Once per month, I’m checking in with you to talk about my journey as a new athlete mom. I’ll talk about time management, how getting back to and maintaining a training schedule is going post-partum, the mental and emotional pieces too. I’ll tell you what it’s really like and hopefully give you some nuggets you can apply to your own lives as well.
This podcast is supported by Wahoo Fitness who have been a great partner during my journey as a pregnant athlete and new mom!
If you aren’t an audio fan and you want to read the transcription, scroll down a bit.
“Your starting point isn’t your endpoint. And a growth mindset means that knowing that whatever that number is, you can improve on it. But if you don’t ever look at that number, if you never get up the courage to say, “where am I starting from?” (and yes, it is humbling to see where you’re starting from) If you never look at that, then you’re never going to get better and you’re never going to be able to measure that improvement. ”
“The only thing to be ashamed of is not looking and not trying to make changes to a situation that maybe you want to change.”
Topics Discussed in the Podcast
- my riding post-partum
- introducing structured training at 2 months
- the challenge of getting started again
- dealing with anxiety related to assessments (like a test, a race, fitness)
- talking about my TrainerRoad Ramp Test
- your starting point is not your endpoint
- look for improvement
- attention follows intention.
A couple of weeks ago, I did a ramp test inside on my Wahoo KICKR to assess where I’m at – assess where my starting point is as I start to add in structured training. Now, I definitely have been training or riding throughout my pregnancy. I took a week off after having a baby and then got back on the bike. I’ve been doing more just riding-along type of rides and just trying to respect my body where it’s at so that it could heal from birth. I also wanted to keep the fun factor really high as I was navigating new things, new challenges – like taking care of a new baby, adopting and adding in the identity of being a mom while I was pregnant for obvious reasons. There were some changes to my riding, even though I was excited to continue riding all the way to the end.
I knew that getting started again would mean that there would be a decrease in the fitness that I had had. I was in peak race form right before I got pregnant. During pregnancy and immediately post-partum, I hadn’t done any of the work to maintain my high-end fitness. By high-end fitness, I mean, riding in zone three, four or five, riding above or near your threshold. Those zones translate to riding above your endurance pace. All of my riding was at an endurance/lower intensity pace. I was excited to see that despite not riding long rides, I’ve maintained aerobic endurance. Part of that is because I’ve been an endurance athlete for many years. I can’t quite say decades yet, but for we’re coming up on that pretty soon.
I was going to do a ramp test and it’s normal to feel a little bit of anxiety. No matter what your situation is, every time you’re going to be assessed in something, whether it be test anxiety – how many of us took tests in school and felt nervous about taking a test or getting our test results back? Many of us have done some type of assessment like our fitness. It could be a formal scientific assessment or you could have done an assessment of yourself by gauging how fast you can climb that hill next your house and deciding where your fitness lies by looking at that.
So I knew my FTP (my functional threshold power) would be lower than it was before because of the type of riding I did while pregnant. But still, I was nervous to see just how much lower it would be because I hadn’t trained it. So I did the test. I got my number back. Some of you said, “What’s your number?” I’m not afraid to share my number. In fact, I openly publish my power data on Strava. But for the purpose of this post and really in general, it isn’t about comparison and it’s just about talking about what it’s like whenever, you know your number is going to be lower. And that’s the case for many of us.
Lots of us get off track or have an injury or get pregnant or start a new job that’s more demanding than we thought. Maybe we just won’t be able to dedicate ourselves to our fitness in the same way as before. And for some people, that loss of fitness is something that’s scary. They don’t want to look and see what that number is. Or maybe you’ve gained some weight and you’re afraid to look at the scale to see where your starting point is. But your starting point isn’t your endpoint. And a growth mindset means that knowing that whatever that number is, you can improve on it. But if you don’t ever look at that number, if you never get up the courage to say, “where am I starting from?” (and yes, it is humbling to see where you’re starting from) If you never look at that, then you’re never going to get better and you’re never going to be able to measure that improvement.
There’s a lot of shame and embarrassment that we can have whenever there has been a change in something that once gave us more self-esteem. The only thing to be ashamed of is not looking and not trying to make changes to a situation that maybe you want to change.
So, back to my ramp test. I initially discovered about a 40-watt drop from my max FTP of my prime race fitness. And I’ve been working hard for the last few weeks. I’ve been doing primarily sweet spot work because that’s the starting point for me with building higher end fitness. And that is primarily where I race. Because I spent so much time training that zone (the sweet spot fitness) over years, it has come back very quickly and I’ve already made some gains to my FTP! It’s cool because you can measure that on your KICKR or whatever device you like to use to measure power.
Seeing improvement, even if it’s small gains, is really encouraging and really exciting because it shows us that whenever we commit to something and we show up and we work hard and we believe in ourselves that we can improve.
This is just another great reminder that attention follows intention. Intentions are a great guidepost for your goals, so if you say “I want to achieve X,” then your intention is the action you take. Where you choose to focus your attention and your concentration is key to achieve those goals.
So what are your daily habits? What direction are you going in? Are you going in a direction that’s going to help you be better every day (and maybe some days you’re not) or maybe some days you just have setbacks? There will be days on the bike that you don’t feel good and your numbers are worse. But what direction are you going? Having the power to be honest with yourself and be humble enough to see where you’re at is important. It also takes courage to celebrate your successes whenever things are going awesome. It’s something that I think is really important and something that’s been in front of mind for me as I have been just getting back to a new normal for who I am, what my expectations are, and how I am going to show up for myself and for my family. Every single day.
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