If I had known last Sunday was going to be my last run, for possibly a long time, I would have gone further. I would have savored the fresh air, enjoyed the scenery despite running down a sidewalk near a business park, and relished the heaviness of my breath and tiredness of my legs. Instead, I took it all for granted, assuming I would wake up the next morning and do the same thing again.
A late trip to the ER that evening changed everything, as I suddenly became a high risk pregnancy with complications arising early in my second trimester.
I have been lucky. My first two pregnancies and childbirths were free from complications. I won’t say easy, because those endless months of morning/afternoon/evening sickness left me never wanting to go through it again, and it wouldn’t be fair to say twenty hours of intense labor was a walk in the park. But being pregnant did not prevent me from running. I ran up until the day I delivered with both of my girls, and resumed running again two weeks after each birth. I naturally assumed the third would be the same.
My initial reaction when the doctor prescribed me “no running” was disbelief. How long would this last? If it continued for the duration of my pregnancy, it would by far be the longest stretch of my life without running. Couldn’t she understand that I’m a competitive runner, anxious to stay fit so I can get back into it after having this baby?
In my follow-up appointment a few days later, I was hopeful my other doctor would give me the “all clear” to resume exercise. Instead, he also cautioned me to “take it easy, and do nothing strenuous.” I explained to him that I’m an avid runner, and mother of two active young kids. Could he explain a little more precisely what the limits of “taking it easy” were? He defined this as “do self-care and care for your children. No heavy lifting, limited time on your feet, and definitely no running.”
As we drove home from the hospital my husband tried to sympathize how he knew “no running” would be difficult for me. But while he spoke, I realized I didn’t care.
Running is a huge part of my life, but putting things in perspective, it suddenly didn’t matter anymore. Running will come back, and will always be there waiting for me when my body is ready again. But right now the only thing that matters to me is making it to full-term with this baby. I will gladly give up running, and any form of exercise, to do that.
I’ve spent the past few days nervously waiting for my next weekly checkup. Hopefully I’ll be reassured that the baby looks good and everything is still on track, but in the meantime I’m desperately trying to limit my WebMD searches and I’m fearful. While every pregnancy is a waiting game and involves risks and fears and hopes and dreams that everything will turn out perfectly for yourself and your baby, I’m consumed with worry and anxiety because this one is now complicated. And that place of worrying is where I really miss running.
On a daily basis, running has been my stress relief. It’s where I have worked out any problems in my head, resolved outstanding issues, thought of new ideas. Of course I love the physical aspects of running as well as training for races and competing, but it’s the day to day runs that leave me feeling like a new person, refreshed and with a new perspective. And now, during this stressful time in my life, I miss it more than I ever thought I would have to.
Have you ever had to take a forced hiatus from running? How did you manage stress when you couldn’t go for a run?