It seems that every time a marathoner gives birth (or a mom runs a marathon), the immediate question is, “Which was harder: running a marathon or labor and delivery?” While they’re both certainly strenuous physical undertakings, the question ignores the months of physical and mental preparation that goes into both. Even though the end result may be very different, the lead-up is certainly similar.
You eat ALL of the food. Anyone who’s ever trained for a marathon (or even significantly increased their weekly mileage for any period of time) is familiar with how the runger turns your stomach into a bottomless pit. Pregnancy? Does basically the same thing. The only difference is that at some point in your pregnancy, the little dude growing inside your belly limits how much you can actually eat at once.
Speaking of eating, you get very familiar with the workings of your digestive system. In marathon training, you learn what you can and can’t eat before a training run, especially if it’s the first time you’re tackling the 26.2. Running frequently and long can do strange things to your digestive system, and most runners learn to scope out bathrooms along their routes in case of emergency. With pregnancy, let’s just say that things can change dramatically from your pre-pregnancy state, and often in a way that has you paying very close attention to your inputs and outputs.
Weird things start hurting you. You may be able to run 10 or 15 miles without any ill effects, but it’s the rare individual that can take their long runs up to 20 miles without something starting to bother them. Sometimes it’s a soreness that you expect, but often it’s something out of left field, like your back or a muscle that you never knew you had. With pregnancy, there’s a whole new category of things that can act up, from your back to your joints to your head. Either way, as soon as you think you have it figured out, that’s when something new decides to act up.
Naps become your best friend. Logging the miles necessary for a marathon is exhausting, leading many a marathoner to embrace the afternoon nap. Pregnancy, especially the first couple of months, is no different. Not only are you always tired, but you’re tired to a degree that you never thought possi … zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … Oops. Sorry. Told, you we pregnant chicks get tired!
You put in months of discomfort and preparation for the sole purpose of enduring hours of pain. Sure, pregnancy and delivery take longer than a typical marathon training cycle (and certainly longer than the marathon itself in most cases), but the end result of both of them is still a lot of pain. Which is something that you don’t think about until you have to in either case. However, for both marathoners and mothers, the final payoff is more than worth it.
For those of you who’ve done both, level with me: is labor or racing a marathon more painful?