As someone who has pushed my body pretty far at times, and learned so much about it in the process, this pregnancy journey has taught me even more.
For years I was a runner. I started running cross-country and track in grade 7 then joined a club and ran even more. I realized the longer the distance the better I did. So, I started running road races.
Then came the longer distances: my first half marathon when I was 18 and my first marathon at 20. I trained for my first 26.2, but not well, and body and heart carried me across that finish line.
Then I asked my body to do things that, many times, I never thought I could do.
I started to road bike and was talked into a half iron and full iron distance triathlon at 26-years-old.
I trained, I hurt, I prepared as best I knew how. I fueled my body. I nourished it. And I took care of it when it needed special care.
I also ignored it at times. (Ok, many times over the years I’ve ignored it and gone on that run or bike when it needed rest.)
I took these steps three more times at 28 and 29-years-old.
I asked it to bike in extreme heat, run in snow and windchills of -40, hold together for X more miles when it was tired, hungry, and hurting.
My body answered me each time.
It has climbed many mountains. It has strength trained. It has carried me very long distances – up to 140 miles at a time. It has gone fast and it has gone slow.
I’ve beaten it down and each time it rebuilt. It listened to me.
Just like any relationship should give and take, it sends signals to let me know when enough is enough.
It took nine months to conceive this baby, and over that nine months I had to listen really hard to what my body was asking. It wasn’t always easy to drop the miles lower and lower, and add some weight to my hard-earned muscles, without knowing how it would respond.
I hesitantly continued to listen to my body. It gave me so much when I pushed it to new limits for years.
Once I got pregnant, I realized I was good at listening to what my body needed. And most importantly, I knew I had to listen to it.
Run, but slower. Take a nap. Exercise to help ‘morning’ sickness, even though you’re tired. Keep up strength training. Drink more water. Do more yoga. Stop running. Stay active, whatever that means on any given day. Rest more.
I am now over nine months along, the same amount of time it took to get pregnant. I barely recognize myself physically, and I just don’t feel like….me. I crave a good sweat session but know that it will come in time.
I am tired. My back and my hips hurt, and this time it isn’t from going that extra mile, not refueling properly after a hard session, or being hunched over a bike for hours at a time.
This is my body preparing for something new, something it hasn’t done before, and something that scares me. (Sounds kind of like how I’ve felt before every new race distance and almost every race!)
It’s been refreshing to listen to my body, and truly listen to it. To let it tell me what it needs instead of my constant demands on it.
I have faith we’ll make it, just as we have done before. And next time I’m training for a race, I hope to take that time to stop and really listen to what my body needs. After all, it’s done some amazing things.
How good are you at listening to your body?