Last fall, I was in quite a quandary of how I was going to maintain my exercise routine over the winter. As I have said before, I do not like exercising in the cold since in even mid-40s weather, my eyes water and my nose runs—almost as if I am allergic to the cold. And so, for many years I have enjoyed exercising indoors at a gym over the cold winter months. But that obviously changed last year with the beginning of the pandemic.
Prior to that, I was having a fairly rigorous exercise routine of either running, biking, or lifting weights Monday through Friday mornings. My preferred time to exercise has always been and still is early in the morning about an hour after I have woken up and stretched sufficiently. This exercise time worked out well for me while I was still employed full-time but even after retiring several years ago, I kept up this morning schedule out of habit (although I no longer had to get to the gym by 6:00 AM).
But with colder weather and my aversion to exercising in the cold, my morning routines ended. Each morning I got up rather than heading out for some exercise, I would check the hourly temperature forecast on my phone to see if the afternoon highs would be warm enough for me. If not, I would then check the daily forecasts to see what day I could exercise. And warm enough for me was 65°F for biking and 50°F for running, each determined empirically.
As the warm temperatures waned and no longer hit the mid-60s, my biking came to an end with my last outing on November 19th.
Fortunately, the winter weather in Memphis is usually not too harsh and so for almost the entire months of November and December, I was able to get out and run at least twice a week. Looking back, January 1st was a real treat as it was warm enough for me to go out and run at 7:30 in the morning. And for the rest of January, I was able to keep up this twice a week pace except for one single week. How do you ask I know this months later? Well, it was all nicely chronicled on my Fitbit with the date, the exercise start time, the total number of steps, and the total exercise time.
By the time Ground Hog Day rolled around, I had high hopes of winter ending early and spring being just around the corner. But just as Punxsutawney Phil predicted, just nine days later Memphis was hit with one of its biggest winter storms in over a decade.
For nine days, the high temperature never got above freezing and the lows were in the teens or single digits. Three different snowfalls over four days dropped almost 8 inches of snow at our house and not only froze the surface of our pool but the lake in our subdivision as well (that’s my 8-inch ruler barely visible on the tabletop).
Now, not only was the temperature way too low to exercise outdoors, but the streets were treacherous as well.
As a last resort, I decided to run indoors—in my house. Fortunately, having enough room in a 3600 square foot house, I could don my running shorts and shoes and jog around the house. I did this twice before the weather turned warm enough to run outside again.
By mid-March, highs were starting to regularly be in the 60s and so rather than figuring out which day it would be warm enough to run, I could choose from several days.
And my first day to bike again was on March 10th, almost four months since I had last biked, tempered only by my biking legs and bottom sorely showing their lack of exercise even after just a short but vigorous six-mile jaunt.
While I knew I would not be returning to the gym before I was vaccinated, at least with the spring weather, I would be able to routinely enjoy at least two of my three regular exercise activities.
So, thankfully I made it through the winter months without giving up my exercise. Getting out at least once a week and sometimes twice, I was even able to keep my running legs up and avoid that painful lactic acid burn that occurs when I haven’t run in at least two weeks. Although I did gain a few pounds over the winter months since I couldn’t exercise my normal five days a week, hopefully with warmer weather and more outdoor activities, my increased workout regimen will help me shed that unwanted weight.
So, here’s to more exercise rewards!