How running got me through IVF

For some, exercise comes naturally and we do it regularly from childhood, but for others, it takes something life changing to pull on those training shoes

For 36 year old Amy, it was a difficult breakup that encouraged her to start running at 25. Before that, she says, she’d never exercised.

Now, running has helped her through a miscarriage and the gruelling process of IVF, and she calls running her “lifeline”. Speaking to the Metro newspaper, she says that at 25, she was struggling with a breakup and one day just decided to put on some trainers that she happened to have, and start running.

She says it was a sort of therapy that she needed to help her clear her head, that didn’t cost her anything

“It was a big break up and I felt like my life was out of control. I desperately needed some head space, so, over a period of a few months, I put some old trainers on and plodded down the Thames listening to emo rock. When we finally broke up for good, I just carried on running.”

Amy is partially deaf, and her experiences at school put her off exercising. “We only ever did team sport and relied on me hearing people across fields – which, quite understandably, I was rubbish at”.

“I hated fitness at school. My hearing aids used to fall out periodically as they were fairly big back then, and I couldn’t ever hear the instructions so I was completely useless. I didn’t do anything until I discovered running at 25, and 11 years on. I haven’t stopped.”

She told the Metro that even though with a hearing impediment you need to be careful when out running, you can weigh that up by using your eyes more

Amy soon found herself running three or four times a week. It helped her deal with the bouts of anxiety and depression she suffered during her late 20s after realising that it was more suited to her than medications and counselling.

Amy usually runs alone and now takes part in Park Runs, 10km and half marathon distances. But her journey hasn’t been without hiccups.

“A few years ago, I broke my foot and it wouldn’t heal – I ended up having a bone graft. Those six months on crutches were bleak, but I ran the Brighton Marathon a year later. It was one of the best days of my life.”

Running became a coping tool

Now, running has proven effective as a different form of therapy for Amy – three years ago it helped her deal with a miscarriage she suffered after trying to become pregnant for a long while. Afterwards, she went to stay with a friend in Scotland and “spent the week running in the middle of nowhere in Inverness. It helped me avoid spiralling into despair”.

After more struggles trying to become pregnant, Amy and her husband made the difficult decision to begin the process of IVF. At a time when it felt like everyone she knew was announcing pregnancies, running helped Amy cope with the process.

“I could alleviate how badly I felt about myself by chucking myself up and down hills. I joined my local running club, Stratford Upon Avon Athletics Club, and found a group of people who introduced me to the joy of trail running and running with other people.”

“I will always be grateful for the Saturday mornings I spent with fellow club runners around the Cotswolds, putting the world to rights and experiencing the countryside in a whole new way. It took my mind off all the other things eating me up, and it gave me the vital head space and health I needed to go through IVF.”

“It taxes you physically and mentally and it doesn’t matter how supported you and your partner are, you feel very alone and the future is uncertain.”

Thankfully, Amy and her husband had a successful first round of IVF and their baby is due in a couple of weeks. But as Amy has lost a baby before, she’s still anxious

She told the Metro that for the first three months she felt terrified that she would suffer another miscarriage, as well as being “in complete denial that we’d been lucky”. Then the world was hit by the coronavirus pandemic and lots of people were told that their IVF treatments were being put on hold. Amy felt “double lucky” that their treatment had been successful before the closure of IVF clinics.

Amy is excited for her first post-birth run and using a running buggy to take her baby with her. She hopes that by the time she’s ready, Park Runs and running clubs will be back in action.

Talking about her decision to not run during her pregnancy, she says that anxiety got in the way, saying, “Lots of people do it quite late into pregnancy, but I was terrified of another loss. Nobody could persuade me otherwise”.

Saying that she dreams of running, when she’s back to it, she’ll start off sensibly, with a Couch to 5K programme, and can’t wait for her first sprint down the river.

“There are lots of things in life you can’t control. But I’ve found that lacing up my trainers, heading to a park, river or a field either alone or with friends gives you the vital head space you need to think through worries methodically.”

How are you coping with your fertility treatment? What have you turned to, to help you cope with the pressure of trying to conceive? Drop us a line at info@ivfbabble.com

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