Here’s what I’m going to tell my prenatal students when we get to the part in the course about how much contractions actually hurt: the pain of contractions ain’t got nothing on running with shin splints!
There was a lot of self talk going on during this run. A lot! I would stair up over the houses into the blue sky with a big, determined, smiled on my face and tell myself that my legs weren’t in pain, or that the pain was a happy feeling that my body welcomed, or that with each step my body grew stronger and experienced less pain as a result.
I tried to distract myself by focusing on the song in my headphones, by watching my running partner way up ahead of me, by examining the still naked but budding branches in all of the trees around me and by marveling at the most beautiful shade of blue in the sky.
Distraction and self talk are two big mental techniques for dealing with the sensations, very often painful, of birthing. I’ve been through two unmedicated births and as I went round and round the park this morning, I reflected on how I’d rather be doing that.
Finally, the best tool to motivate myself was to just keep track of how many intervals I’d run and how many I still had ahead of me. When I asked Whirlytwirl how many we had left, at one point, “4?” I asked, she replied, “4? 3? 2? 5?” For a moment it was like birthing and not knowing how far dilated I was. When I heard her confirm that we were indeed 4 intervals from being finished our run, something settled inside me. I knew the exact shape of the challenge ahead of me. I knew the goal. It was within reach.
It wasn’t a pleasant run, but I did it.
I did it and I iced my shins after, took a couple Ibuprofen and then took a nap.
I’m still a warrior, but today the battle took more of a toll.