Category Archives: cross country ski

Running {and workouts} through pregnancy – second trimester

I realize I should kind of write these as time goes by instead of trying to remember after that fact (I’m just past 28 weeks/seven months). I did write some crib notes throughout the trimester, and I tracked all my workouts, so at least I can remember some of it properly!

The second trimester is from week 14-27. Man, does the beginning of that seem like a long time ago!

1527

I’ll keep the same outline as I did for the first trimester update. I’ll talk about running first and then the other exercise I kept up.

Of note, my longest run was 1:10 with most around 45 minutes. I haven’t used my Garmin since February, and that was just for holidays runs. Essentially I haven’t used it since Ironman Canada in summer 2013!

So needless to say I didn’t know my pace for a long time, which I think is the best way to run: by feel. On my treadmill runs as of late, I’ve definitely slowed but by less than expected.

What felt good?
In all honesty, not a lot felt good about running after week 19! I ran twice a week until week 17 and then dropped down to once a week, with some weeks of no running.

In week 17 I ran a 12km/7.5 mile trail race. I took it easy and barely breathed heavy. In retrospect, I’m sure I could’ve run a lot harder. But I wanted to play it safe with both the tripping factor and pushing it. I think my biggest success was that I didn’t stop to pee during the race 🙂 Although I didn’t run hard, I was still pretty fatigued the next day.

AnniversaryRace

The race fell on our anniversary, and I hope we can make it an annual event!

The other thing that fits the ‘feeling good’ category is my Gabrialla support belt. I got it in week 21 and noticed a huge difference in comfort of my belly. It completely supported it and just felt right. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is running while pregnant. (Of note, I got a sized up and it fits really well.)

What was different?
There isn’t really anything new to add to this column. I still pee a lot more than normal, am a lot thirstier during and after, and need to eat before a morning run. (My record high is six pees on a six mile treadmill run!)

What didn’t feel good?
Week 19 was where running started to fall apart for me. I would get really bad hip flexor/groin pain at the end of a long run. It would last for the remainder of the day. Kelly and I went for a long trail run during week 19 and I had to walk the last km, and then I couldn’t walk for the rest of the day without serious limping.

Two weeks later I successfully ran but afterwards had bad back pain, and the next day my groin/pelvic area was extremely sore.

This is kind of how it’s been going ever since. I should really stop running but the stubborn part of me doesn’t want to yet.

During week 22 I knew I couldn’t run after a couple minutes and then the next week felt good. During week 24 I had to stop after 10 minutes because of serious back cramps (something totally new to me).

Week 25 was another upswing. I ran two days in a row, which I haven’t done in a really long time! They were both on the trails, so I went nice and slow. Surprisingly, I felt a lot better on the uphill than the down!

Since then running has been touch and go. I’ve limited my max run distance to 5 miles/8 km and that seems to be a sweet spot. Nothing hurts while running, and afterwards, at that distance, my groin/pelvic area doesn’t hurt.

I *may* try running once a week until it acts up again. At that point, I think I should force myself to stop.

I don’t want to continue running to stay in shape or to bounce back into running faster afterwards. I just honestly love it and don’t want to go so long without it (the remainder of pregnancy and then however long afterwards). But, if it’ll do me more harm than good I need to stop.

Everything else
I biked a lot this trimester, all on my trainer. I don’t remember exactly when, but we propped a foam roller on my handlebars when it started to get uncomfortable to lean over.

IMG_7846

Awesome solution, and essentially free since we already had it!

I ride a steady pace, and I still do some interval workouts too. It feels good to breathe a little! My longest bike ride has been 45 minutes this trimester. And that’s more than enough!

Other than that, I’m keeping up my strength training, incorporating some strength/cardio circuits into my routine each week, and doing Tracey Andersen prenatal DVDs every couple of weeks.

I got in a few awesome hikes, mostly at the beginning of the trimester. One weekend we hiked over 20 miles but that was absolutely all I did that weekend!

Floe Lake

On the last true hike we went on, I really tired on the way down and despite wearing my support belt, my stomach was very heavy.

I continued with yoga once a week, and in the last few weeks I practiced 2-3 times a week.

I’ve also been lucky enough to cross-country ski a few times!

IMG_1267

Twice was on holidays and then I went once here at home. Unfortunately I started to feel the same pain as when I run, so I cut my last ski short.

Overall I’ve been keeping up my weekly workout sessions (five or six days a week) but they are much shorter and with a lot less intensity.

I can tell you that in the third trimester this will definitely decrease as time goes on. I’m starting to feel more fatigued (not sleeping well…at all). And I’m really starting to notice the extra weight. I don’t really know what I weighed when I got pregnant, but I would estimate I’ve gained 20 pounds already. That feels like quite a difference with everything except biking and yoga!

 If you worked out/ran through pregnancy, feel free to chime in with tips, suggestions, how you felt, etc! 

If you have any questions, let me know!

Rest and relaxation before the holidays

A couple weeks ago we took time off work and headed to the mountains for 10 wonderful days.

I wanted to relax and sleep as much as possible while getting in some good workouts, and Kelly wanted to have fun in the mountains!

We both got our wishes. We woke up on our first morning to tons of snow so busted out the cross-country skis for the first time this season.

IMG_1267

Kelly leashed Harold to his belt and we had a blast skiing for an hour and a half, and laughing at Harold running like a puppy through the snow!

IMG_1291

Sadly, all the snow melted by that night.

The bright side was that the trails were clear so I got in nice runs on the trails the next two days (also the first time I’ve ran two days in a row in months)!

IMG_1337

Meanwhile, Kelly went deeper into the mountains and got to enjoy non-pregnancy approved activities like downhill skiing and ice-climbing.

IMG_1347

It ended up snowing again, so we got out to xc ski one more time. It was a bluebird sky, temperatures were mild, and it felt so good to exercise in the fresh, mountain air.

IMG_1368

The R&R was just what I needed before the busy holiday season!

reading material

reading material

What’s your favourite winter activity?

I must admit I was envious the days Kelly went downhill skiing, but ice climbing scares me 🙂 Cross country skiing definitely tops my list.

Change the Pace – cross-country skiing

The blinding white beauty. The silence amongst the giant trees. The swish of skis gliding over the snow. Cross-country skiing bliss.

Silverstar

If you read my blog, you know that I love to cross-country ski. It’s one of the few things I love about living in a winter city. And it’s also one of the few activities that comes even remotely close to my love of running (although I’m a rookie and do it simply for pleasure).

XCAbbyNov13

History
Cross-country skiing has been used for thousands of years as a way to get around in the snow. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it became a sport. It was a contest in the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix, France, and women began competing in Olympic cross-country  skiing in 1952 in Oslo, Norway (source).

Styles
There are three types of cross-country skis: classic, skate, and touring. (There are variations of these with differing lengths, camber, wax or waxless, etc.)

Classic skiing is typically done on tracked and groomed terrain with a stride then glide motion. Skate skiing is done on groomed terrain with a skating motion. Touring is for people who do most of their skiing on ungroomed trails, and these skis generally have metal edges.

Many outdoor stores rent skis (REI or MEC) so you can give it a try without having to invest in a pair.

Benefits
Cross-country skiing is a whole-body exercise that targets nearly every muscle. It’s also easier on the body than many other cardio activities. Your joints don’t take much impact, and it’s functional in that you move in a way your body is meant to move.

Some people say it’s as good a workout as running, but I say it could be. You need to develop the skill first. The people I see that know what they’re doing are definitely working as hard as runners. Kelly and I have often discussed taking lessons but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

I think the biggest benefit is for the mind. You’re outside in beautiful crisp and snowy conditions, without the noise of any traffic. It’s kind of like trail running!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My experiences
I use classic skis and love slicing through a groomed trail on them. There are various groomed trails in and around Edmonton. We’ve also cross country skied at ski resorts (Silverstar in BC and Northstar in Lake Tahoe), cross-country ski centres, and made our own trails.

Cross-country skiing in Tahoe

I  can’t stop smiling when I’m skiing and would recommend it to anyone.

Have you ever tried cross-country, or would you? Best memory of it? 

I easily have two: spending last New Year’s Eve cross-country skiing with Kelly and Harold and laughing until I cried in Lake Tahoe with Kelly while xc skiing down pure ice.

Winter wonderland – cold in Canmore

We spent this past weekend in Canmore, the picturesque mountain town just outside of Banff National Park.

The reason for the trip? Kelly was taking an ice climbing course and I tagged along. He had two full days of learning how to ice climb properly, so  I had two full days to enjoy the mountains.

Thankfully we’re used to harsh weather so have the proper gear to withstand the cold. The temperature ranged from -35C (-31F) on Saturday and warmed up to -23C (-10F) on Sunday, with a cold wind chill making it feel much worse!

I went on glorious runs both Saturday and Sunday mornings. My mom asked how running in that cold can be fun, but I swear it was magnificent.

Once I got out of town and on the river path, there wasn’t a soul around. The trees were covered in hoarfrost, steam was rising from the river, and the mountains towered around me. My hand braved the elements to snap a quick photo.

Taken with a phone and totally unedited

Taken with a phone and totally unedited

On Sunday, I didn’t take a camera and just embraced the beauty of the run. Despite numb toes, the two runs were a reminder of why I love running so much and the simplicity of it.

After my runs, I went back to the hotel to thaw out before heading out for excursion number two: cross country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was the venue for all cross-country and biathlon events at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and continues to host world-class events. They have miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and in summer they open for mountain biking and hiking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The cross-country skiing did not disappoint. I fall more in love with it each time I go. (Even when it’s so cold I turn into a snowman!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Sunday I left my camera again to just enjoy the ski and breathtaking views.

We ate dinners and walked around both Canmore and Banff. The only thing better than mountain towns are mountain towns decorated for Christmas! It was such a fun weekend getaway, and Kelly was thrilled to take the course and learn how to safely ice climb.

Do you run outside when the temperature dips? Tell me about your last run that reminded you why you love it so much.

Winter weekend in Jasper

Kelly and I had last weekend’s getaway on our calendars for quite a while, and it did not disappoint.

Although Jasper is lacking snow, the beauty of the town made up for it! I can’t decide if my favourite part of the weekend was the peaceful cross-country ski, winter hike, day of downhill skiing, Moonlight Madness shopping, or delicious food and après ski drinks and laughs.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

XCAbbyNov13

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our XC ski on the Jacques Lake Trail was indescribable: no tracks, not a soul around, surrounded by giants (both trees and mountains). The silence was almost deafening.

WinterHikeKNov13

WinterHikeNov13

Our hike felt more like spring with the rushing river!

MarmotAbbyNov13

MarmotAKNov13

Marmot Basin ski resort is celebrating its 50th season. I didn’t get out downhill skiing last year, and I forgot how much I love it.

Do you ski? What’s your favourite mountain to ski?

A happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow) to all my American friends and readers! I hope you spend time with family or good friends and eat a lot of tasty food!

What are you thankful for?

In the off season

My bad tan lines have faded (my burn line is still there), my black toenail has fallen off, and my pants are mighty snug.

It has been eight weeks since Ironman Canada and I think I’ve mastered the recovery period…maybe a little too well.

I took a week completely off exercise, other than a little walking and fun activities. I took two weeks off running. I travelled a little. I indulged a lot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Classic Beignet from Cafe du Monde in New Orleans

Overall it has been fantastic.

Don’t get me wrong: I feel a constant yearning for long training weekends, exhausted legs, and a full Garmin Connect calendar. (Dramatic, yes, but also true!)

But after a physically and mentally taxing few months a recovery period is important.

Here are my top four recovery/off-season tips:

Give yourself a break. Take time totally off of training, be it a week or two. Catch up with family and friends you have most likely neglected. Take care of the yard work you’ve ignored. Sleep in!

I read after Mirinda Carfrae’s first Kona win she took two weeks completely off, another two weeks easy, then eased into training. If pros take time off, shouldn’t every day athletes afford their bodies the same respect?

Mix it up. Once you’ve enjoyed some time off, challenge yourself. I don’t mean challenge yourself in the same activities you normally do. Try something different and try an unstructured training plan.

AbbyDownhill1

I love to mix it up in the off-season. I cyclo-cross and/or mountain bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, and even tried rock climbing last year. It’s fun and it makes those runs and bikes much more enjoyable when you’ve had some time away.

XCSki

Get stronger. Hit the weights (without a fear of bulking up). Run and ride short and fast to boost your lactate threshold and power output.

I’m trying out increased strength training and some speed. I hope to reap the benefits come spring!

Don’t worry. If you gain a few pounds, you’ll lose it. If you feel like you’ll never be where you were before, you’ll get it back.

Don’t let fear get the better of you and try to maintain peak fitness into spring. By summer your body will be begging for a break. I’ve been there and it isn’t fun to feel trashed when you should be in top form!

How do you do with recovery and off-season? Do you take one?