Training for Ironman vs. having a baby

Late last year, my husband and I were planning 2018 and discussing all the things we wanted to accomplish. Fresh off my first Ironman, I felt increasingly drawn toward doing it again the next year. That seemed in direct contention with an even greater yearning I had: to have another baby.

Similar to how I made the decision to do my first Ironman, I first shouted my idea across the house. “Do you think I can train for Ironman in just under a year?” was last year’s question; this time it was “Do you think I can do Ironman pregnant?” My husband responded both times with a hesitant “sure”. I then turned to the internet for advice.

When I google-researched for my first Ironman, I found many articles and blogs, most encouraging, about how a novice athlete can train for Ironman within a year. In fact, it seemed to not matter that I didn’t own a road or tri bike, that I had never attempted a triathlon, or that I didn’t know how to swim with my head under water. Online, I found many rookie triathletes who had completed Ironman with just a year of preparation. I became quickly confident that I could succeed and signed-up.

When google-researching for Ironman this year, I tried “Ironman pregnant” and couldn’t find a single success story. I found a woman like me considering Ironman and trying to get pregnant and the responses were mostly negative with one responder saying “it is insane to think you can be pregnant and train at the same time.” There were a couple women who had mistakenly competed in an Ironman or half Ironman before they knew they were expecting. I couldn’t find one woman, however, who had knowingly and intentionally trained for and completed a full or half Ironman while pregnant.

On May 21st, we discovered we were expecting; on June 18th, I texted my coach saying “I’ve been thinking more about Ironman – and I want to do it.” (Meaning ‘still’ – even though I’m pregnant.) When I tell others my plans for this year I’m often asked questions like “Is that safe?” and, my favorite, “Have you talked to your doctor?” Of course I’ve talked to my doctor – she thinks it’s a great idea! (I have a separate post that outlines the concerns and advice of my trusted medical providers, my triathlon coach, and husband: Concerns for Ironman Training while Pregnant.) I’m starting this blog to begin chipping away at these misconceptions; I want to:

  • Encourage other women who may have similar desires as me and pregnant women who are shunned for listening to their bodies (and doctors) due to misinformation
  • Educate anyone who isn’t familiar with the science behind a healthy woman’s body and current medical recommendations behind exercising while pregnant
  • Normalize pregnancy, women breaking a sweat, and the two together

To clarify, I am not committing to completing Ironman. In fact, I don’t tell folks I’m going to do Ironman; I say I’m going to show up. I am going to train the best I can and see how it goes. It’s important for me that I have a flexible plan that allows me to truly listen to my body and respond appropriately – that could mean completing Ironman or not. Either way, I hope that the next woman who googles “Ironman pregnant” comes across this blog and feels empowered to try doing something few women have – if that’s what she wants to do.


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