In a way, I’ve been preparing for this particular weekend each year for the last five or so because it’s the same weekend of our national track and field championships. So, not unlike any other year, it’s taper time. But, this time I’m tapering for something a bit different.
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Similar to tapering for a race, I’m trying to take care of all the important details to eliminate any last-minute stress. I’m eating well, resting lots and tapering my own exercise and work. I’ve also started to mentally prepare for the focus I’ll need to endure for up to 24 hours of labour.
It’s funny how much being a competitive athlete is coming in handy for pregnancy. We took a prenatal class and the tips our instructor gave us were very similar to those I’ve learned from sports psychologists and coaches. Staying relaxed and calm early on, so as not to waste too much energy in the early stages, breathing through and disassociating from the pain while focusing more on the end goal, breaking up the time by just focusing on three at a time — contractions for me, but for runners that might be miles, kilometres, minutes or hours — using visualization. Before races I imagine myself executing the perfect race: being fast and relaxed, kicking passed competitors, pushing through pain and crossing the line in a fast time or winning a race. So, although I fully recognize labour is likely going to be harder than any workout or race I’ve ever done, it is reassuring to know I’ve developed some coping skills to rely on.
In terms of my tapering prep, training and sleep have been the biggest challenge in the last month. I’m definitely more tired and have been sleeping about nine or ten hours each night, which is a bit different than when I’m tapering for a race because that’s when I get antsy and have extra energy. As of last week, I’ve pretty much stopped running besides a few bouts within some hikes when it feels easier to run downhill than walk. I am still pool running, training on a elliptical machine, hiking and doing some easy weightlifting.
I’m lucky my teaching job has included several outdoor education trips lately that have included long hikes, so I’m working and getting in some physical activity. As I said in my last blog regarding biophilia, still doing some activity outdoors is keeping me sane. I honestly do have a hard time not running – I’m addicted!
Nevertheless, I can’t complain as I’ve had a great pregnancy thus far and still feel great so I’m hoping labour is just as smooth. Now, as is difficult when getting ready for a big race, it’s just about being patient and playing the waiting game. Hopefully I’ll have some good news soon.