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The Pregnant Triathlete: Second trimester- bike BABY bike!!

The second trimester has come and gone, without many major issues. Everything I read about feeling more energetic in the second trimester didn’t really apply to me. I hadn’t really felt more tired in the first trimester, and I still felt about the same in the second trimester. I suppose my situation is a bit unique, as I am almost always training for an Ironman or marathon. Now that I’ve cut my workout volume and intensity back significantly, maybe these things have evened out. I did however, start to feel more energetic in my workouts. I was able to get some higher intensity running sessions in. Swimming and biking workouts stayed at moderate intensities. As baby has continued to grow, and I could feel my abdominal muscles stretch out, and hard swim workouts seemed uncomfortable due to that stretching feeling from reaching forward vigorously. I found that if I kept the intensity moderate, this wasn’t uncomfortable. In the first trimester, I limited myself to one workout per day, and I got a bit bolder during the second trimester. I had the energy to get two workouts in a day sometimes. I stopped limiting my run distances. If I felt good, I’d go 9 miles. I was careful to stay hydrated, and take in calories immediately following runs. I was so happy to finally have the endorphin release I missed so much with vigorous runs in the first trimester. In my normal life, I am a big believer in taking one rest day per week. Because I was no longer doing a lot of vigorous exercise, I didn’t follow my own rule. I only took three off days in the second trimester, trying to savor each day, not knowing if or when running would become uncomfortable.

At 20 weeks, we found out we’re having a little BOY! We are so excited! We would have been excited to have a girl too, but were so grateful to know our baby is happy and healthy based on the ultrasound.

Barriers to exercise: I really only had two major issues in the second trimester. I began experiencing swollen feet and ankles pretty early- around 17 or 18 weeks. This didn’t bother me in my everyday activities, but did cause some pain while running- particularly if I ran at night, after being on my feet all day. If this was the case, I took walk breaks as needed. I started putting my feet up when I could at work, running in the mornings or at lunch if I could, and watching my salt intake. The combination of these things improved my swelling, and I was still comfortable running 30 miles per week by the end of the trimester. The second major barrier was the bathroom breaks, which were just as frustrating as the ankle deal. I started limiting my runs to a trail that is surrounded by woods, or running on a track, where I could take some breaks whenever I needed.

Misconceptions I had: The ACOG guidelines state that women should gain between 25-35 pounds during the entire pregnancy. I had already gained a whopping nine in the first trimester, which is more than recommended. In the second trimester, women should gain between .8-1 pound per week. For the first 23 weeks, I was well ahead of these guidelines. This left me feeling like an idiot! Here I am, a nutrition and exercise physiology professor- I’ve dedicated my entire life to promoting healthy living, and I can’t even stay within the weight gain guidelines. I didn’t get it. I was eating extremely healthily and exercising religiously. Turns out, you are not a bad mom if you go outside of these guidelines. Everyone is different. If you are a thin, lean athlete, you may gain more than the recommendations. If you don’t have much body fat stored in the first place, your body’s coping strategy is to increase this to a greater extent than maybe an average woman would have. This was extremely frustrating to me, but my doctor told me over and over not to worry about this. Take home message is that everyone is different. Listen to your body, and trust yourself!

Around 23 weeks, my weight gain abruptly slowed. As baby B has continued to grow, he has found his way up to my ribs. There are days where a few bites of dinner is all I can handle without feeling nauseous. I have switched to many snacks throughout the day instead of three traditional meals. I always carry almonds, protein bars, and some sort of fruit! Below is a sample week of second trimester workouts! Nutrition hasn’t changed much from trimester one, except that I cannot get enough watermelon now! Glad my only cravings have been healthy! :)

Week 18


Sprint triathlon @ 28 weeks

Fat bike 1 hour easy (13 miles)


Run 6 miles 8:46/ mile

8 mile run 7:31/ mile


Swim 2200m (43 minutes)

Run 7.5 miles



Lift- 45 minutes

Spin 50 minutes easy



10 minutes warm up

12x (1 minute hard, 2 minutes easy)

2 mile cooldown

Total 7 miles

Lift- 30 minutes


Run 6.5 miles 8:46/ mile


Fat bike 22 miles easy Sprint triathlon @ 28 weeks

Run 2 miles easy

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