How motherhood is exactly like running a marathon

There’s a lot of time for bizarre thinking and life reflection when you’re training for a marathon.

All that time spent with my feet pounding against the pavement — both training for the 26.2-mile beast and actually conquering my first full marathon — I couldn’t help but find many parallels between motherhood and marathoning.

Preparation

  • Marathon: It takes months of physical preparation – including increased eating, more conscious eating, extra vitamins, soreness, pain, cramping and sometimes even vomiting. Wetting yourself at some point is also a high probability.
  • Motherhood: It takes months of preparation – including increased eating, more conscious eating, extra vitamins, soreness, pain, cramping and sometimes even vomiting. Wetting yourself at some point is also a high probability.

It’s normal to second-guess your abilities

  • Marathon: At the starting line right before the gun goes off, you’re a huge ball of nerves and raw emotion. The anticipation, the fear, the unknown. How is this going to play out? You have prepared for months for this moment and finally it is here. WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS, AGAIN?!
  • Motherhood: In the delivery room, I freaked a little when my doctor told me it was time to push. I had waited 40 weeks for this moment, was it really here? Is it really go time? I can’t do this. WHY DID I WANT TO DO THIS, AGAIN?!

Bleeding nipples

  • Marathon: Marathoners (usually men) sometimes end up with bloody nipples caused from miles and miles of T-shirt friction over the sensitive area. (Thankfully, this didn’t happen to me.)
  • Motherhood: Breastfeeding women know all too well the joy of bleeding, cracked nipples during those first few weeks. (Unfortunately, this did happen to me.)

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It takes a while to find your groove

  • Marathon: About 3-5 miles in, you’re still trying to find your rhythm. Your lungs and legs are burning, and you’re wondering why running this godforsaken race was such a brilliant idea in the first place. But then, your body just sort of switches over to auto-pilot. Gradually, it feels like you’re powering through the miles with slightly less effort.
  • Motherhood: The first few months with a newborn can be pretty rocky. You’re trying to establish a routine with your baby, but your body isn’t used to the huge lifestyle adjustment. You begin to doubt yourself and your abilities. Am I really cut out for this parenting thing? Somewhere along the line, it starts to get a tiny bit easier.

Hitting “the wall”

  • Marathon: At about 15-20 miles in, cramping and ultra fatigue set in as your body burns through 2,000 calories. Many runners hit “the wall” at this point. Every step feels like trudging through quicksand. You push the electrolytes, the water, the salt tablets, but nothing works. You slow down to a slow trot or even a walk, ashamed. But eventually, you’re able to force yourself to start running again.
  • Motherhood: After weeks and sometimes months of only sleeping for 2-3 hour stretches, your body reaches its breaking point. Coffee just isn’t cutting it anymore. You can’t keep your eyes open or your brain focused on the tasks at hand. You’ve hit “the wall,” and you’re not sure how you can keep going, mentally or physically. But you dust yourself off and keep on going.

In the end, it’s worth it

  • Marathon: After 26.2 grueling miles, you finally did it! All of your hard work has paid off. Sure, you’re exhausted, but the endorphins and the adrenaline rush are totally worth it. The experience is so gratifying, in fact, that you want to run another!
  • Motherhood: When your baby meets a new milestone, celebrates a birthday, or when you just gaze into her eyes and are filled with so much love and joy, you realize it’s all worth it. The experience is so gratifying, in fact, that you want to have another!

*This post originally appeared on BabyCenter in 2014

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