Tuesday, August 16, 2011


As a sufferer of knee issues (meniscus tears, IT band issues, popliteal issues, osteo-arthritis...) I've dealt with my share of running limitations. I've had orthopedists tell me I shouldn't be running. Luckily I found a GREAT one here who is an athlete himself. He is constantly surprised at the amount of running and compensation I'm able to do with the shape my knees are in (he actually asked to use my scans for teaching at LSU...yeah, they're that jacked up). But he never dissuades me. He encourages me and helps me stay on the road. He understands the need to keep the body moving and pushing one's boundaries. Physical therapy, listening to my body and ibuprofen gel have worked miracles. With this I have been able to keep at the activity I have grown to love and depend on: running.

Although I have chronic aches and pains (what runner doesn't?) I push through them. I ice. I stretch. I rest. I run. I have never felt "limited". If my body wouldn't cooperate I would compensate, adjust and keep on moving - keep on pushing. With this pregnancy this is the first time that I have truly felt limited. I have to be more in tune with my body and Baby Z's little developing body now. This has been a real mental struggle for me. I struggle with the issues of feeling less worthy, less committed, less of a runner if I don't fit in at least 30 miles a week, if I don't push my runs to the brink, if I don't have several races on the horizon.

I have had a super smooth pregnancy so far. I'm healthy. Baby Z is healthy. I'm fortunate that I'm able to move at all. But I feel like I'm getting sidelined more and more. Heartburn, fatigue, round ligament pain, bladder pressure, the heat....they all have been run killers lately. When I found out I was pregnant I vowed to keep running, so long as my doctor cleared me. I was able to keep my mileage up and even train for and run a half marathon well into my second trimester. As I approached my third trimester my runs became less and less frequent. And now at 33 weeks I just feel blah: slow, flabby and blah. I feel all the past years of running progress and training slipping away from me. I feel limited.

This became even more evident when I couldn't participate in the New Orleans Red Dress Run this weekend. After chatting with Katie (of KatieRUNSthis) on my way downtown she advised against participating. It was hot. The crowd was huge and drunk. Not really a good place for a pregnant lady. So, I opted out, turned around and drove back to the house, again feeling limited. Only good thing is I have a fabulous red outfit for my next half.

I have to take a step back though and realize how unlimited my body really is though. I am producing billions of cells a second and I actually feel great while doing it. I am able to move. I am able to smile. I am able to breath. I am able to create life. I am blessed. Instead of being a running brat I'm trying to readjust my attitude and be thankful for and recognize the things where God has shown me that I am truly unlimited.

Yes, my running career will have to basically start over, but look at who I get to start it over with...Baby Z! What a great prize.

So from here on out I plan to focus on the positive:
  • Starting over and starting fresh means I can concentrate on my running form more and practice on my mid/fore-foot strike.
  • Recovery running will help me melt away the post-baby lbs.
  • Yes it will be tough, but I gain a greater satisfaction from a difficult job well done than one that comes easy.
  • It will be fun to see my huge race PRs from races immediately post-baby to future ones as I am getting back into pre-baby shape.
  • I already have 3 post baby races lined up. Great motivation!
  • I already have a great race outfit! (see above pic) :)
Although I may be somewhat limited right now, my plans for the future and positive outlook can make me limitLESS.


MCM Mama said...

You look awesome! And you are coming from a great fitness base. You'll be amazed at how fast you come back once you can run again.

I've been there (twice) and came back better both times. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Girl, we are *totally* kindred spirits. I mean, seriously, we could be twins. I have been suffering with these same issues lately. While I truly am so thankful to have gotten as many miles as I have out of my pregnancy, I still want more.

Just one more day.
Just one more run.
Just one more mile.

It makes me feel selfish that I am clinging to all the hard work that I put in pre-pregnancy with the cold, clammy grip of death. I feel like it should be easier to just understand that these are the changes my body is going through and that I should just let go. But I'm stubborn...and letting go is hard.

You still look like a big beautiful strawberry in all your sparkles. I am determined to find an occasion where we can rock our Red Dress Run ensembles again. :)

iheartfootloose said...

you are doing amazing!
i had a rough third trimester and last 10 months BF and battling my UC, even though i was super active prior to pregnancy and up until that last trimester when I got too sick to do anything and it was very discouraging (and still is as i'm still trying to get back to healthy) but it WILL happen! As you know, have such an amazing reason behind the slowdown even as discouraging as it is now that discouragement fades fast when baby arrives :) trust me, i have a BS degree in Health and Exercise Science and have been known to be OBSESSED with fitness/lifting/nutrition and yet that little person helps put it all in perspective on those days I get down on myself for my lack of lean/athletic body that I used to have... I'm in charge of raising a little person! I still strongly desire to have my "hard" body back... and I will but I just remember the journey to get to where we are and i thank my awesome God with ALL that He's blessed me with and try to remain in His grace.... there is soooo much more going on that I could be plagued with... like a sick baby, or some other tragedy...
that was long... and probably not well articulated.... please forgive me, i'm a sleep deprived SAHM ;)

Marlene said...

I definitely could see myself struggling with the same issue if/when I am pregnant. You are handling things very well and keeping yours and Baby Z's health as top priority - you will run again!!!

Sarah said...

You are so amazing and I admire you, your sweet spirit, your LIMITLESS positive attitude, and most of all your determination to be the best Jen for you and your family.

Fantastic post, Jen! Way to look at all the positives. And while you may not enjoy all the little bumps in your journey you look at them as a challenge to the next thing...that's something to be proud of.

You inspire me!

Jess A @cajunrunnerjess said...

Your post is very motivating to me. I am still not allowed to run at this time and I am not really able to speed walk. Casual walking drives me crazy since it is so slow. I was having some issues with being only a few weeks along. They started me on some medicine so I may be able to start jogging in my second trimester...I hope. But anyway, it has been really depressing to have gone from training for a half down to nothing. I think about how much I am going to have to start over after the baby comes but it will be a rewarding experience. I will try to line up some races for next year in May so I can get back in the routine of things. Thanks for reminding me how much I have to look forward to!

ultrarunnergirl said...

Girl, you are one impressive lady. As a (mostly former) hasher, I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to show up at a Red Dress Run pregnant!

Glad you are still able to run, that baby is healthy and you're feeling decent.

Remember though there are things you can't perhaps do right now, you are on a whole new adventure in your life.

And, as a new Bikram yoga convert, after baby comes and you have your routine in place, try Bikram yoga for your knees. It does truly miraculous things.