An Interview with Rowena de Belligny
(Main Image: Rowena came 2nd at the Metasprint Aquathlon, 24 weeks pregnant.)
No stranger to half Ironman triathlons, marathons or ultra races, Rowena is a busy mother of 2 young boys with one on the way, plus a full-time job. Finding creative ways to train and stay motivated is crucial to continually achieve her personal goals. I’ve known Rowena for a few years now and have followed her journey through half ironman triathlons, marathons and ultra races via her IronMummy website.
What I liked most about interviewing Rowena, aka Iron Mummy, was her down-to-earth approach to balancing life, as a competitive sportswomen, with motherhood, pregnancy and career. As a busy, pregnant, mummy myself, I was interested to hear about what continues to drive her..
“My main driver is “proving” gender equality and what “women can do” to my kids everyday. I believe in surrounding myself with people who have expectations of me and keep me accountable and helps hugely (sponsors, people who like my page or read my blog, team mates, etc.). In addition to motivation and drive, I train because it’s part of my life, a habit, something that I enjoy and I have always done.”
What keeps you going through pregnancy?
“How about we flip the question…? Why stop when you’re pregnant? I have never heard of anyone who has been injured or harmed the baby by exercising when pregnant? I think being sedentary and/or treating pregnancy like an illness is a modern, urban idea. In other regions, women carry on, literally, until they go into labor and same with other mammals. Take a zebra as an example. If they stop running, they get “eaten” – pregnant or not.
Use a bit of common sense and listen to your body, the only real danger to my unborn baby is overheating. It’s quite hard to find out how hot is too hot though. I’ve done some research into the limited physiological evidence that exists and I have tested myself a few times after exercise and I am a long way from the recommended upper limit – it’s very hard to “overheat” unless you’re ill with a severe high fever. I did run a marathon when pregnant with my second son (very slowly and dressed as a jellyfish!); he was 4.5kg at birth and is perfectly healthy… I think the extra blood flow from exercising may have actually helped his growth and development.”
Can women do it all?
“Probably not if “it all” includes 100% of the housework, cooking, shopping and childcare. But if you have a supportive (i.e. doing their fair share of housework and childcare) partner and/or a maid (we are very lucky in Singapore) then yes – you can do “all of the rest” – paid work, sport, fun, life etc”
And I have to agree. Sometimes as women we forget how much we are capable of and need others stories to inspire us. Popular culture says that in order to build confidence you need to take action, no matter how small. Sitting here on International Women’s Day, I feel Rowena’s interview has particular poignancy. Her realistic approach to doing a little each day proves that we all have the potential to go out and do the things we love whilst still being present for our families.
And why should we feel we have to ‘do it all? The overriding messages here are common sense applies and balance is key. If you’ve never ran a marathon before pregnancy than training for one whilst pregnant is not the best idea. But pregnancy, motherhood and career don’t have to stop you from achieving your long-term goals. Whether its running a marathon or trying out a new hobby, doing a little of what nurtures you everyday can have hugely positive consequences in other areas of your life.