Much like triathlon involves swim, bike and run, triathletes have a number of things in their lives that they need to balance as well. Jenna-Caer Seefried has recently given birth to her first child, her son Ryker. I wanted to catch up with her and find out how becoming a parent has impacted on her training, how she managed her training while pregnant and how she plans to maintain her training and racing in the future. She gave me some insight into how she managed to keep training right up to giving birth and how she even races with her son now.
Jenna made her Iron Man debut in 2013 with a 10:56 and was used to a strong training load when she realised she was pregnant. Being active and wanting to maintain her fitness, Jenna managed to train through most of her pregnancy. Keeping active also helped Jenna to manage some of the symptoms of pregnancy.
“I know that keeping active helped hugely with keeping pregnancy symptoms at bay I took a few weeks off for travel and that’s when all of the symptoms showed up I had back pain, couldn’t sleep and was exhausted, when I got back to training it all went away.”
During her pregnancy Jenna focused on low heart rate training as well as strength work. Coming from the high volume and intensity she was used to she found this low intensity work easy to manage. During her first trimester when she was experiencing fatigue, nausea and back pain she kept herself motivated by acknowledging how much more it would hurt trying to regain her fitness and strength had she done nothing. She remembers getting some funny looks at the gym and even an amusing story involving a personal trainer.
“I did have a personal trainer come up to me in my 2nd trimester saying he could help me tone up and get into great shape, he asked me what my goals were. I responded with a big smile, “I’m looking to gain about 25lbs and a few more inches around my waist over the next few months.” He was very confused, I think it took another month when I really started to show that he got it.”
Jenna worked closely with both her coach and doctor during her pregnancy. Constant blood tests were used to ensure that Jenna was able to train safely with no impact on her baby. By working closely with her team, Jenna was able to train right up to the day that she went into labour, managing a run and strength session that very day.
Jenna started training about 2 weeks after Ryker was born. The recommended time to wait is 6 weeks but she started walking and decided to try a little run and felt good. She stared riding again 4 weeks after giving birth and got back into the pool 6 weeks after giving birth.
Returning to training has brought with it challenges that Jenna hadn’t faced before. When Ryker was young Jenna was able to leave him with her husband while she went out to train. As he has gotten older and started to get separation anxiety Jenna needs to get up early and get her training done before he is awake. This means many 4am training starts and a slightly sporadic sleeping schedule. Jenna acknowledges how amazing the human body is at adapting. Where she needed at least 8 hours of sleep before Jenna now manages on 5. She has made some changes to her diet as a result of her pregnancy as well
“I try to nap in the afternoons, I’ve never been good at shutting down and sleeping during the day so sometimes its just some quiet time laying down that helps. I keep hearing sleep when baby sleeps. Am I supposed to clean and train when baby cleans and trains as well? I eat a higher fat diet than I have in the past, my body adjusted to it while I was pregnant and not doing any intense training. I’ve maintained it now that I’m back in training and it just helps me have more steady energy levels through the day instead of the ups and downs of a higher carb diet. I do time carbs around my hard workouts to make sure I am fuelled up though.”
Jenna has found a new training partner in Ryker. She does a lot of her training on the treadmill and bike trainer at home but also takes Ryker out for stroller runs and does strength sessions where she uses him as her weight. The smile on his face helps to keep her motivated during these sessions. The fact that Ryker is able to fall asleep on the stroller runs also means that sometimes Jenna squeezes in extra sessions just to help him fall asleep. She has even managed to compete in a race with Ryker in the stroller. Being with his Mum through most of her training might mean he has caught the competitive bug from an early age!
Being a young man without children myself I am often impressed with how parents are able to fit their training around their children and it always puts a smile on my face when I am out racing or training and I see a parent doing something active with their children. The fact that Jenna has managed to adapt to her new life and is able to maintain her training shows that it is possible to maintain balance in life and training.
Jenna’s Tips for New Parents:
- Make it count – I’ve transitioned to higher intensity lower volume since I have less time to train
- Plan ahead with your partner to schedule in key workouts,
- Include baby where you can. I do a lot of runs with my jogging stroller and strength training usually includes baby as a weight!
- Get it in early. When they are young each day is a new adventure and the schedule is constantly changing so getting it done early stops anything from getting in your way.
- Don’t worry about getting to pre baby weight. I still haven’t lost all the baby weight but I know it will come with time and consistent training.
- Listen to your body. A lot of things change with child birth and its like having a whole new body so pay attention and give your system what it needs. I recover and move differently so I have to pay attention and cant assume I can do things the same way as pre pregnancy.
What have you done with your children to include them in your triathlon journey? How do you manage to fit training around your children?