One year ago, I was lining up for the Olympic freaking Trials.
Now I’m eight months pregnant, and I feel like that was another lifetime ago. Did I really do that? I am still running shuffling a few days a week, but, while I realize cutting back, slowing down, or stopping entirely is a normal part of pregnancy, I have this weird blur (pregnancy brain?) about my previous running self. I am so far removed from that version of myself I struggle to picture her.
For example, I was recently in the grocery store, debating which flavors of Halo Top to buy. Unsponsored plug: Halo Top is a low-calorie, high-protein ice cream that is surprisingly delicious. Not that I don’t scarf Ben and Jerry’s as well, but sometimes it’s nice to tell yourself you’re eating ice cream for the protein.
Anyway, while I was picking out my pint, a stranger asked me for a flavor recommendation. I suggested Red Velvet, if you’re wondering. With my bump hidden under a winter coat, he asked me if I ate this healthier brand of ice cream because I was really into working out. I said no.
No? The stranger walked away before I realized that wasn’t actually true. I am really into working out. Maybe not at this particular moment, but that is a pretty big hobby in my life and a pretty essential part of my sense of self. But for some reason it felt more natural to say no, because I don’t feel like that person anymore.
And honestly, that’s the worst part about pregnancy. I’ve been blessed with a pretty easy pregnancy thus far, and what I miss most, by a landslide, since before the beginning, is being able to push myself in workouts and races. I’m not complaining. I’m super pumped to start a family and taking time away from competing is beyond worth it, no hesitations there. But the nausea, heartburn, sleepless nights, constant pee issues, back aches, 24-hour uncomfortable-ness and eight zillion other less-than-pleasant symptoms don’t have anything on the not competing. So maybe I’m repressing my former self as a coping mechanism. Telling myself and grocery store strangers that I don’t even like working out.
These days, I’m run-walking maybe three times a week, between four and six miles, with more walking and less running each time. I elliptical on some of the other days, but I also take more days off than I used to. I’ve completely given up on strength training, which I’m a bit bummed about since I promised myself early on I would at least stick to that. But I haven’t because (a) I’ve never been particularly great about keeping up with strength training and (b) I’m exhausted and there’s just too much to do, especially when getting in four miles takes almost twice as long as it used to.
So, as expected, the third trimester brought the most drastic cuts to my mileage and frequency, but I’m lucky to be
running shuffling at all. From a not-at-all scientific survey of my running friends, about half of them were able to run through their pregnancy and half hit the third trimester and had to stop, because it just got too uncomfortable. From an actual scientific survey, only 31% ran through their pregnancies.
If you’re pregnant, the most important thing is to do whatever your body is comfortable with and be happy with that. My runs take a completely different form these days than they used to, but I’m grateful to be doing anything.
Running through pregnancy is like normal training in reverse: rather than runs getting faster and easier, they get harder and slower. Obviously, that’s totally fine and necessary when your body is more focused on forming another person inside of you, and I’m running these days to keep Baby and me healthy, not because I believe these shuffle-walks will lead to some breakthrough performance down the road. That’s quite a different attitude than I usually have, so maybe that’s contributing to my different opinion of myself.
Also, I don’t know if you noticed, but pregnancy lasts a really fudging long time, so it’s been a while (i.e. exactly a year) since my competitive always-striving-to-beat-my-past-self side was allowed out. No wonder she’s been a little forgotten.
But as I jealously watch runners glide effortlessly down the road, I try to remind myself that I used to be like that. And someday I will again.
If you’ve been pregnant, did you ever miss your old competitive running self during those months?