So, at 6 months pregnant (and counting), I’ve finally come to the conclusion that, equipped with an added 20 lbs packed on and an increasingly temperamental bladder, I needed an alternative to running (sigh). While I can still mount an elliptical and break into the odd jog, with mini-giraffe sitting so darn low in my belly, the bouncing – more often than not – quickly ushers me into a brisk-paced walk and, after weeks of denial, I’ve admitted defeat. Nay, not defeat, more the need to stretch my horizons and explore the world of… power walking.
Developing a love for the leisurely walk
When I was young, I use to hate walking. My parents would try to get me to walk with them, around the block, with the dog, but I refused, choosing to wave as I ran by in training for one sport or the other. It was only as I slid into my twenties that I began to understand the appeal of going for a good walk. The escape, away from the busy-ness of life, for one thing, and the rare opportunity it provided to chat with the people I loved, away from distractions. Walking became the equivalent of quality time spent with my dad as we charged through the forests contemplating the meaning of life, my future, his business and the nit-pickings of anything else going on in our world of two.
Now that I’m out of the house on a more permanent basis, I’ve started walking with my husband. Wherever we are, we always try to steal a little bit of time for “us” and that time is normally best served in the form of a long walk, isolated from the group with nothing to do but listen to each other’s thoughts, away from computers and TV to casually eye in the background.
Toying with the power walk as a form of exercise
Never did I ever expect that walking would at some point become my go-to workout of choice. That being said, when you’re in your teenage years, you hardly think about what life will be life once you’re pregnant and can’t bend over to tie your sneakers, let alone huff and puff your way through an hour long run. That being my reality, two weeks ago, I decided to put on the runners and head to the gym. As per usual, I mounted the treadmill but this time, I wasn’t running, I was walking.
Taking ginormous strides, I strutted with my hands swinging by my sides. For 45 minutes or so, I was walking like I was late to the most important interview of my life! Unfortunately, I stepped off at the end of my walk without so much as a bead of sweat dripping down my face. I was bummed. I longed for the adrenaline rush, you know, the kind you get after an incredible workout, when you’ve worked so hard, you’re red in the face, sweat dripping down your neck and walking delicately because each muscle is throbbing with pain. So, I left with no rush, but with a behind that was nice and sore the day after! Who knew? Chalk one up for speed walkers everywhere.
After my episode on the treadmill, I was still open to power walking but decided that in the gym, it’s still better if I hop on the elliptical or do some weights to balance my efforts. I decided that I would try to keep the walking outdoors.
A walk of discovery
So, today, for the first time, I took my giraffe sized walking strides, to the streets – or rather the trails, to be precise! And a glorious day it was too – the sun was shining and I was ready to take on the world!
I was armed with my phone, which I never have on me while I run, and a set of (so embarrassing) hand weights. The hand weights had come with a pacemaker I’d been given last year. The weights were still in the package, until yesterday when I swung them proudly by my side, trying to reap the most benefit I could out of my hour long trek.
As I walked through the trails, saying hello to dog walkers, nodding to joggers and chatting with the birds as they chirped overhead, I started to realize the other benefit of the power walk – the ability to take in your environment without quickly passing through. I started noticing squirrels hiding in their trees, roses tucked alongside the weeds and was able to stop and appreciate sights of interest, like the tombstone of sir William Lyon Mackenzie King (prime minister of Canada 1921-30 and then again from 1935-48) covered with pennies at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, and things of pure beauty – like this amazing note (see below) that I found painted onto a concrete block as I made the second half of the journey home.
“Anything is possible” it says, and ain’t it the absolute truth. I for one, never thought I’d say this but, in fact, I think the next few months will be nicely balanced by power walking my way through the trails of the GTA.