holy heck do I get tired by the end of the week! I'm pretty lucky to have a baby that only wakes up once per night at 4 months old, but the physical demands of working, breastfeeding and training zap ALL my energy. On Wednesday two weeks ago while riding home post workout I was convinced I was going to black out because I was so shot. I thought about calling Brendan to rescue me the whole way into the canyon as my vision blurred. The second week of intervals I had to tell coach I couldn't ride both weekend days because I was just so dang tired on Saturday's ride that I was counting down the minutes until I could be done. That doesn't seem like a great mindset, if I'm so tired that I can't wait for a MOUNTAIN BIKE ride to be over I shouldn't be out there, I should be resting. So I think the greatest lesson I'm learning (let's be honest, I will never be done learning this) is that I have a finite amount of energy and I need to respect that. The good news is that winter break has afforded me a little more sleep and I feel great doing 3 hour rides, feeding the baby and NOT working. Thank goodness for this 2 week break from the grind!
Most days I get home from work and this is the first thing I do. 
2) Everyone has been saying to me 'you'll be fast sooner than you know' or something like that. It used to annoy me because I felt like there was a lot of pressure, like people expected me to be fast again right away and my body didn't agree. BUT over the last month with consistent riding I am starting to feel more and more like myself WAY faster than I expected. I'm not FAST, but I feel good, and that's almost more important. Hopefully the speed will come, no need to rush that.

NorCal views make every ride the best.
3) The mental aspect of doing intervals is just as easy to loose as physical fitness. The first couple sets of efforts were HARD mentally. My mind wandered and when I pushed hard but didn't feel like I was going anywhere it was so tempting to give up, WAY more so than before when I was used to doing hard workouts. It took a lot of grit to complete the first few workouts, and then slowly the mental focus started to come back just like my legs slowly started to respond to the efforts.

And lastly but most importantly I have the world's best husband and family a girl could possibly ask for. On Christmas eve we were driving to Brendan's parents house and I told Brendan all I wanted from him for Christmas was for him to be honest with me if it was too much, me training again and needing him to babysit when I'm on the bike. His response was that my dream is his dream, and that he is happy to accommodate my training which basically made me cry. On top of that no one has told me I'm being selfish or crazy trying to train again, and although I'm constantly worrying about those things, it helps so much to have the support of my parents, in-laws and friends. I'm still taking this thing one day at a time, and trying to be realistic about what I want to achieve, but no matter where this journey takes us, it's exciting to think about the opportunities and possibilities.

We have tons of exciting news coming Jan 3, I can't wait to share a little more about our 2020 season!
Baby's growing as fast as I'm getting stronger... I hope I'm getting stronger that fast :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

On Being an Athlete with a New Baby

We are 3 months in and I am FINALLY starting to get back into the swing of working out/finding motivation and routine. Along the way there have been starts and stops, questions of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, and LOTS of flexibility on my part while I figure out when and for how long I can and should work out. I would still say I have no idea what I'm doing, but I've gotten great advice from friends, and have learned a few things along the way, so here is a short blurb about that.

My new normal :)
1) Recovery, it looks much different with a baby. The biggest impact having a baby has on my riding (other than needing a babysitter) is that my post ride recovery looks WAY different. After pretty much every ride, run or swim I come home to a baby who needs to eat, and my boobs need to be drained, so the first 30 minutes after I walk in the door is prioritized for that. This means I found myself many times in the last 3 months in a sweaty kit, on the couch stuck for 5-15 minutes or more, unable to fix a recovery shake or snack, sometimes even without a water bottle. When you walk in the door and your voice/presence reminds the baby that 'Hey, I'm hungry!' and she starts screaming there isn't much you can do besides pull your sportsbra up and feed that baby! BUT a few times I have walked in the house right after Brendan started feeding the baby previously pumped breastmilk and those were the best because I could grab a snack and water, and then sit with them and pump. I think if/as the training ramps up this is more ideal because taking care of my body is still important. Bonus is that this way the baby isn't getting a sweaty boob or salty milk.

Mountain biking is still the best!
2) Every workout takes twice as long as before because I have to drain the boobs before and then again after if I want to be out for more than an hour. This means budgeting time, planning when I wake up if I need to be back by a certain time etc is all a little more difficult. It's been SO worth it though to sacrifice a little sleep to also get a 3 hour ride on a few occasions. We bedshare, which means I can just slip the baby a boob in the early morning and she generally will just take a meal before I sneak out the door. I have also pumped my boobs empty pre-workout as well, if she is sleeping soundly and I don't want to wake her.

3) The lungs were the thing that held me back the most in the beginning. I totally thought my legs would be weak, and the  extra weight would be what bothered me the most, but it was the burning in my lungs!

4) My motivation and drive are so so different and it took me a long time to accept that this is ok. There are days when I just want to lay in bed looking at her face and the bike ride just doesn't happen. I'm at peace now with the idea of missing workouts and not nailing the perfect training plan, it's ok to be loose and kinda free about the whole thing. As I ride more and more the motivation is returning though, so I guess just forcing myself to do core three times a week and to get out on the bike/for a run is the key to reigniting the motivation, it builds on itself.

5) NOTHING is as great as riding a gnarly trail on your mountain bike after 6 months of very limited riding. It's like I'm seeing in color again :)

First bike commute down! 
6) I'm so super grateful for all the years of ultra endurance racing and training. I think hard things are less scary when you are used to doing them, and kitting up to commute to work at 5:30am today was one of those 'hard things' that didn't seem so daunting. Thank you to all the ultra races I did in the past, for making everything else seem so do-able!

So yeah, I'm not an expert and there is a lot I need to learn still, but things are coming around. I'm enjoying every step of the process, and spending time with my baby is still #1 priority, so no crazy long hard riding yet, but it's nice to be back on the bike and having an identity outside of human cafeteria :)

Hit me up with tips and tricks for being a new mom and athlete if you have any!!