ALASKA with Amanda, Elaina, and Abigail

Thinking of Alaska, grizzly bears, epic mountains, and quite possibly, a rugged life might come to mind. But have you ever wondered about the local tribes and the people who are native to these wild lands? Or what skills and traditions they carry on today to keep them in relationship with the land?

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Many are familiar with Denali, the highest mountain peak in Northern America, located in the Alaska Range. Deenaalee is the mountain’s original name in the language of the indigenous, Dene, Athabaskan. The native peoples of this area are a resourceful people that glean many resources from the land.

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Summer days are much fewer than the long winter nights, and in order to make it through another winter, there are many activities throughout the summer to support the winter plight. Three women, proudly preserving these traditions, are Amanda and Elaina, both born to the Dene people and their friend Abigail who is Hispanic. They are often found traversing the land that their ancestors and friends roamed for hundreds of years. Alaska provides beautiful trails, glaciers, and mountains to explore and waters to fish in.

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You will find these friends carrying on the wisdom and resourcefulness of the people they come from as they pick berries along the trail; berries to can and preserve for winter months, berries for making pies, or berries simply popped in the mouth for a snack on the way home from a long day of foraging. And you will find these friends out on the water fishing for salmon, converted later into dried fish strips, salmon dip, or smoked salmon. Salmon with everything! That is the Alaskan way.

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When you are with Amanda, Elaina, and Abigail, it’s immediately evident that nothing is wasted. Moose and caribou provide meat, their hide provides warmth added to clothing, and bones become jewelry, utensils, or handles for the tavash (Deg Xinag). Everything has a purpose, a duty, a task. This resourcefulness is born of respect for the gifts from the land and the water. It is this relationship between people and nature that gives a sense of balance and harmony.

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These are modern native women. Always adventuring and enjoying the outdoors. You will usually find these friends out on trails, making memories, laughing and taking pictures. They stop to fuel up with salmon dip that a mother packed for them. Then the adventure presses forward, journeying to catch that certain light in a place where light is either abundant or scarce depending on the season. They go exploring with sons and mothers, the mountain air always promising joy.

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When you see Alaskan native women out in the sun, laughing together, and enjoying the land of our Creator, you see a glimpse of the past and peer into the future. If you pay attention, you can hear and see their mothers, grandmothers, and ancestors that came before them. You’ll see them in their faces, their hands, and within the iris of their eyes. You will see strong women who have endured the land, endured hardships, and through all of this, you will see beauty. It is that great beauty that these three women represent.

Strength and beauty will always follow them. It flows in their veins, through their children and grandchildren. There is nothing too hard for them. For if they can’t do it alone, they have their community to support and help them. Alaskan life, full of strength and beauty in all ways.

Blog content provided by Jaylyn Gough. Read more here to learn about her travels in Alaska.

ALASKA with Deenaalee Hodgdon

“Got Salmon on my mind (as usual). My excitement, as we begin to look toward Salmon Season, is coupled with a little dread,” says Deenaalee Hodgdon.

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Deenaalee is one of the incredible human beings born of the Dene People Deg Xit’an Dene and Sugpiaq Peoples. Deg Xit’an Dené/Sugpiaq. They are an enrolled member of the Tribe of Anvik and a shareholder of Doyon, Limited and Bristol Bay Native Corporation fisherwoman working in Bristol Bay, Alaska. They are a leader in their community, and they have been carrying on the fight to protect their waters, their fish, and the land of their ancestors.

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Every year, roughly 40-50 million salmon make an epic journey from the open ocean to the waters of Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay is located at the easternmost arm of the Bering Sea and sits at 400km long and 290km wide. It’s home to many wildlife species, including great numbers of wild salmon. The salmon provide sustenance to both humans and wildlife. Bristol Bay’s salmon supplies around 50% of the world’s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon. This resource generates more than a billion dollars for the Alaskan economy and employs over 14,000 fishery workers. It is the largest and most lucrative wild salmon fishery in the world.

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The health and sustainability of Deenaalee’s home, of Bristol Bay and its incredible salmon resource, are facing tandem threats – mining and climate change. The land and it’s waters are threatened by the proposed Pebble Mine. In November 2020, the US Army Corps of Engineers denied a federal permit to begin building the mine. The permit was rejected as being non-compliant with the Clean Water Act. This was a small, celebrated victory for the many tribes, fishermen, local communities, and environmentalists who have been fighting this battle for 13 years. But they know all too well that this region is not fully protected from future mining endeavors. The area still lies in threat evidenced by the fact that just last month, on January 25, 2021, an appeal was filed by Pebble Limited Partnership (PLP) challenging the permit denial. The proposed mine has lived many lives over the course of the last 13 years. Though the permit was rejected in November, due diligence and permanent protection of the Bristol Bay watershed is necessary for long-term sustainability. We know this battle isn’t over because our land and waters continue to be raped by the hands of greed.

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In the summer you will find Deenaalee working on a boat in the Alaskan waters, hawling in those fish that we love to eat. They know all too well that climate change presents ever increasing challenges in this area. “The hot weather we faced in 2019 caused salmon to go belly up in our bays and rivers. It is estimated that anywhere between 100,000- 200,000 salmon passed away while trying to return to their spawning grounds across Bristol Bay and in the Kuskokwim. With climate change comes sea rising temperatures and fish, particularly salmon become dazed and confused at around 70F. While I look forward to being out on the water with my stellar crew again, I wonder what we will witness? To what temperature will the water rise too? When will the salmon return and in what numbers? Will my fellow commercial fishermen recognize the extent to which we need to have a real conversation about the impacts of climate change on the watershed, the fish, and Indigenous Lifeways?” says Deenaalee.

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For Deenaalee, their waters and the land are everything. They live and breathe them. They run in their veins alongside the strength of their ancestors. As they wander the mountains, hunting or hiking, as they traverse the waters, fishing or exploring, they embody the spirit and power of their People. Deenaalee is strengthened by the knowledge that they follow the same journey as their ancestors. Their ancestors fished these waters and sought to live in harmony with the land. They too fought to protect their four-legged and water cousins from invaders, the colonizers. One sees the journey in their eyes, through their swift movement on water, and the pounding of their feet as they gracefully play with their pup. They are home and their ancestors embrace them fiercely.

@on.the.land

On The Land Media Collective

Save Bristol Bay

United Tribes of Bristol Bay

Blog content provided by Jaylyn Gough. Read more here to learn about her travels in Alaska.

 

 

 

How These Black Founders of Hiking Collectives Are Creating A Sense of Belonging On The Trails

The outdoors are intrinsically for everyone. However, finding a sense of belonging on the trails can be challenging for many. Colour Outside, Colour The Trails, and Abundant Life Adventure Club are challenging this narrative.

These three Black led hiking organizations are exploring everywhere from the Smoky Mountains of Nashville, Tennessee to the snowy peaks of Salt Lake City, Utah. While charting these trails they are changing the face of the outdoor industry. 

We spoke to the founders of these three Black hiking collectives to learn what prompted their start, the role authenticity plays in sustaining a thriving community, and what creating a sense of belonging within the outdoor industry looks like to them.

Nailah Blades, Founder of Color Outside, Salt Lake City, Utah

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HOKA: When did you come to realize that you needed to create your own hiking collective? 

Nailah Blades: I started Color Outside at the end of 2016. My family and I moved from Southern California to Salt Lake City, Utah. This was a huge cultural shift. I had just become a new mother, my daughter was just a little over the age of one, so I was trying to navigate motherhood. I also had a business that I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to continue. I just felt like I had a lot of upheavals. Once I started exploring the outdoors I felt so much more at peace. 

I felt like I was rediscovering parts of myself. I felt like I could make a lot of the decisions I was trying to make a lot easier, and I just felt like other people, other women, particularly other Black women needed to experience the outdoors as well. I started Color Outside because it was the community that I needed. I wanted to explore the outdoors, and I wanted to do it with other Black women and women of color.

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HOKA: What was the process of starting your own hiking collective? 

Blades:I started with a meetup group. I sent out a note about a hiking event, and put that out into the world, and I was shocked. I thought that only two or three women would join the group initially, but I had over 100 women join which was shocking. 

About eight women showed up to the first event, and we hiked to this spot called The Living Room Trailhead, it was just so much fun to be out there with women who looked like me, had similar experiences finding their footing and their community.

HOKA: What role does authenticity play in creating this thriving community that you have? 

Blades: I think authenticity is huge and I think especially for Black women. We know when something just doesn’t feel right to us. I think that’s one of the bigger draws to Color Outside. We are a community who is striving to get outdoors, fight for joy, and take up space. 

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HOKA: What is one of the most memorable hikes that you’ve ever been on? 

Blades: I think one of the most memorable hikes that I’ve done with the group is the first hike that we ever did at the retreat in Heber Valley, Utah, it was in September, and it was totally beautiful. It snowed that weekend which we weren’t anticipating. I made sure I had all of this extra gear for people. 

We hiked around the hill, we slid, and no one was complaining about anything. It was just one of those moments where things didn’t go the way they were planned, but it worked out the way it was supposed to. Hiking around in the snow might not be something that I would do in my everyday life, but the women were open to doing it and embraced a spirit of adventure.

HOKA: What does creating a sense of belonging on the trails and in the hiking industry look like for you? 

Blades:When you belong, you feel it in your bones. We all deserve to take up space in the outdoors and feel like we’re meant to be there. I’m striving to create a sense of belonging with Color Outside, whether that’s coming out and hiking with us as a group or scrolling through our social posts, and that encourages you to say, yeah I belong there. I deserve to get outside and do what I want to do. 

Judith Kasiama, Founder of Colour The Trails, Chapters Across Canada 

DSC_2217Photos by Pavel Boiko 

HOKA: When did you come to realize that you needed to create your own hiking collective? 

Kasiama: In 2016, I decided to create my own hiking collective with friends, but it quickly grew. There were a lot of interested hikers, but they didn’t have a community that looked like them. Colour The Trails developed from the desire to connect with my community and create a safe space to go hiking. 

HOKA: What was the process of starting your own hiking collective? 

Kasiama: The initial start was just posting on Facebook. Some people weren’t necessarily super into hiking, but they were curious about it. There was a lot of word of mouth, a lot of Facebook posts, and then with time Colour, The Trails started to grow more of a presence.

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HOKA: What role does authenticity play in creating this thriving community that you have? 

Kasiama: Authenticity is important. I didn’t start Colour The Trails to be recognized by the industry or by brands, I started it because I love hiking. There’s the fear of racism and hiking is a very white space, even if there are other people of color doing it. It’s important to me to make sure those who are curious about the outdoors know that it’s accessible to them. 

It’s not about the publicity for me. It’s more about the fun of exploration and the fun of bringing people along because when I take people on hikes and they begin to see all of the beauty they are like wow this is something out of National Geographic. You can go use your own body and have a beautiful peaceful time in nature. I just want to share that experience and it has nothing to do with being recognized. I think that’s what remaining authentic means to me.

HOKA: What is one of the most memorable hikes that you’ve ever been on? 

Kasiama: This past summer at the Canadian Rockies. It was a two-day hike for one of them and then the other one was four days of trekking. So the four-day tracking one was a very long hike and it was in Mount Goodsir in British Columbia and it’s just one of the most beautiful trails that I’ve done. 

I just didn’t know how to describe it, there is just this beautiful glacier up there and beautiful blue color lakes by Mount Robson. The funny thing is so many people who have gone through this hike haven’t gotten this view because of the unpredictable weather patterns, but where we went we had two beautiful nights of really warm weather in August and it was just beautiful and then the second part of that was a four-day trek to The Rockies to this area called Rockwall, which is this entire rock facing mountain, which goes for huge kilometers and you spend a night at each different stop, and the first part was very hard because it was very forestry, but then once we got to the actual rock wall facing side and it was just like endless beautiful scenery, and it was almost like Patagonia. I haven’t been to Patagonia yet, but I’ve been doing my research because I’m planning to go to Patagonia.

Then with Colour The Trails just outside of Whisler there is a hike that we did called

Wedgemount Lake and Wedge Mountain. A really big group of us went out and did this very advanced trail. It was just very fun to have an entire crew of Black people, people of color on that hike. 

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HOKA: What does creating a sense of belonging on the trails and in the hiking industry look like for you? 

Kasiama: Ultimately, we’re all looking at social media and advertisement. Imagery and stories shape us as a culture and as well society. Unfortunately, for a long time, all we saw were white men going and climbing mountains trying to conquer Mount Everest, but we never really take a moment to stop and think about how the locals are charting those trails. 

It’s important to recognize that we did exclude a lot of people from the outdoor space. It has to do with history, it cautions a lot of Black people with how they engage themselves in the outdoors. There are so many Canadians from different parts of the world who are refugees and immigrants. A lot of times so our parents aren’t prioritizing taking us out into nature, because as immigrants you are worried about taking care of your kids, paying rent, and all of that. I guess the first generation of us who went out there was like, okay we can have the luxury of enjoying the outdoors

I think that we have to recognize the history and the stories of the past and also work hard at showcasing diverse experiences, so there is no longer just a single story of white men in the outdoors.

Claude and Dr. Kim Walker, Founders of Abundant Life Adventure Club, Nashville, TN 

Hoka_TyreGrannemann_AdventureClub-11Photos by Tyre Grannemann

HOKA: When did you come to realize that you needed to create your own hiking collective? 

Dr. Kim Walker: It all just formed organically, after we were hiking and discovering the outdoors on our own. We started to invite friends to come with us. Then we created this learn how to hike series that we posted online and invited people intentionally whether we knew them or not, we had a few people come out and we did that about six times. 

We went to the same park and did different trails and we realized that we should really become an organization, try it out and see how it goes.

Claude Walker: Our love for hiking was triggered in 2017 when we went through a major lifestyle change. The major lifestyle change allowed us to be more active, and we became more curious about doing things to keep our bodies well.

HOKA: What was the process of starting your own hiking collective? 

Dr. Kim: We created a flyer on a whim inviting people to come out to our beginner hiking series, learn how to hike, and discover the awesomeness of nature. We put it on each of our personal Facebook profiles and that’s really where it all started. Eight people came out and they loved it. We were just going to do it that one time, but everyone loved it so we did it again. We created a Fall hiking series and we just kept putting it on our personal Facebook pages. People started sharing it with their network, their friends, and after we had those six hikes towards the end of that year. Then we decided to fully commit to it and called ourselves the Abundant Life Adventure Club. 

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HOKA: What role does authenticity play in creating this thriving community that you have? 

Claude: Our community developed organically and I think it developed that way because Kim and I have always been authentic. We’ve always been our true selves. We feel like being your true selves allows people to come and be rejuvenated for the week. I feel like providing that space for people resonates with people.

Dr. Kim: It also helps them to feel more comfortable and helps them to feel more welcome and like they belong with our community, because especially in our area and many areas it’s just a lack of outdoor spaces where Black people feel welcome and like they can be themselves. 

I know for a lot of our members our adventures might be the only place where they aren’t the only Black person. They might be the only Black person, but here we can share our stories, listen to music, and our culture without screening ourselves.

HOKA: What is one of the most memorable hikes that you’ve ever been on? 

Dr. Kim: We went to the Smoky Mountains and did a 10 ½ mile hike. It was straight incline, but some of the things that we saw on the way, it was just like God looking at us. It was beautiful, so we got to the top of the mountain, had lunch,  we really just looked at the view of the mountains all around, and basically thanked God for even being able to do that. It was a very transformative experience for us. 

We said we have to share this experience with our people. We were hiking for 8 hour that day. We did not see another Black person at all, and  we were in the most highly populated park in the country.

Two years later we worked to recreate this experience for our community. We have people of different fitness levels, ages, and experiences on the hike. When you go to places like that on the top of a mountain. It gives you a different perspective on life, which is needed in that moment.

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HOKA: What does creating a sense of belonging on the trails and in the hiking industry look like for you?

Dr. Kim: Creating a sense of belonging means feeling safe and like you are supposed to be there. Unfortunately, a lot of people feel the opposite. They feel unsafe and like they aren’t supposed to be there or they are unsure whether it is okay for them to be there, because no one in the space looks like them. 

When you go they give you an awkward stare or ask, what are you doing here? We still get that, so just being in a community that is excited that you are there, and you aren’t the odd ball out. No one really likes to feel that way, so that’s what we keep in mind even when we created our experiences. 

Claude: I think you have to be intentional when you want to make someone feel welcome, and I think it almost can make someone feel like they are going out of their way to make someone feel welcome, but sometimes it is about going out of your way to make someone feel welcome. It’s more than just monetary things that make someone feel welcome. 

Blog content provided by Priscilla Ward.

Stretches to Help Relieve and Prevent Leg Cramps

You’re striding gracefully along at a quick clip, endorphins at full blast, loping toward a new personal best – then alarm bells go off, a sudden pain seizes you up in a targeted area, and you’re forced to screech to a halt.

Nothing spoils an otherwise perfect run quite like a cramp.

Maybe it’s an abrupt ache in the arch of your foot. Maybe it’s a stinging feeling all up and down your side. Maybe it’s the dreaded charley horse. Regardless of where it happens, every cramp feels bad.

Your body is telling you to stop and tend to it before you take even one more step. The good news: cramps are all temporary maladies, and there are some steps you can take to help prevent them from happening.

More persistent issues are another matter entirely. Simple stretching isn’t a cure-all for every kind of leg pain. Always ask a doctor for advice if you’re dealing with a running injury or long-term issue.

So what actually causes cramping, and what can you do to prevent and relieve them?

What causes muscle cramps?

A muscle cramp is an involuntary contraction of a muscle. They tend to be sudden and, in some cases, (e.g. charley horse) very painful. Most muscle cramps occur in the legs.

A whole host of different factors may contribute muscle cramps: pinched nerves, poor blood circulation, even holding one position for too long can cause them.

For runners, the most relevant causes are dehydration, overuse of a muscle, muscle strains, magnesium or potassium deficiencies and long periods of physical activity, especially in hot weather. All are important to consider if you’re looking to prevent leg cramps.

Can stretching prevent or cause leg cramps?

Stretching can help prevent some leg cramps, especially those that may be caused by a muscle strain. When your legs are warmed up and limber before going on a run, you’ll be less likely to strain a muscle. That said, stretching won’t always help prevent cramps associated with dehydration or a lack of magnesium.

Proper stretching shouldn’t cause muscle cramps, although “proper” is the operative word. Poor stretching form can contribute to cramps later on. If you feel any pain while stretching, stop the stretch immediately. Stretching can make muscle strains and tears worse, even if you’re doing it correctly. If the pain persists, seek advice from a medical professional.

Some runners prefer to avoid stretching, but it’s never a bad thing to do unless you’re doing it incorrectly. If you’re unfamiliar with basic stretching techniques, read our quick tips for running beginners. 

Stretches to help prevent leg cramps

There are many ways to stretch out your legs. It’s best to focus on the stretches that target the key leg muscles your body uses during a run.

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Calf stretch

  1. Stand with your left foot in front of your right.
  2. Keep your right leg straight and bend your left leg forward.
  3. Make sure your right foot is straight and stays planted on the ground.
  4. Straighten your back and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. 
  5. Repeat with your right leg. 

You’ll feel the stretch from your ankle up to the back of your knee.

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Standing quad stretch

  1. Stand straight up and pull your right leg behind you with your right hand. 
  2. Pull your shin toward your thigh.
  3. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. 
  4. Repeat with your left leg.

You can place the hand you’re not using on a table (or the like)  to help with balance. You’ll feel the stretch in the front of your thigh.

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Sitting hamstring stretch

  1. Sit on the ground and extend your right leg.
  2. Bring your left foot as close to your right thigh as possible.
  3. Lean forward, grabbing your toes with your right hand if possible. 
  4. Hold this position for 20 seconds, and be sure not to actually pull your toes back (it’s fine if you can’t reach them). 

You’ll feel the stretch on your upper back legs, from your glutes down to the top of your knees.

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Sitting calf and hamstring stretch

  1. Sit on the ground with both legs extended.
  2. Keeping your back straight, bend at the hips and lean forward, grabbing your toes. 
  3. Hold for 20 seconds

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Standing lunge

  1. Stand in a split stance, with your right front forward and your left foot back. Bend your right knee at about a 90-degree angle.
  2. Press down on your knee and push your hips forward. You’ll feel a stretch in your left leg. 
  3. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. 
  4. Repeat with your other leg. 

This stretch hits your hamstrings and your quads. You can also lunge up and down instead of holding for a more dynamic stretch. 

It’s also worth knowing a few stretches that target muscles that tend not to cramp. For runners, stretching your iliotibial band is crucial. Your IT band won’t cramp up, but you can get ITB syndrome, which is incredibly painful. Read our guide to ITB stretching for more. 

Stretches to help relieve leg cramps

When you get a cramp, stretching the affected muscle is the best way to relieve it. And the one good thing about a cramp is that you’ll know exactly where it is. The most common cramps affect the hamstring, calf and quad muscles. Any of the above stretches can help relieve a cramp, but there are many more you can do.

Stretches to relieve calf cramps

  • Heel drop stretch
  • Wall calf stretch
  • Seated calf stretch with band
  • Downward dog
  • Lunging calf stretch

Stretches to relieve hamstring cramps

  • Towel hamstring stretch
  • Wall (or couch) hamstring stretch
  • Kneeling hip flexor
  • Banded hamstring stretch (lying down)
  • Child’s pose

Stretches to relieve quad cramps

  • Lying quad stretch
  • Frog pose
  • Lying pigeon position
  • Kneeling quad stretch

Other ways to prevent leg cramps

Beyond stretching, the most important thing you can do to prevent leg cramps is to stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, especially if it’s a hot day. 

Magnesium and potassium deficiencies have also been linked to cramps, so you want to get enough of each. Have a banana in the morning – or carry one with you on longer runs. If you do get a cramp and think it’s due to dehydration or a mineral deficiency, replacing those substances can relieve the cramp.

You also want to make sure you’re not over-exercising. No amount of water, stretching, or bananas will stop cramps if you’re pushing your legs too hard. 

Preventing and relieving cramps is all about being prepared. Stretch before a run and stay hydrated. Memorize a few stretches to relieve stretches when they do happen, and don’t let cramps get in your way. 

The perfect run is always right around the corner. It’s Time to Fly™

Want more information on cramps, stretches and stretch techniques? Check out the following:

Resources:

Runner’s World – The Complete Guide to Stretching for Runners

Healthline – Essential Stretches for Runners

Good Housekeeping – 3 Easy Moves to Get Rid of Leg Cramps

WebMD – What Stretches Can Help With Muscles Cramps?

Cleveland Clinic – Leg Cramps

Healthline – Running Tips: 3 Essential Quad Stretches

Healthline – Stretches and Treatment for Tight Calves

 

 

Couples Running: The HOKA Guide

Running inspires passion. Those who love it love it: the early mornings, the drive to improve, the taste of fresh air in your lungs. Sharing a common passion with someone is one of the greatest joys in life, especially when that person is your partner. 

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Exercising with a partner can be thrilling. You’ll have someone to hold you accountable, challenge you, and encourage you. Whether it’s a long run or a breezy couples’ jog, it’s always nice to have someone to talk to. Coupled running has its own unique benefits.

That said, running with a partner isn’t always as simple as it may sound.

Before you venture out on the road or trail together, you’ll want to be aware of a few key considerations not involved in solo running. Unspoken decisions such as pace, the length of the run, and when to break for water now require healthy communication with someone else. Thankfully, this isn’t all that hard –  you’ve just got to know what to plan for.

Benefits of couples running

ArahiCouple1 (The Arahi 5 are featured in this image)

Running as a couple can benefit both your relationship and your running.

Even if you love it, running consistently is tough. There are days when you’re exhausted, busy, or simply unmotivated. Your partner can be a huge help on days like that. With two people invested in exercising together, you’ll be much more likely to get out there and go for it. And once you do, it helps to have somebody encouraging you to push for the finish.

If one (or both) of you is new to running or starting again after a long break, the accountability and encouragement of a partner will be a massive help. And don’t discount the benefits to seasoned runnersa partner can help shake up your routine and even give you some competition (if you both want it, of course!). 

There’s also the social aspect. Many people rely on the social component of running as a major motivator. With new safety considerations impacting race events and running groups, running with your partner can be a safe way to bring that social component back into the mix.

Running with your partner can give each run a different purpose. You might run just for exercise, and it’s ok to keep that as your main goal. But with your partner, you can set other goalsbonding, competitionto keep things fresh and interesting. On a larger scale, you and your partner can coach each other. A goal like “I’m going to work on my form” is much more effective when you’ve got someone who can watch you on a day-to-day basis. 

It’s also just nice to be able to share something like running with your partner. It’s an invigorating way to spend time together, and a nice change of pace (no pun intended) from your average movie or date night.

How to develop a rhythm with a running partner

Gaviota-Couple (The Gaviota 3 are featured in this image)

With all that said, there are some things to keep in mind if you want to run as a couple. Running with a partner requires some pre-planning, especially before the first time.

The top consideration to discuss is pace. Barring an amazing coincidence, you and your partner will naturally run at different speeds, and you’ll each have your own preferred pace. You’ll need to meet in the middle, and agree on ways to communicate your preferences before you head out together.

It makes sense to run at the pace of the slower runner. The simplest way to do this is to let the slower runner lead. But you could also run at the slower pace for part of the run and split up midway, slow things down to a jog but go on a harder route, or run laps on a field or track at different speeds. There are a ton of ways to go about it, but in general, it’s a good idea to start slow if you’re going to run as a couple. You can always speed things up as you learn each other’s pace.

You’ll run into differences beyond pace the more you run together, such as water breaks, how much you prefer to talk, or if you want to listen to the same, different, or no music. You can experiment with all of these until you find something that feels right—like any other aspect of your relationship, just make sure to keep the lines of communication honest and open, with the idea in mind that you’re both trying to make it work

It’s helpful to set expectations before every run. Is this run going to be more social or exercise focused? Is it going to be a race, or are you going to stick together the whole time? If your partner just wants to go for a relaxing jog, the last thing you want to do is start a run in competition mode.

You’ll want to nail down the details too. Plan your route and agree on a pace ahead of time. Make sure both of you know how long you plan on running, and on what schedule. You can still keep a cadence that includes solo runs. But make sure your partner knows when that’s the case, so they don’t feel left out.

Again, some things you won’t be able to control. It might take a month or two to figure out the best way to run as a couple. So take it easy, don’t put undue pressure on your ability to mesh perfectly as a running unit, and don’t sweat it if running with a partner doesn’t come naturally at first.

Fun workouts and races for couples

GaviotaCouple2 (The Gaviota 3 are featured in this image)

It’s fine to simply treat running with your partner as “we’ll do a normal run, together.” There’s something to be said for a light jog and a conversation. But when you have a running partner, it opens up new aspects of a running regimen that wouldn’t work alone.

For example, one of you doesn’t have to run at all. Try a day where one person runs and the other rides along on a bike. This will work for mornings where one person doesn’t feel up for a run, or if they want to focus on watching and coaching the other person. It’s great for when the faster runner wants to push themselves. They can run hard while the biker rides along and encourages them.

Relays and sprints are also an option. Sprint relays can be a great change of pace, though you’ll want to find a track or park where you can do it undisturbed. Long relays are a little odd to set up with two people—one might have to walk ahead to set up for the baton pass. But it’s a blast, and you can only do it properly with a partner.

And then there’s the race. Simple and short, complex, hilly and long: there’s nothing quite like running a race. As with all things couples running, make sure your partner is ok with a little competition. If they just want to go for a jog and spend time together, don’t push them.

It’s all about figuring out what works for both of you. It’s ok for this to be something you do every so often, instead of running as a couple each time you lace up your shoes.

And if you’re unable to make it work at all, don’t worry. Some people may simply prefer running solo (or not at all), and your compatibility as runners isn’t a magic indicator of your compatibility as partners.

Just enjoy the journey, wherever it takes you. It’s Time To Fly™.