Does Being a Mum Stop You Racing? With Peri Gray
Often times sport is seen as a male dominated activity, with women relegated to more “nurturing duties”. And how many times have you heard, “Oh you’re pregnant, you need to stop “riding/running/etc”? And while it still seems to be common for mums to fit activities around their children and family, it’s great to see women breaking molds forcing it to be more “acceptable” to be continuing on your fitness journey, albeit it with some changes.
When we first met Peri Gray at Adventurethon Anglesea she was a super fit athlete pushing her boundaries. Since that time she has welcomed a new baby in to her life and we asked her how she managed to train, be a mum and still manage to make it on to the podium at events. We asked her to share a few words about how she manages to fit it all in…her passion is evident, so we will let you learn through her words.
“When I fell pregnant I felt the impending winds of change, I knew I wouldn’t be able to train when I wanted to and things would have to start to work around this new little person that we were creating.
I made a commitment to myself that although I was becoming a Mum I deeply wanted to integrate the things that bring me happiness and keep me sane – I wasn’t sure if this was going to be possible, but this was a conscious intention I set.
Pregnancy for me was a very enjoyable journey. I didn’t try to be “the hero” and be the mama to be still running, riding and training full out until 34 weeks – instead I listened to what my body wanted and what felt right for me and that was LOADS of walking and swimming.
I seriously became a Marathon walker and swam most days.
It felt right for me to stop running early on at around 16 weeks.
My motivational mantra became ‘I am no longer training to be an athlete, I am training to have a baby!!’
I was now training and preparing for birth, a new kind of Marathon!
It became essential to make sure my body was in peak birthing condition, that I created the best state possible outcome for my speedy return the high intensity exercise and training I adore.
A few steps I took to ensure this were;
- Pelvic Floor evaluation while pregnant
- Implementing the assigned exercises right up until labour, to make sure I had the strength for a speedy recovery post birth
- Educating myself around my Birth Choices
- Only allowing positive birth energy into my space through my pregnancy
- Daily visualising the birth I desired and attending workshops that supported my desired outcome
It’s not a mistake that I managed to experience a beautiful water birth, drug free and in a home environment. I worked hard and consciously to create a support team that felt safe and empowering to both my Husband and I. The continuity of care from our amazing Midwife teamed with the willingness of my partner to hold the same positive outcome, alongside personally knowing and being held by women who had turned traumatic birthing experiences around to experience deep transformative positive birth experience meant I was blessed to bring Leo earth-side in an incredibly beautiful way.
Now the Motherhood journey and the healing from birth began!
Due to a slight bladder prolapse, it did take me longer than expected to recover from birth.
I surrendered to this and began taking steps to heal actively – going back to see my pelvic floor specialist and almost obsessively committing to everything she told me to do. The work paid off and at 13 weeks after birth I got the green light to start jog/walking, riding and swimming! YES!!
I was like a little kid a Christmas!! Slowly, slowly I built up my strength and 7 months later I was back in the racing saddle. Due to the prolapse, I had to make sure I had healed before I threw myself back into training otherwise I could have had huge problems down the track.
I really want to emphasise how important it is to make sure your body is healed before going back to exercise after a baby. Birth is a huge thing for the body to go through and without correct, conscious and expert support, as well as a willingness to commit to the daily exercises, change and strength is hard to achieve.
Exercise is my Meditation. Getting back into training post baby was made for one happy Mama and making time daily for it is a priority for me.
I need to be very organised in planning my days and weeks – I always plan a day in advance.
Each morning until 8.15am is generally my time. My Husband and I manage to tag team training between us and it works and we both get to do the stuff that makes us happy.
I know I am a better person and Mama when I prioritise exercise, little Leo loves a run in the pram, so we do endless adventures together and he is really clocking up the K’s!!!
Doing what you love and smashing realistic goals are so achievable as a Mum, just be armed with a willingness to make adjustments that work for you and your growing family.
I am back racing, doing sprint distance Triathlons and getting great results.
Results that have opened up the opportunity to qualify for the world Championships in September!
My heart still yearns for longer races and would much prefer to be Adventure Racing in the bush, but for this phase I am in right now that just isn’t possible – so I have shifted my goals to races that are achievable and enjoyable.
I accept things are changing all the time and when we eventually add Number Two to our Adventure clan things will be sure to shift again!
So for now I am going to enjoy where I am at and actively create Adventures and Challenges that feel GOOD, and that serve my new beloved role as a Mama athlete!
The journey of Motherhood is different for everyone, I have been very blessed to have a “cruisey” baby first time round and it has allowed me to get back into things quite smoothly.
If you can just find 30 mins a day to do something, anything that makes you feel good – a walk, a jog, or a yoga flow it will help you slowly get back to things and eventually back into racing if that’s your thing!
Alongside my joy of being a Mum I have also continued working as a Athletes Coach for GPC coaching and an Event Organiser from home – I get so much from all these areas of my life and making them work for me as a Mum has been truly rewarding.
I especially love the challenge of getting mums fit again after pregnancy, so fire any questions you may have my way – you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adventurethon have created a great concept ‘Demolish’ which is great for mummas wanting to get back into racing. Basically there is a standalone PADDLE, standalone RUN and standalone MOUNTAIN BIKE event. You can do one or all events and all the disciplines are friendly distances.
Adventurethon do an amazing job at making their events friendly for all. Most people need a goal to get them motivated, so this is perfect goal for all of you mummas wanting to get back out there. So get some mummas together and make a day of it and do some training together in the lead up to make it fun and enjoyable.
So yes getting back out there and getting fit after pregnancy is possible for any mumma. Believe in yourself and make the time and anything is possible.
Being a Mum has changed my body, my goals and my approach to training, it has also given me laser focus, determination and new little groupie that is always race side cheering Mama along!
I look forward seeing more mummas out there on the trails doing what you love.”