Monday, February 08, 2010

Marathon Training vs. Labor Training

Last Sunday, one of my very best friends ran her first marathon. She trained diligently for over five months for the perfect race experience, only to end up with an injured IT band 4 weeks before the big day. She went to PT every other day in the remaining weeks, did all her stretches and exercises, discussed all her options with her therapist, mentally prepared herself and in the end, decided to just run the full, get out there and see what happened.

What happened was four miles into the 26.2 mile journey, her knee started bothering her and she went from her 9:30-10:00minute/mile pace to a 13:00-14:00 minute/mile pace. She ended up finishing about an hour and half slower than she had trained for all those months and cried pretty much every step of the way.

But when she called me afterwards to tell me about her race, she still had that sound of amazement and joy of someone who just ran her first marathon. Sure, she said she was never going to run another one again (who hasn’t said that after their first marathon?). Sure, she said it was the most painful, strenuous, exhausting thing she could ever imagine doing. But even still, you could tell she was amazed by her will, astounded by her body and proud of her accomplishment and the fact that she didn’t give up, even though it really, really, REALLY sucked. I know in a few months or maybe even weeks, she will have fleeting thoughts of her next big race. She knows she could’ve done it better if the situation were different. She put in all the training and was doing great for weeks. But no matter how much preparation you put into it, you just never know what you’re going to get on race day.

Which reminds me of something my wise husband said to me a few weeks back.

One afternoon, I was sitting there listing off all of the things I wanted and did not want for the delivery of Bean and the endless ways I was going to make sure these things happened. Jeremy just lovingly smiled and then gently reminded me that preparing for labor and delivery (and parenthood for that matter) is like training for a marathon. You can train and prepare all you want for the perfect race experience, but when the big day comes, you only have so much control over what cards you are dealt and you have to be mentally prepared for many different game plans.

How did my husband become so smart all of the sudden?

It really is funny how true this statement is. And all runners/parents can relate to it.

As soon as you sign up for the big race or see that positive pregnancy test, the first thought through your head is:

“What the hell did I just get myself into?”

When that wears off, it’s time to prepare.

First you get a ticker.
(marathon ticker/pregnancy ticker)

Then, you need to figure out what kind of outcome you want.
(run for fun, a new PR/ natural childbirth, epidural, c-section)

What plan do you need to adopt to make sure you meet your goal? (Galloway, Higdon/Lamaze, Bradley, Hyponobirth,)

Then there is the need to read everything you possibly can on the subject.
(Born to Run, Runners World/ What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Ina May’s The Guide to Childbirth).

Not only in print but online.
(Running Lounge, running blogs, running forums, bump, baby blogs, pregnancy forums,

There is the change of diet.
(Eating healthier to lose weight, finding something that wont upset your stomach on a run, loading up on carbs/eating healthier to gain weight, finding something that wont upset your stomach in the first trimester, loading up on everything for no good reason)

There is endless product comparison and shopping for your new obsession.
(running shoes, running clothes, gels/ strollers, car seats, diaper rash cream)

There are the friends who can relate to you and LOVE to talk about their experiences.
(marathon runners who will tell you how AWESOME it is and how you should follow their training plan, marathon runners who only want to talk about their horrible race experiences and try to scare you/ mothers who will tell you how AWESOME labor and delivery are and how you are dumb if you do it any other way, mothers who only want to talk about how horrible their labor experience was and try to scare you)

And friends who totally cannot relate to you.
(Why would you EVER want to run a marathon? /Are you sure you’re ready to have kids?)

Then, it's time to taper. And the real obsession begins...

This Wednesday, I will be 37 weeks. That's officially full-term. My taper is about to begin.

And no matter how much I've prepared. No matter how perfect I want everything to be, I know I can only obsess so much. Because on that day, it's out of my control. I just need to show up prepared and focused, but with an open mind and ability to trust myself if I need to switch game-plans at the last minute.

No matter how the race unfolds, this time I'm coming home with the best medal yet. A definite PR.


My Life said...

Adore this post. Bean has a very wise mama!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

Great post! So true.

Where did that time go. congrats on 37 weeks. I am sure you are so excited. I will keep you and bean in my prayers as your big days get closer and closer.

Anonymous said...

What a great post! I have my next marathon on Sunday, so this struck a cord with me. Good luck with your delivery! Bean has the coolest parents!!


joyRuN said...

Very awesome post, Laurel. And same as with the marathon, all that childbirth pain gets forgotten as soon as you have your sweet Bean in your arms :)

PS - I never planned to be a screamer during labor. Best laid plans ;)

Denise said...

Best post ever!!!

I can't believe it's been 37 weeks already! It went so fast...for me. :-) Rest up and take care of yourself!

Marlene said...

Ohmigosh, how true is this?! Excellent post!

I love the comparisons.

Anonymous said...

Very true! Love your last sentence. You will be coming home with a PR and the journey will be well worth it.

Heather said...

What a great post and so true! Hope you have a great "taper" and a comfortable last few weeks of pregnancy.

Q, La, and Gooner said...

Ha, I love this! So true! I LOVED (read that in sarcastic tone please) all the freaky labor stories. One OLD WOMAN (read that wrinkles, so like a long time ago) told me to remember to remind my doctor that I didn't want to be handcuffed to the bed because "they do that sometimes if you can't handle the labor pains." Oh really? I freaked out until I read that they don't do that anymore. Love it. Love it ALL.

teacherwoman said...

Great analogy girl! You are so ready for this!

Unknown said...

This was sooo well put! I thought of my pregnancy the same way and you know what? I had a not so good labour, but it was still a PR. All the training in the world can't control what happens, but it's all in how you handle it afterwards anyways. Good luck and congrats on full term!

streak said...

great post and very true. Tapering/waiting is the hardest part but will be rewarded and forgotten soon with more love then one can imagine. The best of luck and looking forward to the race report/ birth story post!

Before I'm 35 said...

And I love this post :)

The worst part of the pregnancy taper for my husband was that he couldn't drink his evening beer because he was always afraid I would go into labor! (He usually only drinks one - I can't imagine that would have laid him out so much that he would have had a problem getting to the hospital).

I remember my OB telling me about the birth experience that the little one is really the one in charge for the whole day - he or she will take care of your birth plan for you. Just be able to roll with the punches!

MCM Mama said...

And just like with a marathon, you'll quickly forget the pain and the things that didn't go as planned and only remember the awesome feeling of accomplishment and the "medal" at the end.

Looking forward to "meeting" your new little one.

X-Country2 said...

What a fantastic post! Perfect for me this summer. Good luck with the home stretch.

test said...

agreed! this post was awesome. i forgot how much i enjoyed reading your blog!

bean has some amazing parents.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Awesome post! Congrats and can't wait to read the post about "the big day"

Carolina John said...

fantastic post. that is one smart husband you've got there.

Christina said...

True enough. I have planned, trained, prepared and come up with a sore throat 3 days before the marathon.

Lily on the Road said...

Congrat's to your friend, she finished, she is part of a very elite group now and she should be proud.

Love your wisdom Laurel, the "bean" has very clever parents....

Anonymous said...

I love this! So very true :)

Christie said...

Love this post! You are well prepared.

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