Thursday, July 19, 2012

Confessions: Of A Pregnant Runner

Since this is my first pregnancy it's been quite the rollercoaster of experiences. In the first trimester, I had a vast array of physical symptoms: nausea, irritability, breast tenderness, emotional "flexibility" (more like instability), and fatigue. Recently, I entered into the second trimester - wahoo! - and am now almost 15 weeks pregnant! I have noticed that my difficulties are now the internal struggles of insecurity and uncertainty. In this post I want to relay what sort of struggles this pregnant woman, like any woman, has had on both the heart and head level.

There is a baby in that belly!
As a runner, it is important to keep yourself consistently fit, which means maintaining your fitness level by eating healthfully, running an average number of miles per week, and cross training to keep your body free from injury. This past spring, I trained for and ran a half marathon and was in the best shape I have been in, since junior year of college (when I ran a semester's worth of cross country). I felt great and was proud of the work that I had done in order to look and feel like I did. About 3 weeks after that race, as I was recovering, we found out that I was pregnant. As we rejoiced and celebrated, I thought quietly in my heart about what this meant for my body: a lot of changes. And since I have never been pregnant before, this also meant a lot of unexpected changes. These thoughts produced fear and worry in me and I began to become anxious about the coming months and what this would mean for my overall fitness. Motherly instincts kick in as soon as you discover that you have a little person growing inside of you, and you instantly want to do "Whatever is best for the baby!" But as a woman who struggles with insecurities about her appearance, I couldn't help but have these nagging thoughts.

Like I mentioned before, in the first trimester your body is adjusting to the onslaught of hormones that your body is producing and you definitely see and feel their effects. I took a much needed break from all exercise save for walking and the occasional run. The first time I got out on the road to attempt to keep my heart rate at 150 (doctor recommended) I was sorely disappointed: 180, 190, 205, 170, 165, 190, and so on. My fitness level had clearly waned in just a month off, and I became discouraged about the possibility of running during pregnancy. My doctor has okay'ed it as long as I kept my heart rate low (my max HR is around 230) which proved somewhat difficult for me at first. Not only was I discouraged but I was humbled. Not being able to run the same pace, the same distance, with the same amount of exertion can be quite frustrating and for me it most definitely was.. and still is.

Many woman tell you that after you enter the second trimester, you start feeling much better. Thankfully, I found this to be quite true. I am very grateful that my nausea lasted only 5-6 weeks, and my fatigue became less after about 8 weeks. So I started to get up the hopes that I could get outside and continue running at a more 'normal-for-me' pace and be just fine! Well there have been a couple of factors that have still kept me from that goal: 1) My overall fitness level has somewhat decreased, 2) My body needs to exert way more energy in order to run at paces and distances that were 'easy' just a few months ago, and 3) The Texas heat kills me. I have never been one who enjoys running in 90+ degree weather, nor have I ever been able to do it particularly well. Combine all of these factors together and it makes for one discouraged, frustrated, and irritated pregnant woman.

While out for a walk last night, I discovered that these thoughts and feelings were rooted in a few different areas of sin: selfishness, discontentment, envy, and jealousy. My frustration in not being able to run how I want virtually spells out the selfishness in my heart. I want to do it for me, and when I don't/can't get what I want I become frustrated. I am discontent because what used to come so naturally is now feeling very unnatural and that creates a lack of joy in my heart. I am envious and jealous of other women that I see running with no problem: most of whom are probably not pregnant. See how foolish these things are when they are exposed? I am confronted with the fact that I am still yet to be fully redeemed, and am in need of my Savior. David says it well in Psalm 86 when he cries out, "Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me! For I am poor and needy." In God's infinite wisdom, He knows my desires and my frustrations. Yet, He desires that I cry to Him with those frustrations and tell Him my honest feelings. I am comforted by the fact that He is "...good and ready to forgive, and abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You." (86:5)

Do I still want to run right on through this pregnancy? Absolutely! Do I believe that God will surely answer that prayer? I don't know. In the meantime, I must choose to trust Him and believe the fact that even when I can't run fast, or even run at all, God has ordained this time for my good - to teach me humility, the fleetingness of physical beauty, and fact that He cares about me in all of my weakness and stumblings. Have you ever dealt with insecurities in your pregnancy? I am right there with you sister.. let's keep fighting.

1 comment:

  1. besides having absolutely no interest in exercise, i'm with you =) We've got important lessons to learn & pregnancy can be a great teaching tool. i guess i need to be teachable!