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Runner's Bump series: Parallels of pregnancy and running

Posted by Lara Salahi  December 25, 2013 08:59 AM

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Caitlin Hurley1.jpgCaitlin Hurley of Bedford, Mass., has two children ages 5 and 8 and is pregnant with her third. She ran until 7 1/2 months into her pregnancy with her first two children and is planning on doing the same with her third, depending on how she feels.She ran the 2013 Boston Marathon in 2:58, and her next finish line will be delivering her baby late July 2014.  Each week she'll document her progress on Ultra Sound Pregnancy.

The Runner's Bump series documents one woman's pregnancy journey and her commitment to maintaining and healthy and responsible level of fitness with clearance from her physician. The views expressed are not meant to offer medical advice. Pregnant women should consult their own physician about appropriate physical activities based on their pregnancy status. 

Shhh! Don't tell but it is 8:06pm and I am in bed.  Not out at a great new restaurant with my husband, not even watching a movie On Demand with a giant bowl of microwave popcorn. But in bed under the guise of "reading". Granted, I wrote an article, ran 6 miles (after which I felt peppy for a few hours), went Christmas shopping with half the universe, played Uno with the kids and made orange chicken for dinner. But after 8? I'd eat the mint but after 8pm I am toast these days.  After putting the kids to bed, it's all I can do to brush my teeth and take out my lenses before falling into my oh-so- comfortable bed.  Like so much of pregnancy, one of the side effects I forgot about was the extreme exhaustion of the first trimester. The only other kind of fatigue I can compare it to is when I'm training for a marathon.  Maybe I feel it more because I'm 6 years older than the last time I was pregnant, and now have two to look after, but I'd like to think it's pregnancy amnesia, which is oddly similar to runners amnesia.  

The parallels between pregnancy and running are really incredible, which is why I think a lot of women (including elite runners like Kara Goucher, Paula Radcliffe, Lauren Fleshman and countless Kenyan female runners) are stronger runners after having a baby than before.  I know I am. Did you know that pregnancy is also called a coma marathon? As in running, while pregnant you need to know how to pace yourself, that your body is going through something really difficult and it is your job to maintain your energy so you can make it to the end.  Similarly, both endeavors involve endurance, resilience and the ability to push yourself further than you imagined possible. Finally, I think a bit of amnesia is essential to both running marathons and bring pregnant: if you recalled every moment, were able to conjure up the discomfort, fatigue, the moments you doubted yourself and thought you wouldn't make it, the pain so excruciating as to seem insurmountable until it somehow becomes manageable, you probably wouldn't do either again. And the after affects - adrenaline coursing through your veins, elation and not believing you - and your body- did it. Not that finishing a race can even come close to having a baby, but both events make us realize that what we as women are capable of is truly extraordinary, and we shouldn't take that for granted. Now it's time to rest, my body has a lot of work to do.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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