I'm relaxing after a long, warm snow shoe hike!
Imagine if you will: It's 5:30 a.m. on a dark and stormy day. You cheerfully leap from your warm bed eager to lace up your shoes and head out the door for your brisk walk or run, despite the snow, ice, rain, and brutal wind. Or not.
For most of us, talking ourselves into exercising is a chore, and trading sleep for working out in miserable weather is enough to keep us in bed dreaming of hot chocolate and tropical vacations. Here are some fun, wacky ideas for safe and warm outdoor exercise this winter.
First and foremost, invest in some good cold-weather running clothes you can layer, especially the nifty tech fabric that whisks away moisture while keeping you warm, like Dri-Fit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. It’s more than worth it and you probably know that, so let’s move on to the fun stuff:
Stop the slip-sliding, screw your shoes! Twisted ankles and bruised knees can really ruin your running career. Here’s a good trick: Take the liners of your shoes out, and drill holes right through the bottom of the shoe. Now, insert screws through the shoes from the outside of the shoe back in, so the flat part of the screw hits the ground to keep you from slipping on ice and snow. Then put the liners back in your shoe. Most shoes will be fine with a 1/2” sheet metal screw, they won’t poke through your liner, but here are some easy instructions via SkyRunner.com.
Carry a hot potato! Okay, I just made this up, but I think it’s clever! Find two small potatoes that you can wrap your hand around comfortably (little new potatoes are great). Poke holes in them so they won’t explode, then microwave until steamy. Consider nuking them the night before so they're soft, and just heat them up in the morning. Carry one in each (gloved or mittened) hand. Bonus: you can use them as a weapon against muggers, cougars, or bad dogs.
Duct tape hand warmers to the top of your shoes: I hate cold feet! Frostbite can be a real issue, so protect your toes. When I saw this idea over at Running Brooke’s blog I thought wow, now that’s a good idea. Some people slip the hand wamers into their shoes or socks, but that feels uncomfortable to me and makes it hard to tie my shoes.
No more Rudolf nose -- grease up with Vaseline! Seriously, try it. Vaseline may seem old fashioned, but it’s cheap and easy (uh, you know what I mean!), and if you rub some on your cheekbones, nose, and lips, it will protect you from ugly chapping. They’ll thank you later. So will the mirror, and your modeling agent (sure, Vogue could airbrush the red out, but why chance it before a photo shoot?)
Shower or jumping jacks? If you start warm, you’ll stay warm. Some people soak their hands and feet in hot water to get the blood flowing before a cold run, but that sounds like taking a bath to me, which makes me sleepy. A quick, hot shower is a good thing on a cold morning, and worth getting out of bed for. Or, you can do jumping jacks. One minute should do the trick.
Warning: I avoid early morning jumping jacks because I find they tend to get sleepy dogs all riled up, who then wake up everyone in the house, or worse, they’ll beg to run with you and bark loudly if you don't take them.
Pierre the Puppy Pretends to Like Snow
Now some dogs are made for winter running and should be taken out, but fussy little Papillons (like Pierre, pictured here) pretend they like snow for a while, until their feet start hurting from the cold, and then they must be carried. Try not to wake them up at 5:30 a.m. It’s just not worth it.
Be an all-weather athlete if you can. Get up and go outside, it's worth the trouble. You'll feel better afterward, you know you will. And you may even get to relax in a recliner at the top of a mountain snow-shoe hike, if you're lucky. Plus, you can have hot chocolate afterward without the guilt.
Photos via FlowerArtGirl/Flickr