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  • Writer's pictureSophie Power

18-19 weeks. Training for Everest, reviewing kit and letting my standards go

Pregnancy does not stop you being an athlete and challenging yourself. These weeks have been all about preparation for my new challenge – climbing the equivalent height of Everest (8848m) on the treadmill! Well, that and getting through testing the large number of items arriving at my house daily for Womens Running Magazine.

I take my running kit very seriously – so much so it’s a source of amusement to my family. But when my races are often over several days, through harsh terrain and weather conditions, its often my kit that can make or break my race. A little rub after 3 miles can be a deep gash after 100 – I still have a scar on my breast from an ill fitting sports bra during an Ironman.

And part of me finishing the 268 mile Spine Fusion race last year was almost certainly down to my incredible waterproof (Arcteryx Beta) keeping me dry and safe from hypothermia (which I’m prone to).

This is a video still from when I was pretty much in tears on the Spine. But my jacket kept me dry so things could have been worse!

Which means I’m taking this testing malarkey rather seriously - especially knowing that other women will be relying on the results to choose what to buy. The issue is of course, with 7 pairs of shoes to test (as well as a whole heap of clothing, food, gadgets and accessories) I need to run a lot! Which doesn’t match so well with the lower mileage, more treadmill strategy I set last week. Whoops.

A proper trail shoe test needs a proper range of trail to test on. So I plot an amazing 5 mile loop with rocky downhills, mud, sand and tree roots (and a bit of concrete as you often need to run on that in between). And it was so much fun. I’ve been skipping down rocky downhills, testing the traction, how my foot moved in the shoe, the support and comfort.

Pic - Just some of the kit I tested - as a side note the crazy shorts are from Flanci and go over a baby bump really nicely.

Thinking about the clothing – is my sweat wicking, does it rub, can I move freely? And in general thinking about the huge range of different women that might use the products - from running speed and technique, body shape, running surface and distances. Who it would work for and maybe who not. Trying to give the most useful feedback I can to give the best advice for women runners.

The whole process has left me feeling like just a runner at the moment. Not a pregnant runner, just a runner. A happy runner. Albeit one whose pelvic floor is not so happy at the skipping down rocks bit (though I got to test some brilliant BP3 sporty pants which helped when I got over excited…). Back to back outdoor running days definitely tire it out with all the impact– I guess it’s a muscle like any other and I should treat it as such!

So I’m going to schedule in a running rest day (or treadmill incline) before every long run – there’s only so much stopping every 2 miles I can take and I definitely don’t want to risk weakening it. Next week with Everest will be almost all hiking so a good chance for it to rest… before I tackle the Cornish coastline on holiday : )

One of the dangers of being worried about pee stops is not drinking enough and being hydrated enough. I have my first headache on a hot run this week – I was in a rush to get out of the door with the boys and didn’t have anything to drink (the morning tea since discarded as being a diuretic). I’m now going over training plans for the next day the night before and making sure I really hydrate if I’m doing an outdoor run – including electrolytes as its so hot at the moment.

My back and pelvic pain seems to be gone for now which is a real bonus. I know they will return so I need to make sure I don’t become complacent with my weight training or doing things properly – like lifting the boys with good posture and breathing out.

The weight training has positive side effects too - hubby even mentions my legs are looking strong and toned. He’s not known for his compliments so I’m rather chuffed with this one. Will definitely take that over being “radiant” or whatever else people call pregnant women when they actually mean we look swollen and tired AF.

Eddie’s tough treadmill sets feel like they are working – I’m feeling really rather fit. And I really do feel incredible after each one (once I’ve sat down and recovered).

Next week is Everest week (climbing the equivalent height of Everest on the treadmill in as few days as I can) and I’m feeling ready for it. I’ve been mostly running intervals at 10% but this weeks sessions has thrown some hiking ones at 25% in to get ready for the challenge!

Here's an example:

WU = warm up and CD = cool down

This one climbed 740m over 1hr 10 and 9km

Hiking at 25% at just 4kph got my HR to 147 - which is faster than it is at marathon pace so hiking should never be seen as an ineffective workout!

[I should mention all my run training is on my Strava with the pregnancy weeks labelled (I've left off the strength etc). ]

The main takeaway is that I need to stretch my calves who are currently not very happy with me… I’ve never really taken the time to stretch properly – I’d just rather run more – but I think I might have to add it to the growing list of things I don’t really like doing but will lead to a happier and healthier pregnancy.

I am really enjoying my weight sessions though. I know I’ll have to make tweaks soon enough, so in the meantime I’m focused on enjoying feeling strong (and being able to swing a 32kg kettlebell around). Ab work requires such focus though - a small change in how I do a movement (or mostly forgetting to contract properly) can mean I see doming of my muscles. For example I can do a single toe tap with bent knees when lying on my back, but definitely not even half the movement with both legs!

I’m now moving to an incline bench too for some of the movements - the general guidance is not to lie on your back for long periods, and whilst a quick ab set isn’t long there are ways of getting the same result more safely so no reason not to.

On the life side I’m still struggling with tiredness, especially when I’m training over an hour that day. I nearly missed my son’s nursery pick up twice this week as I accidentally nodded off on the sofa. Work got more crazy than usual (our company was announced as a finalist in the competition to replace the world’s encryption methodology) and conducting and writing up 30 kit reviews has taken a lot of time.

I’ve always tried to get the most out of every day – I never find I have time for TV as evenings are full of family admin, writing, planning and catching up on work. But at the moment it’s a perfect storm of reduced time. Not only do I need more sleep (and am also mentally useless in the evenings now) but school and nursery hours are reduced at the moment so I’m spending more time on childcare. In order to survive I’m being pretty brutal on my time and prioritising - saying no to every time sink and yes to every offer of support!

This weekend we had 2 families staying for my hubby’s birthday. Usually I would have stressed all week preparing, cooking and cleaning. But that would have meant getting behind with everything else or reducing my training – neither of which would have left me in good shape to welcome 7 guests. And stress is bad for the baby!!!

So I called my Dad to bring over some of his fantastic homemade bread and ice cream (Mum also sent a lemon cake) and placed a large internet food order for everything else. I did bake some salted caramel chocolate brownies to can stick candles in though! (they’re my speciality).

I used to care so much what people thought and try and make things “perfect” – but what really is “perfect”? Any what do people care about really? Ironed pillowcases and exotic side dishes can’t make up for an exhausted host. I just needed to make sure there was enough good red wine (and coffee for the morning). And we had an amazing time! One definite upside from pregnancy is not having hangovers in the morning. I also managed to multitask - my girlfriends are keen runners so we could discuss kit testing.

This “letting go” is all good practise for when baby arrives. As is asking for help and support. I’m genuinely thinking of putting a sign up outside the house saying – “No food, no cuddle”. We are bombarded with images of mums with newborns who not only look like they were never pregnant, but have managed to have a shower, tidy their house, iron their clothes and make a banquet for lunch whilst breastfeeding. It just doesn’t happen (unless you have an army of staff and even then…). So I’m starting early. It’s far more important for the baby that I’m happy and healthy than I can offer 3 types of homemade cookie to guests. And if my friends judge me on that… well they’re really not my friends are they?

Once they left I was really looking forward to reviewing a mineral muscle soak bath for the magazine. I had been saving it and looking forward to having just half an hour of peace and quiet all to myself. But just as I turn the taps on I read the packet and it says it can’t be used in pregnancy. However I need someone to do the review so my husband gets the quiet time in the bath and I take the kids to bed. Pregnancy is so cruel!

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