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Training for a marathon and preparing for pregnancy are very similar

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 8 2013 4:54 p.m. MDT

As I began training for the St. George Marathon, my husband and I decided we wanted to have another child. As I traded morning runs for morning sickness, and a tight tummy for one that was stretched out, I found that the two were very similar. (Shutterstock) As I began training for the St. George Marathon, my husband and I decided we wanted to have another child. As I traded morning runs for morning sickness, and a tight tummy for one that was stretched out, I found that the two were very similar. (Shutterstock)

This past Saturday was the day I was to run my fifth St. George Marathon. Due to my time the year before, I was awarded “elite” status, allowing me the chance to run the race free of charge.

As I looked forward to the race in 2013, and as I planned out my training schedule, there was something that didn't feel quite right. Call it what you may — a feeling of intuition, a mother's instinct, whatever you think it is — I had a strong feeling that we needed to have another child.

And, if you know anything about training for a marathon, you know that it takes many months, and often a good year of training to get in peak form. Having a baby and training for a marathon in that space of time weren't both possible.

So, I replaced my long runs and speed training for short, slow runs and walks; early morning runs for morning sickness, and my tight tummy for a stretched-out belly. And as I spent the next nine months preparing to have a baby — who was coincidentally due the same week as the marathon — I noticed that training for a marathon and preparing to have a baby are not too dissimilar. Here are some reasons why:

They both take planning: Whether the pregnancy is “planned” or not, once you find that you are expecting, there are certain things you must do to plan and prepare for before baby comes. If you show up to the hospital on delivery day not having prepared yourself, it will not be a good experience. The same is true for training for a marathon. Going out and running a marathon without having trained will make for a long, brutal 26.2 miles.

There are set appointments or training dates that need to be made. Just as doctor appointments are made to check on the progress of the pregnancy, and to diagnose problems in order to make adjustments, this is also done in marathon training. While training for a marathon, you have scheduled workouts within your training that not only better prepare you for the marathon, but also give you a good indication of how your progress is. And depending on how you are doing, you make the appropriate adjustments to help you succeed in your goal.

Both require several changes in wardrobe. While marathon training, you will go through many pairs of shoes. You may even find you need to buy new clothes to accommodate your shrinking waistline. And in pregnancy, it is a well-known fact that due to an ever-expanding waistline, expectant mothers will experience a few wardrobe changes throughout those nine months.

Breathing is essential. Just as rhythmic breathing is used for pushing through pain and keeping pace during a run, the same technique is used during labor, and for the very same reasons: to push through pain and remain calm.

It is helpful to have a good cheering section. Just as the cheers from family members will give you the extra help you need to get through the last part of the marathon, having the doctors, nurses and your husband there to help you get through labor and delivery is essential.

There can be setbacks. Many women experience sicknesses, fatigue, pain and discomfort, with some difficulties even appearing at the very end. Likewise, during marathon training, it isn't uncommon to experience an injury or series of injuries. When these things happen, it is difficult to push through, but the goal or prize at the end is what keeps you going. Which brings me to my final point:

The feeling you get when you have met your goal is indescribable. When you finally cross that finish line, get that medal placed around your neck and realize what you just accomplished, an overwhelming feeling that is difficult to describe comes over you. The feeling is very similar to when a woman gives birth, when you have given all you have, and with that final push, your baby is placed in your arms and a euphoric feeling comes over you. You accomplished something so beyond words, and the reward is greater than you could have ever imagined.

As I gaze at my now-2-week-old son, I can't imagine a better prize to be had.

Arianne Brown is a mother of six who loves running the beautiful trails around Utah. For more articles by Arianne, "like" her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter @arimom5, or visit her blog, timetofititin.com.

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