First there was the plantar fasciitis. I overdid things in 2017, though I had a ball doing it. Three months on Te Araroa and a month hiking the Kungsleden and Haute Route destroyed my feet, and I had to take nearly a year off. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the tissue on bottom of the feet, leading to sharp pain in the soles and heels. So there was to be no running, no climbing and absolutely no tramping until it was fixed. It was torture not being able to do the things I love with the people I love. Strategies to cope with this enforced lifestyle change included a brief foray into bike-packing, reacquaintance with swimming and a lot of Norwegian drama on Netflix.
My rehabilitation involved learning a better gait (“more ostrich, less penguin”), strengthening my ankles, stretching and strengthening my plantar fascia, stretching my calves and spending umpteen hours rolling a tennis ball under my foot. It was slow but thanks to the guidance of podiatrist Kim Tottenham, I got better and was able to start building up strength again with small hikes.
Then there was gestating a human. At first I carried on with the tramping progression I had been doing prior to getting up the duff, increasing my ascents and pack weight. This worked ok on trips to Powell Hut and Tutuwai Hut, but at 16 weeks I attempted Kapakapanui, which is a 900m+ climb in the Tararuas on rough steep tracks. It took eight hours instead of my usual six, and was absolutely type III fun. I felt like I was hauling a steam train up a hill.
So after that I started taking it easier and cut down to flat or near flat walks only. Well, except for the the sneaky and somewhat hilly 200km cycle ride from Bath to Wales on National Cycle Route 4 at 20 weeks, which was bloody hard but extremely rewarding.
It is possible to continue exercising for most of pregnancy, though some activities need adjusting, and some people find it doesn’t work for them. Thanks to the expert advice and classes of Tanya at PhysioNatal plus pregnancy yoga I kept strong to the end. Tanya taught us how to keep the core strong and align the trunk of the body for efficient movement, and how to keep the pelvis mobile to encourage a smoother labour. I did plenty of (flat) walking to keep my fitness up as best I could and to get the baby into a good position for birth.
Then there was producing said human, and learning to care for him. Birth is probably like running an ultramarathon, except without training and in the wrong shoes. The first month of parenthood was physically and mentally exhausting. But then the fog lifted and there I was with a gorgeous and contented baby in my arms, who shall henceforth on this blog be named Elmo (name changed for his privacy).
So I’ve had a few excuses. But no longer! We are going outdoors and we are going to do it properly. I’m a novice at hiking with a baby but I am going to learn fast, because we have a short window (a year?) before Elmo gets too many opinions to be easily slung in a sling and hauled up mountains. I’ll record what I learn on my new Baby Hiking page, and tell the best stories here.