Running is a lot like child-birth. And I know what you’re saying… “I pushed out a kid but I can’t run.” Actually, running is a lot like being pregnant. Mostly because both of them afford you the opportunity to become very well-attuned to your body. Before being pregnant, if I had a pain somewhere inside – say, indigestion or gas pains – it was just a sort of internal annoyance and half the time I couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. After being pregnant where I analyzed every single tiny movement on the inside, I can now tell what all ails me. I can better feel what my body is trying to tell me.
Similarly, running makes you assess your aches. You get to know tiny places on your body you may have previously neglected. I never really cared much about the backside of my knee or the underside of my ribcage or my left hip. But depending on the grade of hill or the pavement or the temperature, each part in pain presents itself in different ways and you have to pay attention to them. I like this part about running. It makes me mentally aware of myself, probably more than I want to be. But it is almost exactly the same awareness as having a small person inside me. I don’t think you can ever explain to someone who has never carried a child the pain that reverberates throughout your core when you’re in labor. It is so body-deep and unlike anything I have ever experienced before… except the way I felt after my first long race. Not the same, but similar. It is a pain like no other.
I am happy that I have undertaken both child-bearing and long distance running. If nothing else, they have been battles of will; mental challenges, despite the physical aspects. In pregnancy, you want it to end for god’s sakes and some days, you’d be willing to have that child forcibly removed so you wouldn’t have to be pregnant one more effing day. In running, though your legs keep moving, you just want to stop sometimes, lay down and just be still because it’s so. long. OMG. But with both, you push on through because you know it doesn’t last forever and the end result is so worth it.
With Saturday being race day, I keep reminding myself that, physically, I can do it. I’m not worried about that part. The last go-round of training – my first time – was hard. Every long run (every run after, say, 8 miles) was awful. I was sore for days after. This time I experienced none of that. It was all mental. My legs and my lungs held up just fine. I easily discourage myself so it will only be a matter of convincing my brain to shut the hell up and let me find my zone, that comfortable spot where I’m on auto-pilot and miles pass before I know it and there’s the finish line, edging closer. And if that goes well, I’m going to run another one. And if it makes sense… I may even have another kid. Who knows?