Getting back to swimrun-shape after child birth

WoS: Hi Christine & thx for taking the time to talk to us at WoS!

Christine: Hi and thx for having me.

W: Your team, Ultraswimrun, recently finished Utö swimrun, 5th among women and 53rd overall and you managed to qualify for ÖtillÖ 2016. Congrats, how was the race?

C: Thanks a lot. It was an awesome race. The environment along the course on Utö is absolutely amazing. Beautiful scenery with amazing views – although it is hard to enjoy all of them since the most beautiful parts are also the most technical ones so you really need to focus to stay on your feet… But it was a great race!

May 2016. Team Ultraswimrun at the finish line at Utö swimrun. 5th place among womens and a qualification spot for ÖtillÖ 2016.

W: Was it cold?

C: Well yes and no. I have done the race 2 times before and I think it was a bit warmer this time. But declaring water temperatures below 10 degrees as warm also seem a bit incorrect. It was refreshing I would say!

W: How was the overall arrangements of the race?

C: Really good. Top professional all the way through from the moment you picked up your race bib to the moment you left on the ferry.

W: You just did the Stockholm swimrun race and also here your team managed to secure a5th place among women (51 overall). Tell us, how was this race?

C: Seems like 5 is our lucky number this year – so far at least ;). Well Stockholm swimrun was a fun and well organized race as well. The course was quite flat, hence faster and there was a bit more running on asphalt than expected. Most of the swims were along the coast which was friendly towards the audience but also resulted in quite crowded conditions especially in the beginning. On certain swims the water did not seem super fresh – I guess paying the price for being a “city swimrun”. But overall it was a really good race.

June 2016. Team Ultraswimrun along the course at Stockholm Swimrun. 5th place among women.

W: If you compare the 2 races, are they equally tough or are they different in terms of planning and execution?

C: Well Utö is for sure the toughest; mainly because the terrain is really challenging, the swims are colder and overall the racer is longer (35km versus 27km) than Stockholm. But then again, Stockholm is a much faster race given the lesser technical challenge. Regarding planning and execution Stockholm swimrun is just 2 weeks after Utö, so in my case most of my preparation for Stockholm was to recover after Utö I guess you can say.

W: Now, the reason for us having this interview is that you gave birth to twins only 11 months ago and that you haven’t really had a chance to train that much during the last 2 years, so we wanted to get some insight on how one can get back to ÖtillÖ shape in such a short time. So, how do you do it?

C: Haha, well first of all after finishing Utö I recognize that I did not make it all the way back to previous physical shape yet. But I am on the way. Key words are to listen to your own body, take it step by step, be patient and never give up I guess.

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May 2015. 8 months pregnant with twins.

W: Did you pre-train anything before giving birth, as to prepare for the aftermath, and what type of training?

C: I am used to being quite physically active and I simply tried to continue that during pregnancy for my own well-being. I had to adapt the training of course, for instance I had to give up running already in the first trimester. Swimming I was able to continue with until the very end – it was quite a sight in the pool  by then, but it felt really nice to keep moving – and being weightless. I also walked a lot, did some yoga. And rode my bike until quite late into pregnancy. Staying active made me feel good.

May 2015. 2 weeks before delivery. Swim training at Eriksdalsbadet outdoor 50 meter pool. 

W: If you break it down a bit, what can you do the first 1-3 months and there after?

C: Well first of all training after pregnancy and how much you can manage is extremely individual and depends a lot on your previous physical shape. And then of course on what happens during delivery and whether you have complications or not. For most women (myself included) the first 2 months after delivery is all about recovering. Your body needs time to rest and heal. And you need to focus on the new situation in your life, being a mom and taking care of your child (or children). For most women this is probably the biggest emotional change in their lives. You should of course start doing pelvic exercises, boring but necessary! Besides that, walking is probably the most vigorous exercise you should perform. Then maybe during the 3rd month you can start swimming a bit. I did a bit of running too, but most doctors and midwifes recommend that you wait until at least 3 months after delivery.

July 2015. Running with the 8 weeks old twins, using a Thule Chariot Cougar.

4-6 months after delivery I would call “rebuilding”. You can start performing the physical activities you did before pregnancy but you really have to listen to your body and take it slow. It requires patience. I thought it was extremely frustrating in the beginning running 3 km and being tired, out of breath – and having a lot of other people running past me. Once a competitor, always… But rebuilding is what you do.

May 2016. Final preparations, 3 weeks before Utö swimrun.

7-11 months after is a period where you are approaching previous shape. Approaching – probably without getting there fully. But you can start to increase training intensity both regarding distances, speed and overall training amount. And most likely you will feel that training is getting easier and easier, so that you can stand on the starting line on race day feeling quite good about it. Having in mind that when you reach the finish line you will probably be a bit more tired than before going through pregnancy, delivery and your new role as a mom – with whatever comes with that, such as sleep deprivation, lack of time to rest and recover but also positive energy from the little ones at home.

Prepping just before race start at Stockholm Swimrun.

W: Ok, cool. Sounds as if it’s a lot of listening to your body and take it from there?

C: For sure it is. I was lucky and for me everything went really well, but your body is very vulnerable in this situation so you really need to listen to it, to prevent injuries.

W: You are a doctor by profession, is there anything medically related one should think of?

C: Well of course there can be medical complications during pregnancy and delivery that need to be taken into consideration, so you have to involve your physician if that is the case before you resume training after giving birth.

W: Ok, sounds good. Now, there is only 3 months left before you’re doing ÖtillÖ, how do you plan to train for this, the 12-15 months post-birth. Is it all-in or do you need to caution yourself in any way?

C: Well hopefully it is all in, since I have been lucky not to be injured so far. So for me it is mainly to increase distances and clock some longer training sessions. Honestly it seems a bit scary at the moment, it is a really long and tough race. But I will do my best and then see where that takes me. And luckily I have a strong team mate who has done the race before, so I have good support in her.

Team Ultraswimrun at the starting line at Utö swimrun.

W: Cool. Any last thoughts you want to share with all the soon-to-be swimrun mothers out there?

C: Just that it is an amazing sport and I think everybody deserves to try it out! And the combination of swimming and running is actually really good for your body, if you are not able to run for a period of time due to for instance a big belly, you can always swim instead 🙂

W: We thank you for this time and wish you good luck at ÖtillÖ and all future races you participate in.

C: Thanks for having me, and great job on the pictures from the race, they were awesome!

Follow Christine and her team mate Johanna on their way towards ÖtillÖ 2016 here on WoS. More post will follow!

/The WoS Team