Friday, August 22, 2014

Motherhood: Part I, 2014 Season in Review!















Woah what a difference a year makes! Life has been a complete turn but it could not be any better. I have been happier than ever and that has been very clear in each of my races this year. After taking a year off for pregnancy and the birth of my daughter Isabella, I gained a lot of perspective about life and athletics. It made me realize that the way I was approaching my athletic career simply and honestly was too serious and not fun. I know that I need to be serious but I stressed out over things that really werent that important after all. I think I would not have realized a lot of these things if I had not have taken a substantial amount of time off.

My life does not revolve around training and racing anymore. Like most professional athlete parents will say, my daughter is more important to me than racewalking. Trust me, I love to train and race but sometimes those things have to suffer because Isabella requires a lot of my time and effort but I wouldnt have it any other way. One of the best things that has come out of having a baby for my athletics career is the fact that I dont have any time to think about my training after training is done for the day. I go, do my workout and focus on what im doing then but when I get home I am on full mommy mode. I definitely over thought everything that would happen in training on a daily basis before. I would over analyze it and it definitely affected my training and racing negatively. Like they say, too much of a good thing is never good.

 I definitely can relate to athletes like Paula Radcliffe, Kara Goucher and Jo Pavey who all excelled in the first year and beyond post baby. I really felt a physical boost from either the pregnancy, birthing experience, hormones from breastfeeding or whatever it was. All I know is that I felt like I had mommy powers and that having a baby and being an athlete wasnt going to make me worst, it was going to make me stronger and tougher. I could definitely tell that I was able to push myself more in races this year than I ever had before. Whatever it was, I hope it continues as I move forward.

 My comeback and success this year would not have happened without the support of my husband and coach, Tim. He modified my training to fit with my new lifestyle and was very careful with me to not get injured in the months after birth and after sleepless nights. He has been such a great dad to Isabella. He has been so helpful with her, especially when it comes to race time, he would take some of the burden off me so I could rest a bit more. Having a supportive partner is so important and im lucky to have Tim.

I would say that things wont be as "easy" for me this coming year since Isabella is older and more active. I was getting glimpses of this before my season ended in June but now that she can walk, her world has opened even more. A typical day for me is like this:
- Wake up between 6 and 7am
- Start my workout sometime between 7 and 8am
-Go to the gym right afterwards to take advantage of my babysitter
- Come home and go outside and play at the beach
- Eat lunch
- Isabella takes a nap (I nap sometimes but mostly I get chores done while she sleeps)
- After she wakes up we either we go running and I push her in the stroller or if I dont have a second workout, we go to the park
- Eat dinner
- Play again, bath time and then bed time for her

This makes my training time in the morning my ME time and I dont get much more ME time than that but thats ok. Unlike most other jobs, I dont get sick days. There have been times this year when ive been sick or exhausted and I cant just stay in bed and ignore my "job". It goes both ways, if Isabella is sick and is up all night, I am up all night. I need to be available for Isabella 24/7. Im definitely not complaining though. Luckily those days havent come that often this year. I dont want my choice to be a parent to be an excuse for bad training or races because it was my decision to have a baby.

 I hope this gives some of you a better perspective on how elite athletes juggle motherhood and athletics. While it isnt easy, it just makes all the successes that much sweeter and the failures unimportant.

Keep on walking,

Rachel

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