A pregnant perspective on professional running…or in simple words-“what pregnancy has taught me about being a professional runner.”
When I think about the term “professional”, I envision a person performing their job to high standards, which is something that I always felt like I did. However, it took training while pregnant for me to really take a hard look and re-evaluate my pre-pregnancy training.
This is both embarrassing and humbling at the same time. Don’t get me wrong. I held myself to high standards and expected the very best of myself each day…but now I realize it was only in certain aspects of my running career. Basically, I suffered from what I like to call the “distance runner mindset” (did I just say ‘distance’ runner? I mean ‘middle-distance’, obviously!). The “distance runner mindset” is the internal need that many endurance runners feel to get in their weekly mileage through the routine of long runs, workouts, etc. The sole focus of the “distance runner mindset” is on running/mileage. What this mindset fails to cover are the “small things” or the supplemental things that go along with the job. The irony of it all? It’s those small things that are what keep our bodies healthy and strong enough to run in the first place.
Sure, there are many professional runners out there who already have this figured out. I thought I did too actually…that was until I got pregnant. You see, the thing I have learned about pregnancy and training is that my body is almost always on the verge of injury. I know that sounds weird to say but what I’m trying to convey is that I am just in a more fragile state then I am used to operating under. I have already had to overcome quite a few hurdles such as pelvic girdle pains and muscle strains. With each new hurdle, Darren has had to adapt my training on the fly. We have adopted a “I get knocked down, but I get up again” type of mentality and so far, we have always been able to successfully get back up again. A major part of that success has been due to my new outlook on the “small things”.
The small things for me have included stretching, corrective exercises, weight lifting and getting weekly physical treatment for my body. Pre-pregnancy, when it came to stretching or weight lifting, I was always just trying to rush through. I knew it was “important” but I didn’t expect nearly as much from myself as I did when it came to say something like a track workout. Pregnancy has changed that mindset. Now that I realize how dependent my running days are on doing these supplemental aspects of training, I no longer rush through and take the short cuts. I attentively go through stretches and corrective exercises after each workout (usually with “let’s make a deal” playing in the background!). I also see a chiropractor weekly, which is something I haven’t done since college. I am more diligent about scheduling ART appointments even if something isn’t wrong yet and have scheduled physical therapy appointments as well. It’s almost like I have a new respect for my body and myself. On those days when running isn’t an option, I am grateful for the workouts I can do such as going through my weight routine and focusing on correct form.
Slowly, I am learning to embrace the “small things” in training with the same mentality that I employ for my running. I am learning to adapt my “distance runner mentality” to include more then just pounding the pavement or track with mile after mile. Training during my pregnancy has really forced me pay just as much attention to my squats, lunges and jump rope as I do to each interval I run. NOW, I just need to make sure that I remember all this post-pregnancy (at least I will have this blog post for Darren to wave under my nose if I slack off!).