Sunday, April 30, 2017

A New Mindset (Feb 24th, 2017)

Feb 24th, 2017

I am very pleased to report that my running has not all been awful since my first pregnancy post last week. While I was confident there’d be good days and bad days when I wrote my last post, part of me worried how many or if most of my running days would be bad ones.

In my last post, I had mentioned how tired I was and how trying running was. I was very surprised by this reaction my body had to such a tiny little dot of a baby. I mean, if the baby is hardly a baby, but a tiny, barely visible embryo, and my body looks almost exactly the same, how can it already be hard? What I didn't know until now is that pregnancy isn't just about the baby growing inside you and the toll the physical baby body takes on the mom's body, but the increase in hormones in the mom's body that enables this growth makes a HUGE difference in her energy. Also, blood volume increases in the body dramatically in order to nurture the baby and lowers mom's blood pressure. Again, a huge yet invisible change to the body. As someone with low blood pressure to begin with, having it go even lower has been an adjustment.

I am now officially more than 5 weeks in (into week 6). That means still very new at this whole growing a human thing, and so new to it that my body shows no real signs of it. But there’s a lot going on inside of me in preparation for the little one, that makes everything more difficult. It's a process my body has never gone through before, so no doubt, there's an adjustment period. I’m sleepy all the time, and while I go to bed at 8:30 or 9pm each night, I wake up like an insomniac fool, starving for a snack, and, whether I snack or not, I stay awake for 2-3 hours every single night. This usually starts somewhere around 3 or 4am. While 9pm-3am might seem like luxurious sleep, I am actually waking up during that time frame at least 4 times go to the bathroom but manage to fall asleep after each waking episode. Well...mostly. And since I’m limiting my caffeine intake, I have little outside help to perk me up and help with this lack of sleep quality. I am bloated too so one might think I’m further along than I am (but it’s all water and air?). But since 99.9% of the world doesn’t know my secret yet, I just have to pretend I’m tired, sick, injured, and that I’ve put on weight. Sigh….I’m sure people are wondering what the heck is up with me, especially if they see me later in the day when my shirts are clinging to my bloated tummy.

But all of the above are common and normal symptoms. In fact, each day I tend to feel better than the day before. Hopefully this means I won’t get all pukey and disgusting as I haven't yet. Hey, I’m allowed to dream!

Thankfully, running has started to feel good. Again, I know I will have bad days, but since the first one, running has felt relatively good if I go nice and slow. The fresh air seems to calm me down from my nerves about all these pending life changes, I don't feel any of my symptoms at all when I'm out there, and my ability to move in a way that’s so familiar and strong empowers me. I am strong and healthy and I am providing the healthiest start to my unborn child.

Running hasn’t been perfect though. I do have to go slow or it’s hard. I’m sure part of it is fatigue, but also with the hormonal changes going through me, my breathing and my heart rate are impacted by that too. My heart rate shoots up pretty high with minimal effort. And my bladder has gained a mind of its own and its paired with pelvic floor muscles that aren’t quite working the way they used to. After a warm up jog, I need to run inside and use the bathroom again or risk embarrassment and/or discomfort for the rest of my run. But at least I can run, and I am running. My first run, the one I wrote about last, was a mere 4-4.5km (a 5km where I walked the last bit home exhausted). My next one was actually about 6km, and I was tired and done by the end, but it was easier than the run before it. Then Weds night I ran about 7km and could have kept going and going except I didn’t have the time to spare. So I’m going to try to get in a 10km this weekend if I can. If I can’t, I won’t stress.

So far I’ve only had a few people ask me about my upcoming races. I continue to tell them what I’m signed up for. Everyone assumes I’m training just as hard as I always do. But I’m not. I fooled them all! I will have them fooled until they see my upcoming finish times, especially since I talked so big about how fast I hope to be at the St. Patty’s 5K. I will run it, and I hope I will be feeling as good then as I do now and can still do it in 30-ish minutes. But that’s a far cry from the fast 5km I had been hoping for before pregnancy. I know when I say “yup, it took me 30 min (or heck, it might take 35min)” I will get some people looking at me weird. But I don't care. 

Don’t get me wrong – many pregnant women are able to continue to run at the same pace and even be somewhat competitive. Some train for and complete half and full marathons with a much more glorious bump than what I've got going on in my early weeks. But I’m not in my 20s, I’m 36.5 years old, and this is my first pregnancy. My child means everything to me, and running is merely a secondary goal. I just want to be healthy, not a podium-placer, and I have no need to finish another big race in 2017. So now is the perfect time to adopt a temporary alternative mindset - keeping active for fitness alone. I can resume my achievement-based mindset after. It will feel good to do so after. But right now, it feels right to be kind to myself. Right now it feels right to run as much as I want to, rather than as much as I need to. Right now it feels right to branch out, run less, relieve the pressure I place on myself, and do other active things that will give me balance, like dancing, swimming. and yoga.

I’m a little conflicted about the April Fools Run which is, of course, a half marathon. I signed up as ambassador before I got pregnant, so I had every intention of running. I assumed that even if I did get pregnant, the race would be early enough in the pregnancy that I would be able to run it anyway. Since running has been less these days, less than I assumed (this is both because of tiredness and ice on the streets I have been avoiding), I don’t know. I didn’t get in my big long training runs, and I don’t know that I will before the big day. And the race happens before I will be going public with my news. Right now I’m thinking I’ll either run/walk it (run 10K, walk 10K, ...ish), or see if I can switch to being a relay participant if there’s a team that needs someone (or find my own team). Or if I really don’t think I can do the run at all, I can go to the race anyway and volunteer at an aid station or finish line, or simply make fun signs and cheer and take photos. I can still be an ambassador even if I don’t run all 21.1km. I’ll decide closer to.

First race is the West Van Run. That’s coming soon, and I won’t be fast. Let’s see if anyone notices J

<3 Zahida


  1. You're so awesome! That's really interesting to me to read about all the changes you've noticed in your body even really early on. It sounds like you're doing a fantastic job of checking in with your body and day by day, moment by moment recognizing what you need - be that sleep, bathroom or walk breaks when out for run. Waking up at 3am for no reason and not getting back to sleep for a couple hours sounds HORRIBLE. How are you feeling with that? Do you think its linked to anything in particular, like processing emotions around this big life change? any worries? Are you getting better sleep now or no?

    1. YOU'RE so awesome! :) I no longer have the insomnia now that I'm into my 2nd trimester. In fact, that was only really an issue in the first few weeks then it settled. And the bathroom breaks are temporarily less frequent, now that the uterus has moved up and off my bladder. I am not sure what caused the insomnia. Maybe it was anxiety/emotions? Maybe hormones? I have no idea! But as of about a week ago, in real time, my sleep has improved dramatically.

  2. Hormones are the REAL DEAL. I could not believe how many changes happened, and they were all linked to hormones in my body! My gums were so sensitive that they bled every time I brushed my teeth, and of course those hormones produce the relaxin that loosens up all of your joints in preparation for delivery; for me, the joints were what kept me from the high-impact aspect of running, and were why walking felt so much better for me.

    I also remember the constant hunger so well. I kept granola bars and crackers in my nightstand for pretty much constant munching, it was awesome! Haha. One tip for the small-bladder problems: running/walking at a track! Tom and I frequently went to the local track so he could run laps, I could walk laps, and I could use the bathroom to pee every 3 laps (ugh). Luckily the seawall in Vancouver has pretty frequent bathrooms, too :)

    In "real time" you must be in the lovely 2nd trimester - most people's favourite, and hopefully yours, too! Can't wait for these posts to catch up so we can hear how you're currently doing.

    1. Wow, sounds like you had the tough end of the bargain with hormones. My teeth have been OK, so far (touch wood). But yes, starting to notice hip pain when I sleep, which is OK during the day. But since I've had an issue with over-mobile hips pre-pregnancy, I have to be careful and it might be a reason to stop running sooner than I'd like. My chiropractor will keep a close eye on it, and now I'm using a full on pregnancy body pillow which is helping me sleep relatively pain free.

      Yes, in real time I'm 15 weeks along and enjoying the extra energy so far. The posts will catch up soon :) Should I publish daily or every other day until I'm caught up?

    2. Depends how many you have, I guess? Either way works for me! I'm loving hearing about another experience :)