Four months after my third child was born I crossed the finish line in a sprint triathlon and set a new PR! No it wasn’t through luck….I’m no elite athlete by any stretch either. While I have worked really hard, part of the secret sauce had nothing to do with me.
How would I be able to get into racing shape within a few months of giving birth??
I stumbled across a note from my husband from about a year ago (~Fall 2012). He had forwarded me a message about the 2013 Athleta IronGirl sprint triathlon and said “what about doing this race?“….now, keep in mind I was a few months pregnant with #3 at the time and just flat out nervous (scared) about trying to come back from pregnancy #3. My response then — WAAY too early! I’ll never be ready for that if I deliver mid-March. Well, if you’ve been following along here you’ll know that I actually DID end up doing just that sprint and improving my time by ~15 minutes! I can hear you saying…how’d you DO that?! Lot of hard work….but one of the keys was actually training with a coach (another thing I NEVER thought I’d do).
Returning to triathlon training after pregnancy
Even though I’ve successfully lost weight from pregnancy before, I was pretty nervous if I’d be able to do it again. Weight loss is one thing, but what if I couldn’t keep working out during pregnancy? I was also nervous about juggling kids, work…thinking about it all can be pretty overwhelming. Finally, my self confidence was simply not where it needed to be. The mental aspect of triathlon cannot be overlooked – and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get my head straight. Enter coach….
Solution: hire a coach
My husband surprised me and hired a coach to help me train for the 2013 triathlon season. After the shock began to subside a bit and it was clear that it wasn’t something he could return, I reached out to coach and introduced myself. She had an extensive questionnaire to fill out so she could get familiar with my background and goals. Afterwards, we had an intro call so we could work on our communication plan and I could learn more about her coaching philosophy.
That first week we worked together I had just made it to my six-week postpartum visit and got the “all clear” to resume working out. I remember struggling to walk 30 minutes on the treadmill. When I logged in to TrainingPeaks and saw my initial workouts, my jaw hit the floor….”she wants me to do WHAT?!? There’s no WAY I can run/swim/bike that much!” But, you know what? Each session, I did my best to do it and over time (a frustratingly loooong time), I started to improve a little. At least I didn’t feel like I was going to die. It was a tremendous boost in my confidence to be able to meet workout goals on a daily basis and have someone who was unbiased offering support.
So…what’s the end result? I’ve set new PRAK’s (PR after kids). I’ve lost weight and will hopefully continue to do so and God willing, after this weekend will have finished three triathlons within six months of giving birth. Most importantly, working with a coach has provided a much-needed reset on my vision of what’s possible and what I am capable of doing. This might have been the most important thing.
Could I have been this successful WITHOUT a triathlon coach?
That’s the question I ponder. My gut says no, not this time around. The parts of training with a coach that helped me be successful were probably being held accountable and having the bar set higher than I would have for myself. Those parts couldn’t have been easily replicated so I think it would have been a tricky road to get here without coach. At the end of the day, it was up to ME to execute, stay motivated and make myself a priority while trying to train for the triathlons. And that part wouldn’t have mattered if I had a coach or not. I haven’t decided if I will continue using a personal coach….but would just say its kind of like driving in a top-of-the-line Mercedes. Hard to switch back to a Toyota Corolla, but it will still get you where you need to go.
Have you ever used a coach? What were your results? Would you do it again?