How Pregnancy is Like Marathon Training
|October 13, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under Uncategorized|
What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time I was training for a marathon and now I’m in my last month of pregnancy:
So you may know that I’m skeptical of the ‘the labor is like a marathon’ analogy, however I do think that pregnancy (or at least my experience so far) is similar to marathon training. Here’s 10 reasons why:
1. Your body undergoes amazing changes. There are numerous metabolic, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal changes that occur during marathon training and during pregnancy. It is amazing how the body adapts and responds to the challenges placed upon it.
2. Your calorie needs increase, but you still need to eat well. As your mileage ramps up during marathon training you need to make sure you eat enough to match your caloric expenditure. The same is true with pregnancy. Since your body is growing another human you need to eat more to support your growing baby. However, just because you need to eat more doesn’t mean you have a free pass to eat lots of unhealthy foods. You need to focus on eating quality foods during training and pregnancy in order to achieve the best health for yourself and your baby. Of course, there is always room for treats whether you are training or pregnant – but they should only be occasional.
3. You need to keep yourself well hydrated. Marathon training means running lots of miles, lots of sweaty miles. It is important to keep up on your hydration needs since dehydration causes your performance to decline and your health to suffer. It’s also important to remain well hydrated during pregnancy. Your body needs extra fluids to increase your blood volume and to properly support your growing baby. When I started getting pregnancy calf cramps at night I quickly realized that I wasn’t meeting my hydration needs (even though I felt like I was drinking a lot and going to the bathroom a lot!). I upped my water intake and the cramps disappeared.
4. You need more rest. When your body is working hard, either due to running lots of miles or to growing another human being, you need more sleep. I’m not normally a “napper,” but the times I’ve embraced them are when I’m running high mileage and during pregnancy.
5. You feel mixed emotions about the “big event.” Whether the big event is a race or delivering a baby, it’s normal to feel a mix of excitement, uncertainty, nervousness, and even fear. When you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing for a big event there are usually a lot of emotions involved. If I start to feel overwhelmed I try find a way to relax and think about something else for a while.
6. You need to learn to control what you can and accept what you can’t. There are a lot of unknowns that come come with marathon training and pregnancy, and while you try to prepare as best you can, there is still an element of the unknown. For marathoners, things like the weather and unexpected illness or injuries may throw you off your game if you don’t adapt to the conditions. Same with pregnancy. You may experience symptoms or complications you didn’t expect. The best thing you can do in each situation is to accept, adapt, and hope for the best.
7. You shouldn’t neglect your flexibility. It’s easy for muscles to become tight when you are running lots of miles, and they can also become tight during pregnancy when you are carrying around extra weight. I’ll admit that I don’t like stretching, but I do like how I feel after I do. When marathon training I find stretching helps me to avoid injury and run better, and during pregnancy I’ve found it helps to maintain my range of motion despite significant changes in my body.
8. You need to get used to being uncomfortable. When marathon training, especially if shooting for a specific time, some of your runs are going to be hard. Speed work, tempo runs, and long runs are all meant to push your fitness to new levels, but pushing to new levels is uncomfortable. Pregnancy also involves discomfort. In the first trimester it can involve morning sickness, and in the third trimester simple things like tying your shoes and rolling over in bed can be awkward and uncomfortable. Granted they are different feelings of discomfort (running discomfort ends after the workout whereas third trimester pregnancy discomfort doesn’t end until after birth), but either way you just have to suck it up and get used to it (and maybe whine a little in the process).
9. You always have a great excuse. Want to leave a boring party early? Tell people you have an early morning training run and everyone understands. Or say “I’m pregnant” and you don’t have to say anything more. Want a massage? Nothing merits massages more than lots of training or being pregnant. Whether it’s due to marathon training or pregnancy, people know you are working hard and are more willing to cut you a little slack 🙂
10. It helps to keep your eye on the prize. It’s common to ask yourself “why am I doing this” when you’re getting up early day after day to run or heading out to run after long days at work. When you’re pregnant, it’s also easy to get bogged down with how slowly pregnancy seems to pass and how your belly keeps getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. In both cases it can help to remember why you are going through this – it’s for the “prize” at the end. For marathoners, all the training is worth it when you cross the finish line. For moms-to-be, every pregnancy ache, pain, and difficulty is worth it to be able to bring your little baby into the world.