Please excuse my recent posting hiatus. I have been out of town visiting with family, and didn’t have too much time for blogging while I was away.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about exercise, and now that I’m officially into the third trimester 🙂 I thought I would take some time to reflect on my training challenges and accomplishments over the course of the second trimester.
The second trimester got off to a slow start. Still dealing with the last bits of early pregnancy exhaustion, naps sometimes took precedence over gym sessions. I found that I was noticeably slower and weaker at the gym than I had been pre-pregnancy, which was very frustrating, since I hadn’t gained much weight and my body hadn’t changed appreciably, so I felt almost as if I had no excuse for my poor performance. Physically, I was able to do absolutely everything that was required of me, including at my gymnastics classes, but I was frequently taking one and a half to two times as long to complete my CrossFit workouts as I would have pre-pregnancy. I also found that I was very easily winded and often needed to take short breaks mid-workout in order to catch my breath and bring down my heart rate.
As the second trimester progressed, I started to have more energy, and I was able to attend classes on a fairly regular basis (or at least get to the gym on my own time when I couldn’t make it to a class). I began shifting my focus from time, weight and intensity to technique, choosing to focus on perfect reps and perfect form, since I knew I wouldn’t be setting any speed or weight records. Outside of CrossFit classes, I mostly concentrated on my Olympic lifts, and I think I’ve made some marked improvements to my snatches and clean & jerks by scaling the weight way back and repeatedly drilling my technique.
At 21 weeks, I completed my annual military fitness evaluation, and although I didn’t come close to the levels I have achieved pre-pregnancy, I still blasted both the minimum and “incentive” standards out of the water, and achieved the highest score of any female being tested that day.
This was also the point where I started to experience some physical limitations. I stopped working on muscle-ups (that milestone is going to have to wait until after the baby is born), stopped doing handstand push-ups, chest-to-bar pull-ups and V-sit-ups, and and started to notice my belly getting in the way of rowing, sit-ups and certain Olympic lifts. I have also since stopped doing inverted burpees, wall climbs and handstands — basically anything that requires me to be upside-down on my hands — because I find that kicking up into an inverted position stretches my stomach in a rather uncomfortable manner.
Through the last month of the second trimester, I started to notice an increase in energy and strength, to the point where I have actually managed to get the fastest time or top score in the class on a handful of CrossFit workouts (even beating the guys! :)). I have found that I am still able to lift fairly close to maximal weights on deadlifts, clean and jerks and shoulder/push presses, but I am keeping my squats at around 75 to 85 percent of maximum, as I sometimes feel a bit of knee strain in the lowered position. To be honest, my performance over the past month has completely exceeded all of my expectations for this point in pregnancy, but I also know that my body is changing very rapidly, so I accept that these gains will most likely be short-lived.
I have gained roughly 20 pounds over the course of the first six months, which is definitely slowing down my running and making bodyweight exercises (push-ups, pull-ups, etc.) more challenging. I am also noticing some dull aching in the pelvic area after certain types of workouts, and that running puts an awful lot of pressure on my bladder, giving me the uncomfortable sensation of having to use the washroom when in fact I do not. But at the same time, I am still doing burpees, box jumps, snatches, clean and jerks, sit-ups and double-unders — all of which I didn’t anticipate being able to do this far into the pregnancy.
From an aesthetic standpoint, I notice that I now have less muscle definition due to a slight gain in body fat (er… “energy stores”) and increased fluid retention. This might have something to do with the fact that we haven’t been quite as strict on diet as we would like to be ;), or it may just be a result of normal pregnancy-related body changes. In any case, we are going to make a concerted effort to tighten up our dietary habits through the rest of the pregnancy and beyond (no caloric restriction of any sort; just no more “cheat” meals!). It will be interesting to see whether I manage to shed the excess fluid I am retaining, or whether that sticks around until after the baby is born.
The Spartan Race takes place on Saturday, and I am really looking forward to it! I haven’t done as much trail running as I’d have liked to, but I feel confident that I can complete the course at my own pace, with the help of my team. Hopefully I will have a video and some photos to share with you afterwards.