Runners are very good at taking directions. You tell us to run 80-85 miles this week and we’ll log 82. Practice starts at 8.a.m we’ll roll in around 7:58 watches in hand, laces tied and chomping at the bit. Be sure to sleep 8-9 hours a night to recover? You got it. You must suffer through 16-18 mile long runs with blisters, consume copious amounts of unappetizing gels, and seek out voluntary massage and painful ART sessions just so you can callous your body for racing. √√√ Then one day out of nowhere you are told to rest and submissively become a sedentary human being stripped of all the joys of exercise. Hold the phone!
I’m in the home stretch of this pregnancy sitting (literally) at 34 weeks. Recently I was experiencing what felt like frequent and strong Braxton Hicks contractions that were occurring more than I thought normal at this juncture. As a precaution I went in to see my doctor for some testing and turns out my body was sneakily trying to go into pre-term labor. Any woman who has had children before can attest that having your baby earlier than you due date is a welcomed surprise. However there is a crucial developmental mark that all babies should get to before entering the world. This period is around 36-37 weeks and is considered full term because the baby’s brain and lung development has reached it’s full capacity. So at 33 weeks my doctor suggested we take some precautions. I was given a few medications to slow contractions down, some meds for the baby’s development, and in a nutshell told to chill. Bed rest is a very ancient term that my doctor doesn’t like to use but she knew in my case as a highly active individual whose job is exercising it would feel like bed rest.
The news was a little alarming at first as I questioned and wondered whether I did anything to induce this? Thankfully I was reassured I hadn’t as I didn’t have any of the main risk factors for pre term labor. Except for one prevalent circumstance: subsequent pregnancies close together. I’m basically the poster child for this with only 6 months separating my 2 pregnancies and 15 months between due dates. I remember this being one of my fears when I found out about my 2nd pregnancy, that my body wouldn’t handle going through this process again so soon. Yet I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve had a great and healthy pregnancy, my body simply knows what to do and us trying to rush the process. Typical Runner!
I’ve never liked comparing pregnancy to an injury but in this case it’s fitting and helping me get through this period of “chilling.” Every woman’s pregnancy is different, as some women can run up to the day they go into labor while others only make it to 22 weeks before their body gives them signs to back off. I made goals for this pregnancy as I do for most of my training cycles throughout my career. They were just toned down quite a bit from normal. I hoped to average 50 miles a week and run as long as my body permitted without any pain. I was fortunate to have stayed healthy the entire time, train with my teammates (partially), and although I made it less time than my last pregnancy the quality of the training was far greater. After 28 weeks my pelvis area and surrounding ligaments indicated my running days were over so I transitioned to a regime of 20-30 mins of cross training on the bike trainer or Elliptigo. I aimed for 6 days a week and had been fairly consistent for the past 6 weeks. Since the plug was pulled on that plan here’s how I see it: Say you’re coming back from an injury and cross training to avoid the stress of weight bearing too quickly. 6 weeks in, the doc says “actually the injury has regressed a little so you’ll have to dial it back to allow further healing. “Oh cool so you’re telling me you already took the joy of running away, now you wanna strip me of all endorphins?” Sounds like a good idea: CAUTION very pregnant lady unable to release stress or sweat, be advised. Seriously it’s not all that bad. Sarcasm aside I’m taking this 3 week hiatus from movement and focusing on the simply things that often get neglected when we’re busy. I’m constantly pulling motivation from my teammates’ training and racing, other post partum moms on their comeback trail, and keeping the big picture of my career at hand. The good news: after 36 weeks my doctor says all bets are off. At the point the baby will be fully developed, ready to make his entrance, and I can resume whatever training I want. So I’m looking for a marathon at the end of August, any suggestions? 🙂
As always I try to keep my journey as transparent as possible. Trying to keep it real for all you runners, readers, and moms out there and show how we may all travel down different paths but some have more connections to others, we just need to share it.