For many woman pregnancy is seen as a time to slow down, hang up their hat and cut back on exercise. Exhaustion and extra baby weight justify the decision to stay home and nest. Not so for top South African trail runner Landie Greyling who has earned the nickname “Traildassie” and for good reason for not only has she embraced her baby bump – she has continued to trail run and climb mountains and even notched up new podium finishes. Her fit pregnancy is an inspiring one and with just weeks to go till baby arrives – it’s clear that mind over matter plays a bit of a role in maintaining this level of activity. Of course when you are a professional athlete – you have to nurture your brand so it’s no accident that Greyling has continued to embody the essence of her brand message during her pregnancy.
More than that, she is a role model to so many and with that comes huge responsibility. Maintaining this status and her credibility as a professional athlete during her pregnancy has further enhanced her brand and reputation – something you cannot put a value to. Her brand status is now more inspiring and valuable than ever before and of far greater significance to her sponsors. This is particularly notable in an age where brand ambassadors and celebrities so often fall from grace due to personal indiscretions. The value and power of personal branding cannot be underestimated – something this elite trail runner understands only too well.
Described as an adventurous, spontaneous, spiritual and passionate person, Greyling is equally disciplined and calculated and likes to plan for success. So it’s no surprise that she has tackled her pregnancy and professional trail running career the same way. With grit, enthusiasm and a practical can do attitude.
A Positive Goal Keeps Control
“Everything in life is about mental preparation. Concentrating on what’s important – visualising the outcome – and learning to master pain and fatigue is the difference between success and failure. This is how I approach my races and I have applied this same philosophy to my pregnancy,” says Greyling.
Although less energetic in her first trimester and she says there was plenty of discomfort – it wasn’t enough to keep her from training and maintaining her exercise programme. “I remember thinking at the time that I would just have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” says Greyling.
She adds that she knew she wasn’t going to feel light on her feet jumping from rock to rock and negotiating the trails, but it was more important for her to keep active, outdoors and in the mountains doing what she loves. Nothing could hold her back.
Pregnant Podium Finishes
At 25 weeks (six and a half month’s pregnant) Greyling participated in the Cathedral Peak Challenge Series on 8 June finishing third in the lady’s category in a time of 4 hours and 8 minutes. She still holds this position on the leader board with challengers unable to unseat her to date. A demanding ascent of 1531m, at an altitude of 3005m, over a distance of 21km; the race requires skill, athletic ability, fitness, and a strong mind to get you to the summit. Although Greyling ran very much within herself, maintaining a steady pace, especially on the downhill, taking plenty of photos along the way, her general fitness, experience, tenacity and the weather all came together and she had an outstanding finish.
From there she went on to complete the Dodo Trail run – an international event that takes place every year on the beautiful Island of Mauritius. Although Greyling has won the 50km Xtreme Dodo in the past, it made sense to opt for the 10km race this time round and she placed fifth.
Listen to Your Body
As a top endurance athlete Greyling has learnt to listen to her body and is in tune with its rhythms. She cautions anyone who is pregnant not to start something new but encourages a healthy exercise programme. “Pay attention to the signs your body sends you and check in with your doctor to make sure your exercise programme will support a healthy pregnancy,” says Greyling.
For a professional athlete like Greyling – good nutrition fuels endurance and vitamin and mineral rich foods make up the bulk of her grocery list. She has introduced even more organic fruit and veggies, Omega oils, Goggi berries and plenty of superfoods to her diet.
“I have not really craved any foods other than the odd carb which I gave myself permission to enjoy. That said I did have an aversion to some of my favourite foods, including broccoli, spinach and beetroot. This passed at 12 weeks when I began to feel amazing with an abundance of energy. We were in Europe at this point in my pregnancy and I was summiting mountains and doing everything I did before – just at a lower intensity,” says Greyling.
On that point – Greyling has maintained her regular routine as far as possible despite her pregnancy. She continues to get up each day and following quiet time spent with her maker, she leaves the sanctity of their cottage which is nestled on a wine farm in Stellenbosch and hits the road for an hour’s run. For a change in pace she and her husband summit a mountain in the area. On her return – she does core work – preggie belly and all. This routine is wrapped up with a wholesome breakfast. Her days vary but include events, appearances, strength training at the gym, and coaching clients who are signed up with the couple’s training academy – Alpasfit. Believing in the value of quality sleep – she retires to bed at around 9pm – a long-entrenched habit that’s not new to her pregnancy.
“I am so grateful that I am still running, coaching other athletes and sharing my trail running experience this far into my pregnancy. From the moment we found out I was expecting – it was on 14 February – it’s been an incredible journey. At the start of my pregnancy I made a decision to safely maintain my fitness so that I can more easily return to professional racing after our baby is born. I knew I wouldn’t increase my fitness but I was determined not to lose it,” says Greyling.
“For most moms to be, pregnancy and indeed natural childbirth is a marathon. Just as you wouldn’t show up for a trail run event without training, you don’t want to show up on your delivery date without a body that’s in shape and ready to labour. So unless you are experiencing complications – sitting around won’t help either. Now is a good time to keep active, cope with the physical changes of pregnancy and to build stamina for what lies ahead,” concludes Greyling.
Like traditional branding, athlete branding involves the interaction, reaction, and emotional experience supporters feel when they engage with an athlete brand. Greyling has certainly done all that it takes to maximise her emotional connection with the wider public – allowing her inspirational lifestyle during this time to encourage others to do the same and to consciously decide to live their best life.
To follow the remainder of the Greyling’s pregnancy journey – follow here: