No Politics in Running + other things…

You know where there are no politics? In the delivery room. I love to run, but I do have a day job as an OB/GYN doc. I have to pay the bills after all. And I’m not going to lie, my day job REALLY gets in the way of my running.

It’s not even just a day job, it’s an all-night job sometimes. Babies around the world make their entrance at all hours of the day and night. I’ve delivered thousands of babies…thousands and thousands.

It’s to the point where I can look at a woman’s face and I can just tell if she’s in labor. There is a kind of stress that a woman wears in her expression that says, “Something big is about happen.” This look is universal.

Obviously, there are surprises in labor and delivery, but in many ways childbirth is quite predictable. I know what’s going to happen. After however many times a woman says, “I can’t do this,” she does it, she pushes the baby out.

It’s the same in so many ways, so often. It doesn’t matter if the woman is from Denver or from Boston or from Houston or L.A. It doesn’t matter if she is rich or poor, speaks English or Arabic. It doesn’t matter if she is nice or mean or smart or funny or tall or redheaded or really anything. She can be black or white, maybe she was born here, maybe in Mexico or maybe New Zealand or Russia. It doesn’t matter. It’s basically the same every time.

It sure as heck doesn’t matter who she voted for in the last election or what she thinks will fix the economy or if she thinks someone can take a knee at the national anthem at the football game.

Birthing a baby is the same, with the same twists and the same risks and the same joys, and the same heartaches for ALL women. All babies come out the same. No politics.

No politics in running either. All kinds of people line up at the start line of a race. People from all over the world, from all different backgrounds, and probably some of those people would have a pretty hot debate over any number of political disagreements we have in this country if they were together in different circumstances.

At the race though, we’re all friends. We’re all looking to get moving to see how far and how fast we can run. Although we like to beat each other, we also love to hear about each other’s successes and triumphs. We love to hear about a new runner, just discovering the joys of a beautiful three-mile run on a cool, fall day. We love to run together.

Oh sure, if I think about politics when I’m running, I’ll get a full-on rant going in my head and I’ll drop my pace a minute per mile or more, depending on how bad the yelling in my head is.

But otherwise, running is kind of like childbirth. It’s something for all of us, something that is the same across all countries, races, religious, and yes, political parties.

Childbirth and running, they’re kind of cool that way.


— Joyce Gottesfeld, MD, is an OB/GYN and has been practicing with Kaiser Permanente Colorado for 21 years. She’s a wife, proud mother of three girls, and an avid runner. When she is not doing the work that she loves – delivering babies, performing surgery, and helping women in the most personal area of their lives – she is making her way through the crazy chaos of a full life.