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.