It doesn’t get easier, but it’s still there

If I had only waited one more day, the run would have been completely different. (Or, so I told myself.) It was one of those VERY DC summer weekends—by which I mean, suffocatingly humid and oppressively hot. These are things a pregnant body—well, my pregnant body—does not agree with.

I had a handheld water bottle. Those 10 ounces of hydration were emptied in the first 20 minutes. I wore shorts that were starting to feel tight. I had on a tank top that stretched far enough, with some room to spare, because something has to give.

For no logical reason, I thought I could (should?) run five miles, but after two, I was walking. My heart rate high, morale very low.

Last summer, I was training for a marathon.

This summer, I’m growing a tiny human.

These are different kinds of hard.

They say, “Run through the summer to reap the benefits in the fall!” But I spent my summer months running (sort of), slowing WAY down, and coming to the realization that as (or, if) the weather got cooler, and my tiny human got bigger, this would actually only get harder.

I’m almost in the third trimester.

Today was one of a handful of days cool enough for a long sleeve, with shorts, and a slight chill at the start. I’ve been running up to two or three times a week—no more, often less. I don’t run for fitness, because there’s little to be gained. I’m not training for a race, because I don’t know when my body will decide it has had enough. I’m not running any more than three to five miles, because that’s what feels comfortable, or at least doable, on most days.

I run because it provides a sense of normalcy.

Most things in my life are not normal right now.

My work is always changing, because I own a growing private practice for nutrition and writing, and make impulsive decisions to launch big projectswhile also planning for an eventual self-paid (or not) “maternity leave.”

Our house is a disaster because we decided to gut most of it and change it from the inside out.

My commute to THE coffee shop—the one where they started giving me three stamps for every one cup of coffee on my frequent-buyer card—is virtually nonexistent. See also: house disaster.

My body is growing a tiny human. So, that’s definitely new. I get all kinds of “your baby is the size of this random food!” updates, but one week they also threw in the “your uterus is the size of a soccer ball!” and I was like, THAT IS NOT A FUN FACT.

My appetite was changing by the day, but seems to have settled. The process of learning to eat intuitively has saved me a lot of angst, and taught me a lot of new lessons.

The temperatures are finally starting to hint at change, and the leaves have followed suit.

All of the above are primed to trigger an ED voice, a need to control something, a progressively disordered relationship with food and my body, but it won’t. Recovery is ongoing, and running is part of it. So is knowing, and respecting, this body of mine. It’s growing a human. It’s doing something I can barely wrap my head around on most days. It’s giving a new life. It’s letting me keep mine, but showing me that change is okay, too.

And, running is still running.

It feels different but familiar; I’ve been here before. I recognize the emotions that come with building, maintaining, or losing fitness. I know how to slow down, trudge up the hills, or walk when I feel like it. I know how to be in a “maintenance” phase, even when maintenance feels like work.

I still get to talk about running for work. I still get to meet with running groups to talk about their training, and nutrition. I still get to work with runners. I still get to spectate running, and may even hop into a trail race or two of my own.

Running can be forgiving, humbling, comforting, and gratifying. While it’s always changing, it’s always there. While one day may not feel like the next, I still recognize myself best when I’m on the move, in a zone, launching off one foot to land on the other.

I can forget, after a few minutes of running, that I’m carrying and growing this tiny human, though that’s not the goal. It’s just a novelty. Then I come to, and I say, “This is running! We do a lot of it together. Maybe that will always be true. Only time will tell. But you’ll always be with me, just like running is.”

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