I had everything planned out in my head: I would stop taking birth control in November (sorry, TMI), take a couple months to get back to normal, then take a couple more months or a year to get pregnant. Yep, that was the plan. During that time I’d also train for the Boston marathon (baby-free), dominate it, then dominate pregnancy…that was the plan. Unfortunately, life plans don’t always work out the way you expect them to. It’s so easy to have a plan for everything in your life but when it comes to making babies…you really have no idea what will happen. It would be so convenient if there was a way to tell when you should start trying, or to know if you’ll get pregnant right away, or not. But life doesn’t work that way.
I found out I was pregnant shortly after Christmas. To say I was surprised was an understatement. Of course, I was overjoyed and couldn’t believe we were actually going to be parents! After the news sunk in a little, that feeling of joy slipped in and out of fear: this was really happening. There was a baby growing inside of me. Of ME! Me and my body were going to be the caretaker to a baby who would grow big and strong over the next 9 months. Then the party really begins.
I’m assuming most first time parents have this feeling of fear (if you didn’t just tell me you did). I’ve obviously never been a parent before….I’ve never even had a dog! The thought of a human baby relying on me every second of every day is somewhat terrifying. It’s terrifying only because I want to live up to the expectations of parenting that I think our baby deserves. I know me enough to know my shortcomings, therefore, it’s scary!! I’m going to be a parent…yikes.
Back before I was pregnant and naive, oh like, October, I thought when I became pregnant that I would essentially live my life like I normally do minus a few things (alcohol, maybe caffeine, raw fish, etc.). I assumed exercise and running would continue to play a big role in my life.
I was obviously thrilled (and scared) that we were having a baby. There was only one complication standing in my way: I was scheduled to run the Boston Marathon in April. I wasn’t sure what the doctor would say about marathon training during pregnancy but I was prepared for the worst.
The day after I found out I was pregnant I went for a scheduled run, just a 6 miler, nothing too intense. For the first time in my life, I felt very aware of my body and scared that I was already being a bad mother. That run turned into a walk and I remember feeling frustrated and thinking maybe I can’t pull this off…running a marathon while pregnant does seem a little absurd doesn’t it? I remember stopping during the run and crying. I think it was a mix of emotions: the fact I just found out I was pregnant (AKA scared/excited/nervous basically every feeling in the book) and extreme frustration with myself….why hadn’t I planned better?
After that attempt to run, I laid off the running until seeing my doctor. Even though I had read a million articles saying running is fine while pregnant, I didn’t feel comfortable until I had the go-ahead from the Doc.
I wasn’t really sure what the doctor would say about marathon training; I figured it could go either way. She gave me the green light on running in general, then I dropped the bomb about marathon training. Surprisingly, she barely flinched. She said because I’ve ran them before that my body was used to this mileage and therefore shouldn’t be a problem. She did tell me to slow it down, watch my heart rate (nothing over 150), and stay hydrated. I could do that….game on! It was kind of funny, her reaction to me skiing was more serious than the marathon training. No more skiing!!! But run 20 miles? Sure, go for it!
I’ve essentially been taking my training 1 run at a time. Some days I’m just too tired to run, so I don’t. My training definitely hasn’t been as good as it should be, but at this point, I just want to be able to finish. I have 6 hours in Boston to finish and I think I can pull it off with a mix of running and walking.
My pace has slowed down quite a bit. For example, I ran the Eugene marathon at an 8:15 min/sec pace but I ran my 14 miler today at 11:22 min/sec…much slower. To be honest, my body is totally fine with that pace at the moment. I thought it would be harder to slow down, but I’m not sure I could go any faster even if I wanted to. I’m just hoping my body can stick with it for 4 more weeks….then I swear I’ll be done!
I keep track of my heart rate, my fluid intake, etc. but most importantly…I listen to my body. Like I said, if I feel too tired, I don’t run. In fact I usually do the opposite: I nap :). On every run I try to pay attention to my body and if I ever feel dizzy, faint, sharp cramps, or anything else out of the ordinary, the run is over (I take my cell phone on every long run). So far, every run has been okay. When I get to the point where I feel like I’m getting too out of breath, I stop and walk. That’s totally fine if that’s what it takes.
Only 4 more weeks to Boston. I’ve made it this far so I’m pretty proud of myself and my body. This week is the longest run: 20 miles. I already did my 18 so what’s 20? If I can actually pull off running Boston, it will be quite an experience. I definitely wouldn’t recommend training for marathons when pregnant (non-pregnant running is easier!), but it can be done! It’s kind of amazing what our body’s are capable of huh?
Anyway, that’s been my experience so far. It hasn’t been the easiest, but overall hasn’t been too shabby either. I’m really looking forward to running Boston but also looking forward to training being over. After April 16th, I plan on propping my feet up, doing some yoga, maybe some swimming, and taking it easy up until September.
Hopefully this post made sense. I think I rambled a bit in there..sorry :). I just wanted to shed some light on how my body has reacted to pregnancy and long distance running.
If you’re a mom or are pregnant, do you exercise regularly? What do you find most challenging about it?
*I just wanted to share my experience so far. Everyone’s different and everyone should consult their doctor before attempting any sort of exercise program. If for some reason, my Doc tells me no marathon…I will definitely listen. The baby’s health is the most important thing…not a marathon! That being said, I hope it all works out :).