Interview: Natalie Lawrence on racing and training triathlons when pregnant

Natalie Lawrence Barnard pregnant triathlon

Natalie Lawrence (formerly Barnard) is a racer we have featured on the site before. For several years she made her name racing pro on the Ironman 70.3 circuit, with some very decent results and was talent scouted into the sport following her world class standing in Biathlon.

In recent years, Lawrence has been focusing on building her business (http://transition-tri.co.uk/) and having a family, having recently had her first son and got married. We’re delighted to share that she is expecting her second. We loved hearing that Natalie had raced Ironman 70.3 Staffs this weekend whilst 22 weeks pregnant so thought other readers who might want to know more, or were worried about training and racing whilst pregnant would like  to hear from someone who is very active and still enjoying excersize whilst pregnant.

Hi Nat, how are you? Congratulations on Ironman 70.3 Stafford, how did you find the race?

Thank you it was as ever like me, a very last minute decision! One of my athletes can only swim at the moment so I managed to get the kind organisers to get us a relay and rigged a girly from Team Bear Tri club also via Twitter.

The race  experience I had was shared amongst most competitor – I think it was pretty chaotic pre-race! It’s always tough when you have split transitions but I think the whole shuttle bus situation really became problematic both days. Not only this the race had originally been boasted as flat and fast …. It definitely was not!

Obviously last time I raced or trained even for that distance was in 2013 pre-pregnancies so I knew it would chafe. I was actually aiming pace wise for around 3 hours give or take, but the hit the wall  at 72km and I royally bonked. To be fair I was chuffed I got that far before I blew up. I munched a Powerbar and gel and that got me back but it was a painful and miserable 9 miles I can tell you!

I think what I found remarkable was you are racing whilst pregnant. I imagine most would be putting their feet up! First of all congratulations to you and your partner, second of all, could you tell us a bit about what stage your pregnancy is at and how you mix up excersize with managing your pregnancy?

I’m 5 months now (22 weeks). I have had such lovely pregnancies, I was always so active with Max. Up until 32 weeks I was on my TT bike! I have managed a marathon (3:21 a PB)! 3x halves, 1x 5km swim (1:18) and this epic 90km to date. I will calm down shortly as I have promised my husband Lee! He was a nervous wreck at Staffordshire.

I just take each day as it comes. Some days I feel wiped out with having an 11- month old and working as a masseuse/ coach, then other days I go with it and go for non impact workouts- whether it be 1-2hr on the bike, a gym weights session or a swim. I’l keep working and exercising up until the time in October.

What advice would you give, maybe as a coach or maybe just as a pregnant woman who enjoys excersizing, to a newly pregnant triathlete who is worried about the next couple of months and what they could maybe achieve realistically?

It’s very important to stress every women and every pregnancy is different. I think to a point I’m an exception to the rule, but I also think I’m not overly cautious with the scaremongering and things you read up on. I would say go with what you feel you can do, safely for you and baby

I wouldn’t suggest running beyond 20 weeks maybe (size of bump depending too), just because your pelvis softens and can really do your back some harm which may be long lasting. Your hips and joints loosen more and can cause hyper mobility. Swimming, light biking, gym, classes, are all great and you can still get a sweat on!

You raced for years as a pro and are still heavily involved in tri as your job – do you enjoy racing as an age grouper now with less pressure?

Yes, if I’m honest I do. I fortunately and unfortunately started my career in tri at the elite end from word go when I was talent scouted. I haven’t really raced triathlon as an age grouper or done it as fun or a challenge. So I guess it’s tough to say I honestly love the sport like I see loads of my athletes say which is a shame. I feel robbed of that a bit.

I love coaching via my club transition tri (www.transition-tri.co.uk) however as I get to really mix it up with the guys and girls who make up the majority of triathlon. It’s so rewarding when I’m able to help them achieve results. We already for a small club boast 6 newly made GBR AG team athletes !

Will you return to pro racing once you have your family settled in?

When I return I want to hit AG racing as il be nearly 30 (eek) so one year on 25-29 AG then play with the fast girls.
One race- one podium- one ticket to the worlds as an AG. With pro you have to race your ass off for minimal points to bank them up to hopefully get a spot. It’s a no brainer. Financially too!

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