LAST JUNE, South African long-distance runner Irvette van Zyl welcomed her second child, a healthy son called Gideon, into the world. The highlights of her first few months of motherhood have been to hold a smiling, giggling, sweet little boy in her arms, and to watch him grow.
During her pregnancy, Van Zyl maintained a healthy weight. The 31-year-old from Johannesburg carried on running throughout her pregnancy – she even managed a 46-minute 10-K four days before Gideon was born! It’s been a matter of months since she gave birth, and already she’s returned to running at elite level.
Here, Van Zyl shares her sage advice for expectant moms who still want to run, and who need to find the balance between training and family life.
1. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Go with the flow, as opposed to planning ahead. Base your training on how you feel on the day, and only do what your body is capable of. Running should make you feel better, not worse.
My second pregnancy started out differently, because at first I didn’t know I was pregnant. Unknowingly, I raced the SPAR Women’s Race in Johannesburg, and the Soweto Marathon. This meant my fitness level was high, and I found it easier to run further than I had during my first pregnancy.
But 12 weeks into my pregnancy, my ligaments couldn’t handle the same level of training. I swopped afternoon gym workouts for low-impact swimming; and inste