From Ironman to Ironmom: 10 Truths for the Postpartum Athlete

postpartumtruthsThey tell you life will change when you become a parent. They don’t necessarily tell you how triathlon will change. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve changed between three Ironmans and two babies.

1. You have a new definition for “fit.”

THEN: One of the barometers for “fitness” was how I looked in my race kit. If things weren’t popping out, being pinched or otherwise out-of-place, I considered at least some aspect of my training to be successful.

NOW: Fit has nothing to do with what you see on the outside. I might not be able to rock a “performance tri skin” without incident, but I was walking laps around the labor and delivery wing one day post C-section. BOOM!

2. Your alarm clock is no longer needed.

THEN: You triple-checked your phone to make sure the alarm would go off at least twice the next morning, lest you miss the opportunity to arrive at the pool in time to get a lane or need a reminder as to why you’re up so early.

NOW: You wake up every morning at 5:00AM. No reminder needed, that’s what the wailing baby is for.

3. Training is not a priority.

THEN: Happy hour? Bachelorette Party? Holiday family dinner? It really doesn’t matter what comes on the schedule, it WILL be managed around your workout. Git-r-done.

NOW: Hustling a toddler around IS training, right? It’s cardio and weight-lifting all at once, and makes good use of the 200 calories you maybe got to eat in a 12-hour period.  GIT-R-TO SLEEP.

4. You fall behind.

THEN: From trends to training partners, you were on top of your game. You rocked the latest gear and you ran with the fast crowd. You PR’ed and you were awesome.

NOW: What fits? I’ll wear that. I’ll show up and that’s plenty awesome!

5. You forget what it’s like.

THEN: You used social media to post all kinds of summaries on fantastic workouts, grueling race reports, and play-by-play updates on all training experiences.

NOW: You read those same updates from other people and think, “Don’t they have anything else to do besides train and post about training?”

6. You schadenfreude. Just a little.

THEN: One of your peers has a bad race day, and you legitimately feel terrible for her. She’s trained so hard and deserved such a better experience.

NOW: One of your peers has a bad race day and for a split second you feel glad that someone else is suffering out there—though a crappy race is nothing compared to a literally crappy hand/floor/wall/outfit.

7. You imagine racing again, and it’s daunting.

THEN: You hum to yourself during taper week while enthusiastically creating gear/nutrition/clothing checklists for everything you’ll need to be race-day ready.

NOW: You’ve been packing the diaper bag so much these days, the thought of anything above and beyond basic needs is too much to fathom.

8. Sleep is NOT overrated.

THEN: If the only time you can get that two-hour ride in is on your trainer at 3:00AM, then so be it. Who needs that much sleep anyway?

NOW: If you’re awake at 3:00AM, your boobs are probably out, and not in a fun way.

9. 4:00PM is your new “22 Mile” marker.

THEN: Your race is going well, you’ve caught a second wind and you’re headed into the home stretch. Suddenly, it feels like you hit a wall at the end of the marathon and you must summon all mental strength to get to the finish line.

NOW: Every day is race day, and 4:00PM is the wall. Just two more hours until the bed-time routine can commence. JUST.TWO.MORE.HOURS.

10. Your finish lines are less important.

THEN: Crossing your first Ironman finish line seemed like the most important thing you could accomplish in the world. Once you did it, crossing it with a PR became your next focus.

NOW: You’re still focused on finish lines, but none of them are yours. Your enthusiasm for milestones has shifted from running a sub-8-minute mile pace to seeing if your son can count to ten, identify all the colors of the rainbow, and go down the slide by himself at the playground. There’s no finisher medal for those moments, but there’s nothing that could truly represent your pride in those accomplishments anyway.

Posted in Tri Mojo
3 comments on “From Ironman to Ironmom: 10 Truths for the Postpartum Athlete
  1. sharon says:

    I am a grandmother and doing my first trip just for me and my bucket list. I remember the days you described, but the only running I did was to chase a ball. Didn’the ride a bike more than a block till this spring, Swiming was helping kidso play in the water, now after one length of a short pool I am gasping for breath. Will I be able to do this? I never thought much about raising kids, I did the job with tears and laughter. Enjoy your babies. I am more scared of this trip than I was having a baby. Yes , true, I was LOT younger.

  2. Holly says:

    Lisa,
    I am 37 & have 3 beautiful children. My most recent pregnancy was complicated & the doctor restricted me from everything except work. I gained A LOT of weight. I also had our sweet little fella 2 months early but we are so Blessed he was extremely healthy. I am not the triathlete of our family but do run to stay healthy. I have told my husband multiple times how difficult it is to run even just a half mile with 20lbs + extra weight on your body. I totally agree that sleep is NOT over-rated. I tell everyone that being 37 and having 3 kids, my body just doesn’t recover as well with less sleep. Now Parker is 6 months old and I am proud to say I have been working extremely hard with cutting calories & running 2-3 miles 5 days per week. I can appreciate the attitude of “just do it.” There are days I get up at 4 to run on the treadmill when my husband is at work or run on it at 9:30 at night after the kids are asleep. I work a lot but you do what you have to so your body is healthy. Went from size 10 to 8 in pants. I can say I am not an IronWoman but do support my husband with training for his very first IronMan Panama City in November. He has been doing triathlon’s for the past 20+ yrs and has done multiple 70.3 but not a whole. I can’t wait for our kids to see such an awesome event and see their Dad compete. Our daughter is 8 and son 4 1/2 then our new baby. Our daughter runs with me sometimes and we plan on them running in the kid’s races prior to IronMan. Last year our daughter ran in several races and hopes she is interested in running more that our weather is beginning to cool off here in Arkansas. Thanks again for the post.

  3. Renee says:

    Another name to retire from tris. Ironmom

    Mother (mom) is the correct term to use

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