A comparison

Now that I'm embracing my new role as a new-mommy-who-tries-to-run-like-she-used-to-before-the-baby, I've had time to reflect on some things. And by 'some things' I mean a hilarious comparison that I had before I gave birth to Truman. You see, I always wondered how labor and delivery would compare to running a full marathon--in fact, Nate and I discussed it while I was pregnant deciding that it couldn't be THAT much harder to birth a child than run 26.2 miles. Endurance. Preparation. Pain. Achievement. You know, the same, right?

Allow me to pause a second to regain composure. I'm rolling on the ground laughing at that naive assumption on my part. Still laughing. Okay, I'm better now. Let's continue.

So anyway, now that I have officially experienced one hellified birth and one full marathon (and two halfs, but those don't even come close so they are nullified, and I trained for a second full marathon but said baby nixed that plan) I feel that I can provide a complete comparison for anyone else out there who wonders about these silly things. I vaguely remember looking to Nate while I was pushing Truman out of my bod and saying, 'This is way harder than running a marathon. Don't ever let me forget that, okay?'

Ways that giving birth is 1030201 times harder than a full marathon:

1. Um, in a marathon you can stop to walk, to catch your breath, to recollect your thoughts. Heck, if you really wanted to you can quit all together and pack it up for home. When you are in labor there's no stopping the baby train. Trust me, I begged my nurses to give me just a minute to catch my breath in between contractions but the Pitocin won and my sanity lost. True story.

2. You are able to PRACTICE running before the big race. For months you train and run and there aren't too many surprises lurking with 26.2 miles, since you run at least 20 in a trial run before the race. There is absolutely no freaking way you can practice having real contractions to prepare yourself. And no, Braxton Hicks don't count. I falsely assumed that since I was having 'mild contractions' for weeks that my body was practicing for labor. Pretty sure my body had no freaking clue what it was up against and it's probably best that way:)

3. Recovering from a vaginal delivery makes recovering from a marathon seem like a day in the spa. In fact, if you are brave enough you can go to a spa after a marathon and get the kinks worked out of your sore muscles. After shooting out a human from your nether regions? No way is anyone coming near my aching limbs for quite some time. It hurts to walk up stairs after both events but the similarities stop there, my friends. And speaking of recovery, pretty sure you don't tear your lady bits in a marathon unless something has gone horribly wrong. I bet you won't leave trails of blood or pee on the floor after a race, either. If so, you must run a lot harder than I do, my friend:) Did I not mention the peeing on the floor before? Well I did that when I got home from the hospital. Probably my lowest moment but quite hilarious looking back.

4. While running a marathon, you know there is a finite amount of time (or actually, a specific distance) ahead of you. No matter what, you are running 26.2 miles and you can probably estimate how long that will take you within an hour or so. With labor? HA. You have no idea if you'll be in the trenches for a few hours or a few days. For me it was the latter and I don't do so well without control over situations so you can imagine I was a total peach during my induction.

Reasons why giving birth is 201040 times sweeter than running a marathon:

1. Dude, you get a baby as a reward not some stupid cheapy medal ( although I do cherish my medals so I shouldn't discount them so quickly).

2. The pinnacle moment of seeing your child for the first time trumps the magic of crossing the finish line after 26.2 for sure. Both are amazing, but birth wins this one.

3. Did I mention the baby? Yeah, a tangible baby that will be the center of your life for about 18 plus years is pretty sweet. Seeing your husband as a dad is even more indescribable. I'd say giving birth is more life-changing than running a marathon.

Ways that they are sorta kinda similar:

1. Cheerleaders and coaches. Whether it's random strangers on the sidelines of a race or nurses yelling encouragement while holding your leg behind your head and staring at your va-jay-jay you are going to have some outsider support during these feats. And ultimately, my husband was my star cheerleader both times---words can't express how wonderfully he filled that role.

2. Pain. Lots of pain. Enough said.

3. Mental anguish. Playing mind games with yourself is always fun.

4. Allowing your body to do things you never thought possible.

5. The feeling of accomplishment, the rush of endorphins, and the sudden urge to barf everywhere (I guess the last one doesn't always happen but it's possible).

6. People who haven't experienced these feats just won't totally understand what it's all about until they are there.

So let's look at some visual comparisons for funsies:

The BEFORE of a marathon. All happy, chipper, and a lot nervous.

And the BEFORE of labor. Stylish hospital gowns and rockin' IV poles included with the giant baby belly (and swollen jowls):

The WORST I looked during a marathon:
And you cannot see a picture of me looking my worst during labor because there were no pictures of that nonsense. Only lingering memories of dripping sweat, screaming obscenities, and a similar facial expression as above plus about 40 pounds of anger directed at anyone who dared to talk to me:)

Me after the marathon, showing off my prize:

And after birth. Although I look like a large Mack truck parked on my head for awhile, check out that 'medal' of sorts. WAY cooler, no? :)

The aftermath of a marathon, all cleaned up and ready for a big dinner that night.
PS-I kind of hate that girl up there considering her physical appearance. I guess running for hours each week is a lot different than housing a human for 9 months and packing on the el beezies, huh? Ah, the luxury of having time to run for hours each week...

And the aftermath of birth, the next day with my little medal of honor. Yeah, not quite as tan, thin, or put together but honestly more contented than I ever thought possible.
What a difference a year and a half makes, huh? It's amazing that two major life experiences can be so vastly different and yet somewhat similar.

Of course, I want to do both again in the near future despite the pain---I've already forgotten how bad each hurt in the moment and am totally up for it again. Also, I am absolutely not making light of the accomplishment marathoners experience because running 26.2 is frickin hard as heck. Kudos to anyone who can rise to that challenge. But I just wanted to point out that I erroneously thought since I was a marathoner that labor wouldn't be too much more challenging. And I wanted to laugh at my former idiotic self for that thought.

So no, my friends. Running a full marathon is not comparable to giving birth---at least in my humble opinion, after my own personal experiences. But boy is it fun to compare:)


  1. Hilarious! Do you read baby rabies? She wrote a bog post awhile back comparing natural childbirth to running a marathon - you should read it!

  2. Love it! I must say, I think ending up with a baby is way cooler than ending up with a medal. And a lot easier on the knees. :)

  3. Oh boy. I have done neither, but thanks for the comparison. At least I know what to look forward to! Love reading about T-man!

  4. Love this post. My husband is an avid runner and has run a few marathons including boston which he likes to talk about quite frequently (deservedly so). I am not a runner, but after giving birth, including pushing for 4 hours, I told him what I just did was like an ultra marathon. He has since stopped talking so much about those marathons.

  5. Haha Julia, this post made me laugh. I will admit to having wondered the same thing, so thank you for the comparison :-) Lucky for me I plan to stick to endurance sports for a while before I go down the baby road :-)

  6. This is quite possibly the funniest thing I've ever read!! I think my favorite point was the "spa" comparison. I never would have thought to compare the two but my lord...this was hilarious!!

  7. JULIA! This rocks! I've obviously never had a baby but I've run a few marathons and this puts it ALL in perspective for me. No babies till a few more marathons! HA!
    LOVED this post. You'll get back to running soon enough, you have the rest of your life to run, no hurries! you look amazing, btw.

  8. This is great!!!! I have never ran in a marathon or even more than 5 miles but I can totally relate to this post.

  9. OK, I have to agree with you, HOWEVER, training for a marathon post baby was SO MUCH HARDER for me than training for a marathon prebaby. That's probably a no-brainer. But I am running my 2nd marathon in two weeks. ON MOTHER"S DAY. And this training has kicked my ass in so many ways!! Stay tuned for a blog post on this one. because I am in need for some major motivation!!

  10. LOL!!!!! Loved the comparison. Although I never ran a marathon I had long runs of 15 miles pre-babies. TOO FUNNY!

    As for the peeing incident. I kinda wished someone had told me about that. I was laying in the hospital bed after delivery content because I didn't have the urge to go potty every 5 minutes. The nurse came in and after realizing it's been hours since going to the bathroom, I had her help me up and the flood gates opened. I was SO EMBARRASSED!

  11. Either way, you look great and it's two things I've never done... I'm jealous of both and love the trophies from each!


  12. That was a great post Julia!!

  13. I absolutely LOVED this post! Today I compared giving birth to a marathon, and then I happened to stumble on this. Perfect.


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