Last Run

There’s nothing like a great trail run to de-stress.

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?

I have fun trying to sprint, enjoy long runs in the mountains, and everything in between. Former competitive runner (3 x marathon OTQ & trail marathon national champion) currently working through a lingering injury. I write about trying to stay competitive while raising young kids and moving into a new post-competitive stage.

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  1. I’m so sorry to hear this! Nonetheless I’m glad that you and Baby #3 are doing what you gotta do to get him or her here with you both safe and healthy!

  2. Parsley-
    I can currently relate to you more than you know. I am 28 weeks pregnant (fortunately a healthy pregnancy), but I was forced to stop running 8 LOOOONG weeks ago. I ran through my first pregnancy, and was in the best shape of my running life when I became pregnant this time around. I was easily running 40+ miles a week and racing even through my rough first trimester. Eight weeks ago, I was on an easy training run and was run over by a vehicle in a crosswalk. The baby was fine, but my foot was not. Three fractured metatarsals. I was devastated! I was supposed to run a half in 4 days! I even had to defer or suck up the cost of 5 other races I had planned. I was non weight bearing for 5 weeks and partial weight bearing for two weeks. I just started a walking and cycling program last week. I’m not allowed to run until July and I’ll be somewhere around 32 or 33 weeks pregnant. I miss running dearly. When I couldn’t bear full weight, I was so depressed and had a hard time dealing with my friends racing and training together. All I could do to make myself happy was to go to all of their races and surround myself by my awesome running community. I cried the day my doc said I could start walking and cycling. I was so thankful! I had to force myself to find joy in the things I could do…that’s not easy! My mind is always in training mode, so I decided to make new goals for the things I can do or I will go freaking insane. I know things are really hard right now, but I promise, from personal experience, you will find joy…eventually…in the things you are allowed to do! I pray for great news every time you see the doctor!

    1. Oh my goodness, that sounds awful. Getting run over by a car when pregnant? I’m so glad your baby is ok. That’s good that you can at least walk/cycle. That’s probably the hardest part for me- I’m not supposed to do any exercise. I could be fine w/out not running as long as I could do something, but sitting here doing nothing is what’s driving me crazy! I’ll be interested to hear how it is to start back running at 32 or 33 weeks…your body will be quite different than it was at 20 weeks. I’m sure in some ways it will feel great to get back out there, but in others very hard to start running with more weight on your front!

  3. So sorry to read this. I can relate. We had a scare early on with the second pregnancy and it was very difficult to restrain myself from googling/webMDing things and stressing myself out. In the end, everything was fine, but it certainly was a bumpy road getting there. Sending you lots of positive and healthy thoughts and I hope everything checks out ok.

  4. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been benched, but glad you are able to have a good attitude about it! I wasn’t allowed to run for 12 weeks during and after my pregnancy, and 11 years later I was put on the DL in December by a back injury and didn’t run a step for almost 5 months. While the very thought of that might make some competitive runners want to curl up into a ball and die, I have chosen to take both of these breaks as gifts. During my pregnancy I just slowed down, rested more, and took it easy. And this time around, I’ve made it a priority to take advantage of this time off to really confront the stressors in my life instead of burying them under my training and racing. Honestly both situations have been fantastic gifts, and I can wholeheartedly say that I have grown in confidence and contentment more during these layoffs than in any period of training.

    I hope you have a great break and that you and your baby remain healthy and strong!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you were able to take those difficult times and turn them into something good. I agree that it’s good for your body to take a break sometimes. Even though I ran through both my other pregnancies, and eased back into it afterwards, it was a break from doing anything hard or competing. I think that has really helped contribute to a long career and kept some my body healthy. What’s different this time is things are out of my control, which is something I probably need to deal with and find contentment with.