Thursday, 31 March 2016

What pregnancy has taught me about running

I have been running for quite a few years now and BC (before children) I would always be striving to beat my PBs or go further than I've run before. I was a speed and distance freak. I began with a few 10kms, then found my time crept down from 60 minutes to around the 45 minute mark. (The sub 40 still eludes me. Bah!)

Then I thought I would try some half marathons and was elated at coming in at under 2 hours for my first half. This gradually came down to 1:38. Again, I wanted more - sub 1:30 for sure!! Confidence creeping up I entered my first marathon and sneaked under the 4 hour barrier. Good yes, but I wanted to do better. I'm now at 3:38 and sure one day I'll go sub 3:30. "More, more, more" I said, so signed up for and completed the Marathon des Sables - 150 miles of desert running. The most crazy, amazing experience ever.

This is what running is like. You start off small, and see gradual improvements. You want more. You begin entering races and end up constantly chasing your times to try to recreate that feeling of joy of crossing the finish line having run a good, fast race. You start running further, and think "well how far could I go", and so run further to see where your limits really are.

Then you get pregnant. And your body is not really your own anymore. You have a life inside of you to take care of. PBs will have to wait. Distances will have to wait. But that's ok.

Pregnancy has reminded me that it really does not matter how far or fast you run. The real enjoyment is in just running. I sometimes lost sight of that before becoming pregnant. I can now plod out about a 10 minute mile for a couple of miles and that's me done, but I get as much enjoyment from that as from running a fast 10km race. The satisfaction is in putting your trainers on and getting out of the door into the fresh air, and doing your best - whatever that may be. I know that any form of exercise in later pregnancy is good going so I'm proud of what I am able to achieve here and now.

Running is such a great leveller. It is enjoyed by young and old, large and small. You can compete against others or just yourself, or run just for the pure joy of running. Do not compare yourself to anybody else. Instead, embrace the fact that there are so many different sorts of runners out there. Some run 5km, some 100 miles.

Whether you are embarking on a "couch to 5km" programme or going hell for leather for a sub 3:!5 elite marathon pace, the beauty of running is in setting your own goals for this point in your life, and ultimately remembering how running should make you feel - bloody brilliant.

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