By Coach Mae Coffman
Marathoning is often compared to many things: a symphony, a political campaign, a metaphor for life, and an example of lifelong-learning to name a few. But however squeamish the comparison may leave you, I’m convinced that training for and running a marathon is best compared to pregnancy and childbirth. It’s difficult, painful, messy, but ultimately a rewarding process.
I had my oldest child three years ago with 10 marathons under my belt. Six months ago Iwas blessed with the birth of a second child and am currently in the midst of training for my 12th marathon. Perhaps it’s the fact that these events occurred so close together, but I can’t help but notice some uncanny parallels to the process of training for a marathon and preparing for the arrival of baby.
It’s a LONG process. The average marathon program lasts for about 6 months. There is much to be done to prepare and at the start the big day seems far off in the distant future. They are not officially referred to as “trimesters” but you’ll notice that Rogue breaks up marathon training into phases which mark the time periods leading up to the big event. Like so many other highly anticipated events in life, when the big day arrives it’s a wonder how quickly the time flew by.
It’s going to be an emotional rollercoaster. At first there is elation—how exciting! A marathon! Followed by a period of boredom–is this marathon EVER going to get here? And then there is that period of worry as the “due date” looms closer—what have I gotten myself into? Am I sure I’m ready for this marathon?
Eating habits change. All of a sudden there is caution regarding foods eaten and beverages consumed. After all, this isn’t just about you anymore…there is the marathon to think about. Attempts are made to focus on healthy eating, but when a craving appears, the marathon provides some justification to indulge.
You are introduced to new host of paraphernalia and gear. Previous to embarking upon a marathon their existence was unknown, but now you absolutely MUST have it all or risk marathon failure. The latest and greatest gadgets are constantly evolving and may just provide you an edge in the running game. However, as more experienced marathoners are bound remind you, “back when I was a new marathoner, we didn’t have all that fancy technology and my race still turned out just fine”.
You won’t be able to sleep in on the weekends anymore. This one needs no explanation. It’s just a sad fact of marathoning and parenting life.
You will lose touch with some friends but gain some new ones. Your lifestyle is getting an overhaul. Some friends will try to understand and relate, but others will just flat out think you’re nuts. Luckily you will meet new friends who are in this same life stage and are more than happy to chat away for hours about your marathon’s latest stage of development.
Everyone who has accomplished this feat before you has advice to share (solicited or not). Nutrition, medications, recovery aides, what you should pack in your bag for that big day…your head will begin to swim with options. Take it all in, sort through it and find what works best for your running lifestyle.
It’s not for the faint of heart. Regardless of how prepared you feel ahead of time, nothing can completely prepare you for the event ahead of time. It must be experienced in order to be understood. The marathon may be one of the greatest physically and emotionally draining experiences in your lifetime, but it will also give you the greatest sense of pride and identity.
You earn some bragging rights. Immediately after the experience you will get an astonishing shot of energy despite the pure physical exhaustion. You’ll want to phone everyone you know to say “See what I did???? Isn’t it amazing???” You’ll post pictures to Facebook and check obsessively to see who has acknowledged your new marathoner status with a comment or “like”.
You will swear you are NEVER going to do this again. An “only” marathon isn’t so bad, right? But within a few days of the amazing event (or at least by the first birthday), you are planning out your next undertaking and thinking of how you are going to do an even better job this next time around—because everyone knows the first marathon is just practice.
You’ll experience some post-event blues. After the fact you will over-analyze all the details and lament some part of the process that didn’t go according to your master plan. But after all is said and done, you have a shiny new medal to show for the effort. Despite and pain and discomfort, after you are given enough time for perspective (and some sleep), you’ll swear you wouldn’t change a thing.
Luckily, the comparisons generally end after you’ve crossed the finish line. You won’t have to establish a college fund for your marathon and neither does your baby hang quietly on the wall … but as you prepare to run the Austin marathon in a few weeks, or consider training for a fall marathon later this year, remember that like pregnancy, there are few pre-qualifications for running a marathon. If you have the desire, drive, and perhaps just the right amount of crazy, then you too can birth a marathon.
Check it out! Mae coaches this amazing stroller friendly moms’ all access year round training group in Cedar Park. She will encourage, push, and inspire you to new heights … all with the little ones in tow. Come join her!