Running is very important to me. I started running my freshman year in high school and have been running off and on ever since. When I look back at my teens and twenties, I can easily identify my happy, healthy years based on running. If I wasn’t incorporating the routine of lacing up the shoes, layering my jog bras, and painstakingly planning heart-pounding mixes to keep me pounding the pavement- inevitably I was playing or paying too much elsewhere: sleeping too late in the mornings; partying too hard in the evenings; struggling with what I ate at meals; fighting my relationship with my body; or slacking off too much in my work.
Running has kept me grounded in more ways than (the literal) one. I always work it out when I am running- whatever “it” may be; Body issues, boy issues, bank account issues, baby issues- I’ve had them all, and running has always been my most honest and helpful therapist, friend, financial advisor, and fertility specialist. I can’t NOT toss things around in my mind until finally my mind is blank, my focus is simply on breathing and stride, pace, and…pride. It feels good to TCB (take care of business)- even if the feeling is temporary, it’s empowering. Running prioritizes everything for me. Doing it is the answer. Nike didn’t just create a great advertising campaign when they implored us all to “just do it”, they articulated a mantra that underscores the significance of putting it all out there, letting go of excuses (and the ego) and simply taking action.
At age 34, nine months after I ran my second marathon, I got pregnant with my daughter. Initially I ran, but I found I was too exhausted to enjoy it and gracefully gave up running for the remainder of my pregnancy, choosing instead to just enjoy the miracle (and the milk duds!) guilt-free. This time around, however, has been a different story. I was in the very early days of training for my 3rd marathon when I got pregnant. The winter of endless snowfall (and 2 miscarriages in 2014) had taken a toll on me, and I was more out of shape than I liked, so I signed up for a marathon to keep myself focused on my fitness (not my fertility).
When I got pregnant I quickly realized a marathon at 28 weeks would prove impossible for me. I resolved to run 2-3 miles 2-3 times a week to keep my stamina and maintain a “base layer” of shape. Then, a little more than 2 months into my pregnancy I began experiencing vertigo and – coupled with nausea and general malaise – couldn’t keep on track with my running plan. Now, half way through this pregnancy, I am struggling to reconcile my desire to exercise with my reality: I am heavier and rounder and…not doing it. I’ll be 39 when I give birth in January and everything already feels difficult. I don’t want to stress about not being able to run (my go-to stress-reliever).
So…what do I do now that my plan to run throughout this pregnancy has failed? Glad you asked!
I’ve decided to swim for the remainder of my pregnancy! Swimming helped me immensely when I used it in concordance with training for my second marathon. I shaved almost a minute off my mile thanks to the addition of swimming. So, my hope is that September, October, November, and December will be filled with the smell of chlorine and a face imprinted with goggle marks around the eyes. I’m looking forward to finding things to focus on underwater to keep me from counting numbers and listing my lap count over and over and over again. I’m excited to have time to myself in the water, to be at peace with myself in the zone before baby #2 arrives and rocks my whole world. I’m thinking Dori’s mantra (from Finding Nemo) will do the trick: I’ll “just keep swimming” and never stop running it like a mom.