Learning to listen to my body

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.

RNR AZ 2004

RNR AZ 2004

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.

Despite being on the course for over eight hours at this point, I was having FUN!

Ironman Arizona 2010

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.

Physio1

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.

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Ironman Canada 2012

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Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2013

IMCAWhistlerRun

Ironman Canada – Whistler 2013

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.

FreezingRun

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.

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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.

My last run at 31 weeks.

My last run at 31 weeks.

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?

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29 responses to “Learning to listen to my body

  1. Beautifully written! I’m still learning what works best for my body, but I do a fairly good job of listening to the cries for rest, it’s the push for a little bit more that I struggle with.

  2. Our bodies really are amazing. And you are doing a great job listening to what yours wants and responding properly. Trust me, in a few weeks when that bambino is here, you’ll be glad for the extra rest you gave your body in advance!

  3. Fantastic post – I love the wistful yet optimistic tone to it. So excited for you, and congrats in advance for the baby to come!

  4. You just amaze me, in more ways than one!! Listening to your body is all you can do!

  5. I love this post! I can’t imagine how hard it must be at times to put that desire to push your body to physical extreme in training aside, but it’ll all be worth it! And I’m very confident that your body will do great with childbirth and recovery afterward, no matter what happens that day.

  6. You are so right – this is the most important time of all to listen to your body and you have done it so well!! I can’t believe that you are just over 9 months – any day now you will meet your little sweetie!!!

  7. That is such an interesting post. You are doing a great comparison. I tend to think you were able to truly and efficiently listen to your body during your pregnancy because you are used to do it in sports. You may not have always followed what it wanted to tell you during training or races but you were already in tune with it.

    Also, another interesting aspect for me is the fact you say it’s difficult to see your body changing and loosing your fitness and muscles. I can totally understand that. I am asking myself lots of questions about it for the future. I enjoy so much being in good shape, pushing again the limits that I know I am not ready, just yet, to give up that for having a baby (I know it sounds really selfish…).

  8. You are so amazing!!! Sounds like you are great at listening to your body!! Sounds like you are doing great but ready for the adventure that awaits you!! It must be go time soon!!?!!?!
    I listen ok I think. I take a break if I think I need to. I try and have as good an off season as I can! 🙂

  9. Debbie @ Deb Runs

    “Listen to your body” is one of the first things I tell my new runners. It’s important for everyone, but especially important for mommies-to-be! Take care of yourself and before you know it, you’ll be back out there training hard again.

  10. Great determination! Take my hat off to you!

  11. You have done an amazing job so far and I am sure your body will do great things over the next month or two. You’ve got this 🙂

  12. I really believe your history will help you through this latest “race”! Great post!

  13. Great post! You are doing so fabulous w/ your pregnancy. I think it’s a lot easier to listen to your body when you’re pregnant because you’re actually hurting another person if you don’t. I can’t wait to see baby pics! 🙂

  14. Time flies… I can’t believe you’re full-term already! So excited for you, friend, and can’t wait to hear the news! You are so in tune with your body – important in all aspects of life, whether it’s training or having a baby! Thinking of you!

  15. What a great post Abby! I am learning how to listen to my body and know that will be tough for me when I am pregnant. Some days I am better than others. Today my body says that I need a physical and emotional break but I know I will have to push myself back into GO mode tomorrow. Always a delicate balance!

  16. oh
    you had me at EACH TIME IT REBUILT.
    here too.
    mentally and physically.

  17. I just found your blog and youa re amazing! Listening to your body is so important. I want to get stronger and be able to do it all and lately that means being okay with eating more and having bigger lady quads!

  18. When the baby comes, it’s going to be amazing, you’re going to meet a new you that you never new existed. I haven’t experienced this myself, but I’ve seen friends go through it. Congratulations when your little one arrives!

  19. Better now than I used to be that’s for sure!
    You are so much better prepared for all this body-wise than I was before I had B. I know how scary it is (for me it was a major fear of the unknown!), the physical birth part is such a small piece of the rest of your lives together as a new little family. I am SO excited that you are on this journey. You’re going to be the coolest mom. ❤

  20. Oh, how I can relate to this post in so many ways. 😉 It’s been inspiring to watch you grow and change along this journey – and this is only the beginning. Listening to and learning about your body is so important, and it sounds like you have made the investment worthwhile. Thank you for the great reminder – you are superwoman!!! I am so excited for you and can’t wait until your little one is here!!!

  21. Christie @ The Weekday Table

    Hey! This is such an inspiring post. I have never been great to truly listening to my body (instead of my mind)… you are inspiring me so much to strive to do so! You have done some INCREDIBLE things, and I know that your little one will also be as inspired (probably more) by you as I am!
    http://www.theweekdaytable.wordpress.com

  22. Awesome post!! It sounds like you are treating yourself (and your little bambino) right.

  23. Pingback: Workouts and running through pregnancy – third trimester | Change of Pace

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