Back in the beginning of the second trimester, I shared how similar I found pregnancy and marathon training. Now that I'm in the home stretch of my pregnancy (when did that happen?), I'm noticing how much more these two experiences have in common.
Pregnancy vs. marathon training: the taper
1. Phantom pains will strike. Many tapering marathoners experience new foot, knee, or IT band pains that come out of no where. Usually these phantom pains cause full on panic but no lasting harm. In pregnancy, Braxton Hicks (practice) contractions may pop up now and again. You'll fret you're going into preterm labor, but that's most likely not the case.
2. Moments of confidence will regularly shift to moments of doubt. Some days you'll feel completely prepared to meet your goal time or have a successful natural childbirth. Other days you'll think, "Umm Jen, you're delusional. There's no way in hell you'll be able to do this!" Expect these feelings to alternate every few minutes.
3. You'll cram in extra, last minute sessions because of those doubts. Taking a new yoga class or two during your taper is sure to loosen you up and help you meet your goal. And frantically re-skimming Bradley Method websites will guarantee a successful childbirth experience…
4. You start thinking about what you'll do differently next time. The big event is still weeks away, but you've already noted mistakes you've made in your training. Maybe you should have practiced yoga regularly during your training cycle or actually taken Bradley Method classes.
5. You'll soak up as much info from others as you can. Surely, women who have been there know more than you. And obviously, their race recaps and birth stories hold some magic secret that will help you be successful on your big day. Warning: expect to scour the internet for these stories frequently.
6. No one will care about the date of your event but you. Friends and family may be counting down the days until Christmas, but you'll be focused on some arbitrary date weeks before. People will ask you when race day or your due date is, and you'll wonder how they didn't already know something so important. Then you'll come back to reality and remember this random day on the calendar is only a big deal to you.
7. You won't recognize your own feet. Blisters and black or missing toenails are par for the course for runners. In late pregnancy, your feet may swell to double their normal size. (I'll spare you the picture.)
8. Nights will be restless. Getting enough sleep is priority number one during a marathon taper and the final weeks of pregnancy. But how can one sleep!? You'll be too busy obsessing over your race strategy or your baby to-do list to get ample shut-eye. You'll wish you could turn off your brain because you know how precious sleep is now, but it will be a losing battle.
9. Your stomach will shrink. You should be carbo-loading or consuming extra calories for baby, but your stomach may have other plans. Maybe it's a lack of physical activity or perhaps it's just nerves, but you'll swear your stomach shrunk overnight.
There's no room in my stomach for you, but I'll still eat you.
10. You'll fret about losing control of your bodily functions during the big event. I don't think I need to elaborate on this one.
Since getting injured, I've heard from a lot of concerned friends and family members. First, they ask how I am physically, and then they cautiously inquire as to how I'm handling the whole being immobile situation mentally.
Honestly? I'm fine. Really.
When the stabbing hip pain occurred, I didn't think about running. I didn't even think about walking. I only thought about childbirth. How could I push and give birth to my baby vaginally with a messed up hip?
The sports doctor eased that fear quickly, though. My injury is on the outside of my hip. He showed me that I have a ton of mobility in my hips (which is probably shocking to any friends who have done yoga with me ). I can lay down and finagle my hips into any position without pain. As long as my injury doesn't get worse, childbirth won't be a problem.
Of course, it sucks being hurt. I'm sad I can't walk Nati. I hate that getting up to use the bathroom is quite the ordeal. Using crutches when you're carrying around extra weight and trying not to fall on your face is challenging to say the least. But it's really not that bad.
As for running… I don't miss it. Gasp! This injury is only temporary; I plan on being a runner my whole life.
Since I started distance running 8 years ago, I've only been really injured twice, including this time (I tore my meniscus 5 years ago and was out for 3 months). I credit my lack of injuries to luck, good genes, and having 24/7 access to a chiropractic care and physical therapy. But I also do something else: I always back off at the first sign of injury.
Of course, it can be tricky to tell which aches and twinges are normal and which ones aren't*. But for me, taking a few days or weeks off- and even missing a race or two**- trumps getting seriously hurt and being out of commission for an extended time or dealing with a recurrent injury.
*I had no idea my hip pain was an actual injury until after Monday's run- especially since it never hurt during a run. I woke up with hip soreness on both sides almost daily throughout my pregnancy and assumed it was from sleeping with so much extra weight on my hips. I wish my hip bothered me during a run so I could have backed off sooner.
**While my meniscal tear caused me to DNS my first marathon, I've never been injured right before a huge race. I could not imagine BQing or qualifying for Kona and then getting hurt right before race day. If that happened to me, I'd need to be heavily medicated to handle that mental anguish!
Last time I was injured, I took the time off to reflect, re-evaluate my race goals, and rehabilitate my knee with water workouts. Then, I eased back into running very slowly. I was so scared to get hurt again that I didn't race for a full year. I doubt I'll play it as conservatively this time, but I will take my time to fully recover. I won't run another step until I'm completely healed.
For the next 12ish weeks (6ish until labor + 6 more to recover from childbirth), I'll sit on my booty, cautiously eye some (short) spring races, and live vicariously through your race reports. I'll take comfort in knowing that this ordeal won't last forever and I'll be running again before I know it- with a jogging stroller.
After all, many difficult situations are just temporary. Remembering that usually helps me get through them. Though I have a feeling those words may not ease my mind once I'm in labor…
This week's pregnancy update is going to go a little differently…
I've shared with you guys numerous times that pregnancy brings a lot of aches and pains. Throbbing feet and burning hips have just been a part of the game once I started packing on the pounds.
When I woke up Monday with an especially angry right hip, I didn't think much of it. I even went running, and had zero hip pain during the run.
It was one of those runs where everything felt right. The sun was shining, a breeze was blowing, and the birds were chirping (cheesy, but true). Running felt effortless again, yet I didn't see any reason to push myself. I truly enjoyed my time on the pavement, and for the first time in weeks, I didn't need any walk breaks (thank goodness for that…). My mile splits were even and I thought just maybe I'd be able to run until my due date. Ha.
I now know the running gods just wanted to make my final pregnancy run an enjoyable one. The minute I stopped running, my hip killed. Not like "ouch, that's sore" but "omg, I can't walk, what did I do?"
I tried ice, low heat, foam rolling, stretching, and Biofreeze. Nothing helped. The pain kept getting worse. Every time I put pressure on my right leg, I'd scream.
I texted my chiropractor husband back and forth and he kept telling me all of the pregnancy-related issues it could be. When I went in to see him later, he and his physical therapist co-worker agreed my pain was an injury and not a normal pregnancy condition. Jeff said I might have a stress fracture, and suggested I see a sports orthopedist.
I saw the sports doc yesterday and he did a bunch of tests on me. Without telling him what my husband said, sports doc said, "I'm 95% sure you have a stress fracture in your hip". The only way to know for sure is to get an x-ray. He said it's probably safe if we double-shield the baby, but I don't feel comfortable with it especially since my hip is so close to baby's home. Besides, even if this x-ray came back clean, he'd want me to take another x-ray in 3 weeks since stress fractures take 3 weeks to show up.
So, I have a (probable) stress fracture in my hip, which means:
- No running for 6-8 weeks. My hiatus will actually be much longer since my due date is in 6.5 weeks and then I'll need to recover from childbirth.
- No putting any weight on my right leg until I have zero pain. Without an x-ray, we don't know how severe the (probable) fracture is, so it could be 2 weeks or 7 weeks on crutches.
- The only exercise I'm allowed to do is swim. Honestly, I'm in so much pain now that it will probably be awhile until I get in the pool.
- I can say "I broke my hip". I was hoping those words wouldn't come out of my mouth for another 50-60 years.
My emotions are mixed. I'm not happy this happened, but if I'm going to be immobile for the rest of pregnancy, I'd much rather it be due to an injury than something wrong with baby. I also feel a bit guilty. Did I run too much? Should I have taken more calcium? Who knows. Maybe I could have been smarter, but sometimes injuries just happen.
Moving on… I am still growing a baby. Yay!
Is so big. I love it.
None this week. I'm still up 25-26 lbs. since getting pregnant.
I feel great minus that whole hip issue. I think I'm starting to get more energy, too. I've only taken ONE nap in the last 2 weeks. A huge pregnancy record!
This will be the last time that "running" is listed under my pregnancy workouts, and I'm OK with that. I'm thrilled I was able to run until 33 weeks.
- W: 45 min elliptical, upper body weight machines
- Th: 4 mi run (treadmill) at 9:16 pace
- F: 40 min elliptical
- S: 4 mi run (outside) at 9:10 pace
- S: 2.5 mi walk outside
- M: 4 mi run (outside) at 9:04 pace
- Tu: OFF
Mileage: 12 mi
I'm getting really antsy. I'm just so excited to meet my little guy. I cannot wait!