Luisa from Team Standert shares her experiences as a cyclist and mother. Hear how she found her way back into cycling after giving birth, how she adapted to a new baby and training routine, and why parenting and cycling is truly a team effort.
Becoming a mother has been a life-changing experience, and as a dedicated cyclist, I knew I would face new challenges in maintaining my training routine while caring for my baby. In this blog post, I want to share my personal journey of training as a female cyclist with a child. Despite the physical adjustments post-pregnancy and the emotional rollercoaster of motherhood, cycling helped me to rediscover myself and find renewed energy.
Returning to cycling post-pregnancy
During my pregnancy, I was determined to stay active and maintain my fitness. I cycled outdoors as long as I felt comfortable and kept riding frequently on the Kickr until two weeks before giving birth. Only two weeks after becoming a mother I was able to get back on the indoor trainer and found myself riding outdoors two weeks later. Although it felt great to be back on the bike, 50 kilometers felt more like 200, testing my endurance and mental resilience.
Getting back into the rhythm of training and competing proved to be more challenging than I initially anticipated. Limited time for training, coupled with the higher stress levels due to lack of sleep, nursing, and the demands of caring for an infant, posed new obstacles. Adapting to limited time and energy was a big challenge. With a baby in the picture, my training schedule had to undergo significant adjustments. Previously, I could dedicate around 12 hours a week to cycling - now I had to make the most of 6-8 hours. It meant becoming more efficient and focused during each training session, making every minute count.
We spent the winter in Mallorca, enjoying good weather and ideal training conditions. However, due to the demands of caring for our daughter, my cycling time was significantly reduced. To make up for it, I rode shorter distances with higher intensity throughout the entire winter, deviating from my usual volume-based training. Although I felt strong at the beginning of the season, setbacks like illness and a minor crash reminded me once again that progress might be slower than I had initially hoped.
Finding my self again – despite setbacks
My first competition, just three months post-baby, was far from stellar. The physical weakness and lack of concentration culminated in a DNF - Did Not Finish. It took me a while to realize that I had to be more patient with my body.
One of the most challenging aspects was coming to terms with the fact that regaining my previous form would take longer than I expected. As I continued to breastfeed, my energy reserves were further depleted. I found it difficult to get into the right mindset for racing and to dig deep during intense training sessions. However, being part of a team was a powerful motivator and inspired me to strive for fitness once again. I knew that I had to push myself if I wanted to compete amongst my teammates this season.
Despite the time and energy it demanded, being back on the bike also helped me to find myself again after the life-changing event of giving birth. Cycling became my escape and a source of much-needed energy. Even when I felt tired, the act of pedaling infused me with positive emotions and a boost of motivation. Training became a vital form of self-care, helping me combat the baby blues and regain my sense of self.
Cycling and parenting: Teamwork is everything
I owe much to my supportive husband, who understands the significance of my cycling journey. He has been instrumental in helping me maintain my training routine and pursue my goals while balancing the demands of parenthood. Not only does he take care of our daughter when I am out riding, but he also provides me with mental support and encouragement. Despite having his own cycling aspirations, we strive to split our time equally, ensuring that both of us can pursue our passions while supporting each other's endeavors. Our shared love for cycling has brought us closer as a couple and has created a strong foundation for us to navigate the challenges of parenting while pursuing our individual goals.
I am still on parental leave and anticipate further complexities upon my return to work. Juggling a career, motherhood, and cycling will surely put my time management and flexibility to the test. However, I am determined to find a way to continue training and racing. Cycling has become not only a passion but also a vital part of my identity, and I refuse to let go of that. I am hopeful that with proper planning, support from my family, and a resilient mindset, I will be able to navigate this new phase and maintain my dedication to both my professional life and my cycling pursuits.
The journey continues
The path of a female cyclist navigating motherhood necessitates adaptability and tenacity. Despite the commitment and patience required, it also provides a unique opportunity to experience the power of self-care and the profoundly positive impact cycling can have on physical and emotional well-being. I believe it is crucial to challenge yourself, yet equally important to accept setbacks and disappointments as part of the journey. As I continue this journey, I hope my experiences inspire other female cyclists to embrace motherhood while continuing to pursue their cycling dreams, finding strength and fulfillment in both roles.
Veloine is an official partner of Team Standert 2023.