Thursday, 16 February 2012

Three - Run? Bike? Swim? Run? Bike? Run? Bike? Bike. Bike ...

I spent the ten months I was pregnant – yes, ten months and any mother who has carried to full term will agree, it IS ten months – being gentle with my body. By gentle, I mean Yoga, Yoga and more Yoga. I did cycle gently for a little while but I stopped because I kept kneeing my bump and needing to rush to the toilet! And, I was too proud to replace my race saddle with a gel one and that became a little uncomfortable. Oh, I did go to the gym and move on the elliptical trainer a couple of times a week. I was determined to be fit for labour and to be running within a week after.

Within a week!
Yes, I was ambitious. Green and stupidly ambitious.

The midwife thought I was nuts. My mum and mum-in-law agreed with me politely, but they were humouring me, the way experienced mothers can. Nick expected no different. Apparently, Paula Radcliffe was running two weeks after her baby, so why couldn’t I? Well, firstly, Paula Radcliffe is Paula Radcliffe: she ran 26.2 miles in under 2 hours 20 minutes. I couldn't do that. Ever! But, I had bought a pushchair with which I could run and was desperate to use it. However, two weeks after Willow was born, I hadn’t run. And, I could barely stand up or crouch down or bend over or sit. Run? What a joke!

The real realisation occurred, a few weeks after, when I had forgotten a loaf of bread in Tesco. I needed to fetch one, quickly, so I ran the aisle to get it. I didn’t run back ...

When I had realised running was off the agenda while I worked on my pelvic floor, I felt like a blank canvas for sport: I felt like I was new to sport. I knew I needed to be active and had to get back into sport - not just for my body but for my mind. In fact, more for my mind than anything else. Exercise and activity, outside, inside, intense or steady, does wonders for how I feel about myself and my life. But what did I want to do? Did I want to swim? Nope – I don’t like being cold with wet hair. Play netball? Nope – I’m not aggressive enough and would have let down my team if Willow changed my timetable. Once again, I realised, I love riding my bike; cycling ticks every box. But, I wasn’t sure my muscles would have enough memory to know what they should do when I was back on the saddle.

Back on the saddle ... Hah! Sitting on my bike posed enough challenges as well. Firstly, I didn’t fit into my cycling shorts. Secondly, I didn’t own enough shorts to provide the amount of padding I needed. I couldn’t stay in the saddle for more than 10 minutes – but 10 minutes was a start. I know now that I should have bought a gel saddle; it would have been wise.

I did persevere.

Every other day: 10 minutes. 15 minutes. 20 minutes. 25 minutes. It took me 5 weeks to get up to half an hour. And, by then, I had recovered a bit more from the birth too. Well, slightly.

So, my post-pregnancy sport? It is the same as my pre-pregnancy sport.

I am a cyclist. I love riding my bike. I love off-road and on-road. I can go anywhere. I love the time it gives me to think. I love how it makes me feel.

And, the best part is that Willow can come with me. (When it’s warmer and she won't catch a cold ... I am a mummy, after all!)

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