10 Reasons Why Running a Marathon is Like Having a Baby


While running my second marathon, it occurred to me that running a marathon is eerily similar to the act of having a baby. Now, of course there are obvious differences (for instance, during a marathon you are wearing shoes), but there are also similarities (lots of sweat and probably some cursing). From someone who has both run a marathon (two, in fact!) and pushed out a baby (without an epidural, because I know you were about to ask), here are 10 reasons why running a marathon is like having a baby:

1) When you first sign up, you're slightly freaking out

Whether it's discovering you're pregnant or getting that confirmation email about that 26.2 miles you just registered for, the initial feeling is part excitement, part sheer terror, part nausea. 

And you wonder: What have I gotten myself into?

2) It takes months of training, and you have to do your homework

You grow a baby over those 9 months, and in like manner, you spend months training for a marathon. It's during this time of daily training that you do your homework. You will buy every book and read every article on the subject, and then you'll read them all again just in case you missed something.

You will also constantly be asking yourself the following questions:

What are the right foods to eat?

What's the best way to stay in shape without injuring myself?
Oh no. I coughed three times in a row. Am I getting sick? Please no! *chugs water*

 3) You will give weekly updates to all your friends about how it's going

Instead of a "bump update," it's a training update. My baby is the size of a pineapple! I just did my 15-mile long run! 

Now my ankles are swollen, and I need to lie down.

4) Over the training period, you will see your body change

Things get bigger and smaller and tighter and looser, and it mostly just depends on how you hold your weight and whether you're a boy or a girl.

It's either a pregnancy belly or calves the size of a bison. Take your pick. And you're chugging water to stay hydrated so you're peeing all the time.

5) By the time the day finally arrives, you're ready for it to be over

It's been months, and you're sick of it all. Can't we just DO THIS THING already? I'm tired and achy, and I just want it to be over. I'm tired of thinking about it. I'm tired of having weird nightmares about bowel movements. I'm tired of all these intense food cravings!!!

You also start over with reason #1: slightly freaking out. Only you're most like majorly freaking out because ARE YOU CRAZY?! Who thought this would be a good idea?

Is it too late to back out? (With a marathon, yes. With a baby, not so much. Sorry.)

6) The night before the big day, you pack a bag with all the essentials

It's important you have everything you need, ready for you to grab when the moment comes. A change of clothes, a bottle of water, and your camera.

And then... you're off! 

7) You start slow, and hours later there's still little to show for it.
The sun has risen in the sky, and you're still doing this thing. Screaming and crying and bleeding (gross, sorry). You're sucking on ice and sweating profusely, and it hurts more than anything has ever hurt before. Your practiced breathing isn't helping, and you're wheezing like an old lady.

Then you hit The Wall. You can't do this. Are you dying? Yes, definitely dying. SOMEONE MAKE IT STOP.


The sprint to the finish.

And finally....

You're done.

8) And almost instantly you forget about the pain you just went through, because this is the most wonderful feeling you've ever felt in your life.

You collapse, of course. Because you're tired. But you can't hold back the triumphant smile. They hand you your medal, and you can't believe you've really done it! 

You continue to stare at your medal all day long. You don't want to let it out of your sight. It's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen! It has your eyes, which really only not weird if it's a baby and not a piece of medal on a ribbon.

9) Now you have a new name

You were a wife, a woman. Now you're a mom. 

In similar fashion (although there's no card aisle in Target for this category), before, you were a runner; now you're a marathonerYou post a thousand pictures on all social outlets so everyone can see what you've done and be happy for you too.

10) Then you waddle home and fall into bed

It was wonderful, amazing, and truly spectacular. But all you really want to do right now is sleep.

That's, I think, where the similarities end.
Because moms don't sleep. Like, ever. 

I, however, after my marathon, slept like a baby.

p.s. Don't miss my update post, 10 Reasons Why Running a Marathon is Like Having a Baby: Revisited after Having a Baby!
Christina @ The Murrayed Life said...

I kinda love this, and almost totally agree. Minus the fact that you can back out of the marathon and are kinda stuck with the baby having...

But still? Eerily similar!

Mary said...

I like this.
I have gotten through two marathons and a 35 mile ultra. Therefore, I ration that I should be fine with childbirth? Right?... :S

Ashley said...

Oh my gosh. I kind of want to start running. Not a marathon, of course. I'm not athletic like that. Just running. I'll admit that the reason is kind of stupid. I'm changing colleges in the spring and I want to be able to run/jog around the lake. The health benefits are good, too. ;) I'll be honest. This post scared me, little. Lol.

Katie said...

I've always thought that was a good comparison and still think it is after doing both. During both I'd thought I'd never want to do it again. Second I crossed the finish line I wanted to do it again. It didnt work that fast for labor :) but I an starting to forget the pain and would do it again. And I did say during labor I'd rather run a marathon. Definitely less painful!

Becky said...

That made me laugh! And having pushed 4 babies through my lady parts, I would have to say that those were all spot on! Loved it!

Anonymous said...

I love this, but honestly... I don't know which is scarier. Having a baby or doing a marathon? I'll probably try the latter before the former. :)

Lynsey @ Run Love said...

Haha, I love this post, and even though I have never pushed a baby through my lady parts either, you make a great argument!

Tara said...

I haven't run a marathon, but I have had a baby, and I feel like this is spot on! Very creative :)

Stephanie @ Shades of Color Art said...

Excellent comparison! I was a runner (read: was) like 10 years ago! And I want to run in marathons again! I know exactly how that feels and it is a great feeling! (When you are over of course haha)

Curious Runner said...

Haha, this is awesome! So true! But you forgot one thing... During the event (whether the marathon or labour) you swear you'll never do it again... 6 months later you're signing up for another one (give or take) :)

Britt and Hive said...

Okay, this is kind of like the best thing ever. I am totally cracking up right now.

I thought you were crazy until I started reading - and it makes total sense.

Julie @ A Simply Sweet Blog said...

I haven't had a baby or run a marathon but I loved this post. And then it's possible I pretty much stalked your whole blog. And now have a strange desire to go for a run. Only I haven't actually run in like, 2 years. Maybe I'll start tomorrow... ;)

Curly Pink Runner said...

Haha- great comparison! I've never had a baby, but with sisters and their stories - I'd say you are spot on!!

Unknown said...

I haven't had the chance to do either yet, but it sounds like quite the (scary) experience!

Michelle @ Mishfish13

Laura Morgan said...

Yes! Dude. You have to have a baby now because you're obviously fully prepared for the process. Here are my additions/changes: Nightmares about bowel movements happened after delivery. After you, um, beat up on all your business, pushing something else out is quite a terrifying thought.
And another similarity is the conversations people have before the big day. "How long until...? Are you scared? Is this your first? What time/gender are you hoping for?" And then people who haven't done it look at you like you're kind of crazy, while people who have done it give you a knowing nod and their token piece of advice that you'll either take as gospel or ignore completely.

The perks of having a baby over running a marathon are many, in my mind. 1. When (not if) you have various bodily functions not on a toilet, someone else will clean it and you up. God bless nurses. 2. You can do it in a bath tub. 3. You instantly lose like 10 pounds, and you've been eating four sleeves of Oreos a day prior to that. (Unless you get diabetes like me and then you mostly just cry.) 4. "Training" includes napping. For months and months.

Abby said...

Oh my gosh these are great comparisons and all so true!

Tamara said...

I've not ran a marathon (yet!) but this pretty much sums my pregnancy to a T!

And it also weirdly helps my mind wrap around the idea that I can actually do a marathon! I mean, I gave birth & survived, so it's all good, right?

Jena Roach said...

Though I have yet to push life out of my tinkle taco, I have run four marathons. I agree with all of these! :)

Casey Aslan said...

LOVE this!!!!

Anonymous said...

Love it- pretty much spot on! #10 is exactly why I'm not planning on pushing anything else out of my lady parts and running a marathon. I will probably be really drunk when I hit the submit button to register for my marathon baby.

Anonymous said...

Love it- pretty much spot on! #10 is exactly why I'm not planning on pushing anything else out of my lady parts and running a marathon. I will probably be really drunk when I hit the submit button to register for my marathon baby.

jillconyers said...

Love this. Thanks for the laugh :)

Claire@MyDevising said...

I have a post on this very topic that I'm putting up tomorrow! Funny! I haven't run a marathon - I've only done half marathons. But I've also had a natural birth with 20 hours of labor. Lots of similarities. The presence of excruciating pain is a key difference though. :) Enjoyed reading!

Sarah said...

This is awesome and on point! I just ran my first half yesterday and, although I've never had a child, I can relate to these comparisons. So funny!

Anonymous said...

Ha, ha, love this. As someone with four marathons and zero babies to my name (yet), I sincerely hope I'll birth one at least as fast as I can run 26.4 miles, and with less pain.

J is for Jessica said...

As someone who has run a marathon and just had a baby I can tell you this rings true!

james2011 said...

I can definitely see where you are coming from, training for and running a marathon is no joke, trust me- I know. But here is something else to consider... And now, for Yvonne's 10 reasons why running a marathon is NOT like having a baby:

1. you totally and fully acknowledged signing up for that marathon, while most of the population on the other hand, meet those two pink lines with complete surprise. No one e-mails you and says "congrats, you just signed up for a marathon". Imagine? That would be cruel.

2. training for a marathon doesn't make you throw up on the daily, and if it does, you should probably stop. Being pregnant Yvonne definitely forecasts puke for the next 9 months

3. Having sex while training for a marathon isn't that great- you're always tired, and achy and it hurts to do cow girl because your quads are spent. Having sex while your pregnant is mind blowing. Nuff said.

4. Even though you may walk with a hobble by week 15 of training, there is no way anyone is giving you a seat on the bus. Big pregnant belly? Why, please do sit down. Winning.

5. Which brings me to another point about the belly, it's pretty big at times and noticable and people on the street smile awkwardly at you as if they "know how it feels" and some strangers may even give you an abdominal pat (ps. not cool). When you're training for a marathon, indeed your calves are going to be spectacular, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and bet that no one is congratulating you on those bad boys, not strangers anyways, and no one is asking about your relatonship history, or age, or life plans.

6. Running a marathon leaves you lady parts in a recognizable state. Do I need to go into details here? Yes. I had to pee with a water bottle for 2 months afterwards, just sayin.

7. Running a marathon does not permanately tie you to another person for the rest of your life, a person that you may not even know that well..boyfriends are cute, but baby daddies are kind of important. I'm sure you made running friends, but I don't care.

8. Running a marathon makes you part of less than 1% of the world population who have also done it, having a baby is old news. Babies are every where, and much more than 1% of women will experience child birth during their adulthood.

9. Running a marathon is not like making a person, because there is no cell division involved and that's just bad science. Come on.

10. And finally, running a marathon is not like having a baby because you don't go home after a marathon with this amazing little human who you will let shit on you, chew up your nipples and vomit all over your favourite shirt for as long as they want. Because that's love. And if you do go home from a marathon with something like that...that's cool, I don't judge.

NShea said...

This is perfect! And now that I've had a baby, I guess I'm prepared for a marathon! Bring. It. On!!

Jessica Elyse @ Memoirs of a Mommy said...

Bison thighs!!!! Lol.I haven't run any marathons, but the races I have trained for have been grueling. Questions for you my marathon running friend: 1. How do you get past the horrible stage? For me, mile 6 is where I start getting stomach issues and feel like death. 2. I am wanting to start training for a triathlon. Any suggestions?

Megan said...

Haha I'm dying of laughter over here. I'm training for a half right now, so I totally understand on a slightly less severe level. I think #3 was my favorite.

Beka @ Sunshine to the Square Inch said...

Okay, I read it and I loved it! I definitely see some of the other responses and eeeeek =)

Andrea H. said...

I'm in the final stretch of training for my first marathon...and though I've never birthed a baby myself...I imagine you are spot on from my experience with the marathon training so far. Not an easy feat by means! Loved reading your list!

Unknown said...

Love it! I've had two kids...and I hope to run a marathon one day (ok...probably just a half). So true!

Briana said...

Hilarious. Made my afternoon reading the comparison and then this excellent response. Well done!