As soon as I think I’ve heard it all, I’m proven wrong.
“You’re still running?” many have said.
“You ran how many miles yesterday?” is what I’ve heard from others.
Or, one of my personal favorites, “Did you know running causes premature labor?”
It’s questions like these that play on like a skipping CD through my weekly conversations.
I just smile and nod. Or, to the premature labor inquiry, I laugh outright and rebut with a probe on where they got their information.
Because for the record, there are many things that can cause premature labor, but running has never been proven to be one of them.
Just two days ago I heard and witnessed one of the most surprising reactions to my running regime.
As I gently shuffled down the Perseverance Trail, an out-of-town family approached from the direction of the trailhead. As they hiked, some looked skyward with binoculars, others snapped pictures and the two adults each carried backpacks with visibly stretched seams. One of the girls, likely in her teens, looked up as I approached. Her reaction was instantaneous and seemingly instinctual. With a loud, “Ahhhh,” she ran to the opposite side of the trail and hunkered behind her family as I passed.
At only 5-foot 2-inches tall, I can’t imagine I’m that scary. But perhaps the sight of a hugely pregnant woman sauntering down the trail was enough to conjure up some serious fear.
Maybe she was just giving me the right of way.
Regardless of the reason for her alarm, it was certainly a reaction I had yet to encounter. And, I sure hope she’s not haunted by the run in.
But yes, I am still running — most of the time. I’ve developed what I call the “rike.” It’s a mix of hiking and running and actually it’s not the first time in my life I’ve employed the technique. During my days as a competitive Nordic skier at the University of Colorado and Nevada, we would frequently head out into the mountains for a preseason rike with poles to simulate classic — or striding — technique.
Essentially, riking is quite simple: run the flats and rolling terrain and vigorously hike any true hill. The idea behind the technique is to maintain a stable heartrate and a stable level of exertion.
It’s perfect for pregnancy exercise, as well — especially in the mountainous terrain around Juneau. The key is to stay light on your toes. Resist settling into a true hike on the uphills — this tends to happen when the hips drop back and the torso migrates forward. I like to envision tiny springs on the balls of my feet that push me into the next stride. Using this technique, I find I’m able to tackle virtually any terrain while keeping my exertion level in check.
Another question I frequently hear is, “how much longer are you going to run?”
To that I have no exact answer.
I’m certain I’ll stay as active as possible as long as it feels good to do so. How long that will last, I can’t say.
But I do know I feel better after a run than before I start. And, I know I feel antsy and downright crummy the days that I don’t.
In the meantime, I’ll keep riking along, logging mile after smiling slow mile.
This week’s trail of choice is the Rainforest Trail on the northern tip of Douglas Island. This mile-long loop begins at a small parking lot after the turnout to False Outer Point. It’s a wide — but not road-like — and user-friendly trail that winds through a spectacular slice of rainforest down to the beach. Even on a rainy day, the thick canopy above provides reprieve from the rain. Just down the road a separate turnoff leads provides access to the slightly-longer Outer Point Trail. This loop is a mix of boardwalk and gravel. It meanders through marshes, muskeg and rainforest while also providing beach access. Both are a great place for an afternoon walk or a family outing. Just be wary of the boardwalk on the Outer Point Trail after a hard rain. The resident slime can prove quite treacherous.
• Remember, everyone is different. Make sure to check with your doctor or midwife before beginning an exercise program. Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at firstname.lastname@example.org.