Four months ago Jess told the world she was expecting a baby and therefore taking a break from all competitive athletic events. Since then she has been working closely with her coaching team to make sure she is fit and ready for the 2015 Beijing World Championships where she plans to make her comeback. However pregnancy is a life changing event and can put the body under a large amount of strain, so Jess had to carefully consider her options before deciding to carry on with athletics.
Coach Toni remembers the day Jess called him to break the news, “She rang and asked if she could come around to have a chat, which sounded a bit ominous as Jess is not normally that formal. After she told me we talked and she said she did want to continue, especially because of her age. At that point she was already about 13-14 weeks pregnant, so first it was about sorting out the mechanics; letting British Athletics know, announcing it to the team and publically. Then we had a discussion with regards to going forward.”
No more heavy weight sessions or leaping over high jump poles, Jess’ training routine now consists of more moderate exercises.
“First she couldn’t do anything rotating because of how far she was in the pregnancy,” explains Toni. “Then it was no jumping or power work, so we adapted to keep her fit. This involved using the Wattbike and low-level aerobic running exercises. She has also taken up yoga, which you have probably seen in the pictures making their rounds on Twitter.”
If you do want to continue to train during pregnancy it is essential you gradually relax your exercise routine as the pregnancy progresses and don’t do anything outside your comfort zone.
“It is all about general, moderate exercise,” says Toni. “It depends on your pregnancy and at what stage you are at, but your exercise should become gentler as you approach your due date, whether this is pool or bike based. You should definitely seek advice from your doctor or midwife. They can advise you on things you should monitor, such as ligaments getting looser, because, like with Jess, the most important thing is having a safe and healthy pregnancy.”
You should also do your research to make sure you know exactly what your body requires and the things you need to consider when training. This is exactly what Toni did when Jess became pregnant.
“I did learn a lot of stuff and it is important to know and absorb as much information as possible. We also spoke to Dr Steve Ingham, Head of Physiology at the English Institute of Sport, and looked at studies to help gain knowledge, because we were going into something that we didn’t know too much about.”
Toni’s Top Tip – Crossing the finish line
You fought your way to the front of the pack, the crowd is cheering and the finishing line is just in sight – at this crucial moment it is essential you don’t lose your concentration.
“First of all I don’t see enough people practicing the last 20 metres of a race, which is funny because it is really important,” says Toni. “You can get distracted or dip too soon and lose momentum. You should only really be dipping two or three steps before the finish line. I describe it as a kind of running lunge which helps drive you over the line.
“When nearing the finish line, especially in sprint races, you need to fix your eye on a spot in the distance and just run for it. This will help you keep focused and ignore the people around you as they can affect your running style. You should also practice driving off the last hurdle so you know how many strides until the finish line.”
Follow Toni on twitter @Coach_Toni