This Athlete Ran Right Up To The Day Of Her Son’s Birth
As a professional female athlete, it sometimes seems like you need to choose between motherhood or continuing to compete. You don’t get both. But that sure isn’t the case as many strong women have proven over and over again. Landie Greyling is one of them.
“How I got back to competing after having a baby…”
If you follow Landie Greyling at all you’ll know that she’s just had a beautiful baby boy with husband and running partner Christiaan. What you’ll also have seen is that she didn’t stop running right up until baby Christopher’s birth. She’s taken everything in her stride and literally hit the ground running as soon after her pregnancy as humanly possible.
It’s been an incredible journey to follow. Here’s what Landie has to say about being a professional athlete and a mother…
You continued running until your baby was born. Can you tell me a bit more about this, distances, how you adapted your training, etc?
“I continued running right up until the end of my pregnancy. For me, running, being active, spending time in the mountains and [adventure] has always been a lifestyle. Being pregnant wasn’t going to change that. My body was so used to it so I kept on, but I did lower the intensity.”
“While I didn’t cut back the mileage in the beginning, I didn’t do as much speed training or hills sessions. I remember doing something every day of my pregnancy, which helped my energy levels and meant I didn’t feel sluggish and unhealthy. On days when I felt lethargic, having done some training helped me to stay positive.”
After your baby was born, it seems as if you hit the ground running (literally). How long was it before you were back on the trails?
“As much as I wanted a natural pregnancy, it just wasn’t meant to be. I had a C-section because Christopher’s umbilical cord was around his neck three times, so he couldn’t drop. The doctor gave me the go-ahead to start being active after four weeks. I started hiking very slowly, running and just listening to my body. I was hungry to get back onto the trails because I was injured three months before my pregnancy. While pregnant, I couldn’t do the professional running training I was used to.”
“My fitness seemed to come back quite quickly. I was disciplined, determined and eager to start getting back to my normal training regime. I really enjoyed getting back into the mountains and pushing my body as hard as I could. (For me, this was the difference between being pregnant and not pregnant.)”
Obviously, mom life changes things… How has your life and training changed since becoming a mom? How do you juggle mom duties and training?
“Being a mom has changed my life for the better. I love having a little son and it’s changed my whole way of thinking. Life is more fun with him. With that, there is the challenge of trying to get back to professional running, made difficult due to lack of sleep and breastfeeding. You need to plan training runs, fitting in gym, massages and biokineticist sessions.”
“We live on a farm a little outside of Stellenbosch, so I have to carefully plan when to drive and how to be back in time for feeding. All the logistics are sometimes quite overwhelming. I have a nanny now, and my husband and a babysitter who support me when needed. But both grandmothers live in Gauteng, which isn’t ideal. Our motto is to always try to find the positive and overcome the challenges to see how we can make it work.”
What impact did the pregnancy have on your body? Was it hard getting back to your peak fitness? Can you tell me a bit about the process? What did it include besides running training? Diet, strength training, etc.
“Pregnancy has quite a big impact on your body and fitness. You aren’t doing the intense training sessions for quite a significant period of time. You need to be careful not to get back too quickly and injure yourself. There are muscles that have been used differently, your joints and ligaments are more flexible and loose (especially after a C-section), which impacts your running. So you need to be careful. I consulted a post-partum physiotherapist, who gave me some lower abdominal exercises and checked that I didn’t have any problems before I started my proper training regime. I got back to strength training with RunStrong and consulted a biokineticist to see that my running form, and specifically lower abdominal exercises, made me stronger to handle all the mileage to get back to professional racing fitness.”
How does breastfeeding affect your workout routine and nutrition?
“You have to hydrate much more and make sure you eat well. I’m constantly hungry so I have to stock up on good nutrients and foods that will assist with milk production. This includes taking Fenugreek tablets, which are known to help with milk production. I prepared my own ‘jungle juice’ with Biogen electrolytes and berry elixir. I drink up to three times more fluids than I normally do and make sure I eat nutritious foods. You need to take in extra kilojoules that the baby takes out of you. I breastfeed Christopher before I go for a run. If he’s still sleeping, I express before heading out.”
How have you managed the changes in your body? What sports bra do you use?
“I’ve never had to deal with having large breasts, so being pregnant and breastfeeding was quite a shock to the system. It has affected my running as I have to breastfeed or express before so I feel lighter. Fortunately, my friend Mariska sent me breastfeeding sports bra’s from H&M in the United Kingdom, which has made a big difference.”
Sleep and babies don’t always go hand-in-hand. How do you ensure that you get enough sleep, or do you cope on fewer hours?
“I’ve had to make big adaptions with regards to less sleep. Training up to three times a day doesn’t leave much time for your own naps to coincide with the baby’s nap! So I’ve learnt to adapt to less sleep and some days are harder than others. I try to get in a nap whenever I can, as I know sleep is vital for performance and feeling positive.”
Do you feel that you are back at peak fitness? How are you feeling about Spain?
“I feel really good in my training sessions. I haven’t done as many long runs as I would’ve liked, but I did do two smaller training races and my body responded well (I won both). It’s hard to know if I’m back in my peak fitness – we’ll only know when we get to Spain in the middle of April for the 60km Spanish ultra!”
Landie managed a convincing 2nd place in the SA champs this last weekend. I think it’s safe to say our golden girl is back.