I have less than two weeks to go until my Expected Date of Confinement (when I expect to be swept behind some heavy velvet curtains and only receive visitors by appointment) and I’ve been musing about the similarities between this point of pregnancy and running. Clearly this has little to do with my physical appearance and abilities (I nearly got stuck under the stairs the other day) but bear with me.
If you taper before a long race, you inevitably go a bit stir crazy. I have been stuck in the house waiting for deliveries (which I appreciate is somewhat apt…) and workmen, which does little for my mental health at the best of times. I want to be doing stuff but circumstances, tiredness and risk assessments (getting stuck under the stairs again would be embarassing) mean that I can’t. There is this a nagging feeling that I should be doing something. I don’t like enforced not doing stuff, however choosing not to do stuff is different….
As race day approaches I always have good intentions. I intend to eat well, abstain from alcohol, stretch, roll and cross train my little heart out. Inevitably, none of this happens. At the moment, I intend to do some yoga at home, practise my breathing and get to grips with my tens machine. Inevitably, none of this has happened. I can’t blame not having enough time to do this, I am just procrastinating.
Alongside taper madness sit a few nice imaginary ailments. Am I getting a cold? Is that a niggle in my back/hip/foot? Does my knee always make that noise when I do that with it? Pregnancy is just the same. I have been fit and well for the last 38 weeks and yet in the last few, I have
self-diagnosed invented pre-eclampsia (bit of a headache), symphysis pubis dysfunction (been sitting in a funny position for too long) and DVT (wearing unfamiliar heels to a wedding). Add to that the fact that at this point every twinge could be the onset of labour (especially at two in the morning…) and it’s all one big bucket of fun.
I know that we all run our own races, but it’s easy to get sucked into comparing ourselves with other runners (and usually not coming out well). We choose our training plans, we do what’s right for us…but then we talk to someone else and the self doubt kicks in – should I be doing something else…? Have I made the right choices…? Have I done enough…? Physical comparisons are also hard to avoid; it’s funny, as soon as you get pregnant there are pregnant women everywhere and you start looking at their bumps. I love my bump, but it was a watershed moment when I looked round the ante-natal yoga class and realised that I was the biggest one there that day (I’m also the next but one due date which is even scarier…).
Getting familiar with race day
Whilst I can plan my race day strategy as much as I want, I have absolutely no control of what happens on the day. What we have done though is get to know the course metaphorically (by going to our ante-natal classes) and actually (by visiting both of the maternity units that I might go into). Having worked at both the hospitals, I knew whereabouts in the building they are (and more importantly, where they are in relation to the canteen) but nothing about what goes on in the unit. If you’re expecting, I would definitely advice having a look round your maternity units just because it means there’s one less unknown to worry about. Also, check the parking situation and start saving up when you have your twelve week scan…