Similarities between Ironman training and pregnancy

There have been several instances during this 10 month training journey to complete an Ironman triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle & 26.2 mile run) where I feel there has been a strong correlation between pregnancy, so I thought I would share my thoughts….

Firstly, the most obvious similarity for me was the 9-month training journey…. similar to a 9 month pregnancy. It felt like I was counting down the weeks similar to pregnancy and blocks of training, similar to trimesters! I feel that the Ironman training felt longer than the 9 months pregnancy especially when I added an extra month on after the first 9 months didn’t quite go to plan!

The tiredness and fatigue

Ironman training: Training 15+ hours week in/week out whilst juggling four sources of employment, looking after the house, being Mummy and getting the kids to all of their activities and trying to keep sane was tiring…. At times I would lay on the lounge floor after a training session and not move for a good 30-60 minutes as I was that fatigued!

Pregnancy: Growing humans inside you is tiring – I remember when I was pregnant with our twin girls there were times that I couldn’t stay awake past 8pm, having slept 11 hours the night prior and having had a “Nanna nap” during the day!

The hunger

Ironman training: I love food but there were times in this journey I just couldn’t face eating any more as I just felt like I had been eating constantly all day! Bananas, peanut butter, oat cakes, cereal, bagels, yogurts and apples were my staple…and I could eat loads of them and still not feel full!!

Pregnancy: “Eating for two” – I certainly did that and more! I recall waking up in the night hungry at times when pregnant and having a protein shake at 3am to keep me fuelled!!

The aches and pains

Ironman training: I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any aches and pains in this journey – it is inevitable, surely?? There were some days where the aches and pains made me very grumpy and even a hot Epsom salt soak in the bath didn’t make them disappear! What did help them was regular massage from either Andy of Resolve2Run or Diksha of FixMe. I also had a fantastic stretch session with Michelle Moran which I highly recommend.

Pregnancy: The back, the cankles and the boobs! Everything hurt at some point during the pregnancy journey!

The emotional roller coaster 

Ironman training: Some days training would go to plan, other days it wouldn’t – this could be due to a variety of reasons; tiredness, children requiring my attention, hormones, fuelling, mechanical issues with the bike. When things don’t quite go to plan this can affect my mood and desire to want to continue on the journey which would be reflected on my parenting style.

Pregnancy: The anticipation of waiting for scans to ensure that everything is OK is tough, “scanxiety” is a thing and the emotions that go with this are intense.

The “never again” 

Ironman training: The countdown and wanting to finish the training for Ironman Wales was real…. It was taking over my life and I needed some head space from it. To then have the experience I did in Wales and not finish was brutal. I was honestly ready to sell my bike and never get on the start line of a Triathlon again….But I did, 6 weeks later!

Pregnancy: I actually was very “lucky” with my first pregnancy that I didn’t have any major complications and had a very straight forward birth and was home 2 hours later having breakfast! To fall pregnant again 6 months later and this time with twins – we both agreed “never again” after that pregnancy!!

The “shopping lists!”

Ironman training:  10hr+ of exercising takes some fuelling and some equipment to get you round it…. There were constantly lists of nutrition products that needed topping up and/or bits for the bike which would potentially gain me some time or make my experience my comfortable. It’s certainly not a cheap pastime!

Pregnancy: The hospital bag list, the coming home list, the sleeping comfortably and safely list, the getting out of the house list and the list of lists! Much of pregnancy was spent writing lists of “things” that would help our lives during pregnancy and once the mini Goslings had arrived…. I do love to write lists though!

The support network

Ironman training: This journey wouldn’t have been possible without my support network – my husband, my children, my parents, my siblings, my coach, my friends from the Triathlon Club and anyone who supported me via social media/WhatsApp messages. All of this support was very much needed and relied on.

Pregnancy: For our first pregnancy we joined the local National Childbirth Trust group which was a godsend to have a support network of expectant parents. When pregnant with our twins I sought out the local Twins Club and this became a life line during pregnancy and once the twins were born.

Being surrounded by people experiencing similar things in their life to you at the same time as you is invaluable.

The post event emotions

These emotions were so similar for both journeys:

  • Proud
  • Exhausted
  • Unable to sleep
  • Hunger on a different level
  • Post event “blues”
  • Surreal realisation of what my body had just achieved

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About the author Ellie Barnes

Ellie is widely qualified and experienced within the fitness industry and she also competes at a high level so she knows at first-hand what it’s like to set demanding goals and achieve them.

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