Long distance running is (kind of) like giving birth

Last weekend my husband and I ran a half marathon. It was his second, and my fourth. However, it was the first time we’ve run a race together. I usually manage to motivate myself pretty well, but I hadn’t run a half since 2009, and I knew I’d need a little extra encouragement. The half he did this summer went well (he finished just under 2 hours), so he  didn’t feel any pressure to push himself, and ran along with me for the whole 2 hours and 22 minutes it took me to finish. Which is actually my second best time, after the first one I ran in 2007 in 2:10. And just in case you’re interested, I did one in Germany in 2008 in 2:38 (I blame the hail), and another in Annecy in 2009 in 2:27.

Even if it was my second best race, this was a hard one for me, despite the gorgeous weather and totally flat route. While running long distance is really nothing like giving birth, in some ways, it kind of is . . .

  • I pictured it going a certain way, but it was different than I’d imagined
  • Breathing was very important
  • The food and water provided was not sufficient
  • At various moments I felt terribly sick
  • I said things like “This was a stupid idea,” “I can’t do this,” and “Ahhh everything hurts!”
  • My husband was wonderfully encouraging and said things like “You can do this!” “You’re doing great!” “I’m so proud of you!” “Just a little longer!”
  • After a certain point, words were impossible, and I communicated via grunts
  • It seemed endless, but actually went quicker than expected
  • Walking the day after was all sorts of painful
  • While it was happening, I was sure I would never do it again, yet once the pain faded, I started to think “Maybe another wouldn’t be so bad . . .”

It was my husband’s encouragement that first made me think of all the similarities, since he was saying, word for word, the exact same things as during labor. And just like last July, he saw how hard it was for me and helped me the best he could, but in the end, no one else could do it for me, I had to do it myself.

I’m not in any way an expert in running, or giving birth, but having someone there next to you the whole time rooting for you definitely makes a difference!

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