Keeping a steady workout routine in the winter is tough, especially for those of you that, like me, have a special sort of hatred for the treadmill. Lots of winter days tend to feel like some sort of Sophie’s Choice: brave the dark and cold to run outside, or suffer through a run to nowhere in a stuffy gym?
Here’s a little secret: if you don’t have any big races coming up soon, winter is the perfect time to skip the runs and do something fun instead. As an example, last weekend my husband and I went snowshoeing for the first time. Much like hiking, it’ll give you a great workout (and develop those hill-climbing muscles!), and unlike spending those 2 hours on a treadmill, it was a great time. As an added bonus, my husband, who is not a runner at all, was able to join me. Playing in the snow, working up a sweat and spending time with him? It was a win-win situation all over.
Not only is the scenery absolutely beautiful (especially if you have access to mountain trails like we do), but you get to see your favorite hiking trails in a whole new light. For example, the trail we were on is covered with blackberry bushes in the summer months and completely impassable.
Personally, I was in heaven. I absolutely love the snow and love being in it (hence my repeated attempts to ski, despite the fact that it scares the crap out of me). The fact that we apparently picked the best weekend all winter to go (there was about 2 feet of fresh powder on the ground) was just an added bonus. At one point, we got to a spot on the trail where you can climb up the side of the mountain to check out a small waterfall at the top. The ladies we were with (who also lent us the gear – thank you!) decided to blaze a trail up towards that waterfall. Feeling up for some adventure, I decided to follow them.
We didn’t quite make it all the way. Once we got about 2/3 of the way up, the snow was just too deep to make any more forward progress. However, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a worthwhile trip: the view from up there was absolutely fabulous. I could have sat up there for hours just taking it in, if it wasn’t for the fact that my butt was in the snow and slowly getting incredibly cold.
Of course, once we were up there, we had to get back down. The thing you don’t realize when you sit down in two feet of snow is that you eventually have to stand back up… surrounded by 2 feet of snow. I had absolutely nothing solid to push down on! I just couldn’t get my feet under my body enough to get upright. I even tried using my poles, but they were useless without anything solid to push against. I finally realized that there was only once choice: slide down on my butt.
This was, no lie, the best part of the entire day. We hiked a bit further into the woods after this, but I could have gone home perfectly happy at this point. I was outside, I was playing in the snow… it was just like being a kid again.
The best part about snowshoeing is that, unlike skiing, it requires absolutely no special skills. Most nordic centers will rent out the equipment you need and once you have it? It’s just like hiking: put one foot in front of the other, enjoy the scenery, lather, rinse, repeat. You can see more photos from the trip over on Facebook.
Sure as heck beats the pants off the treadmill.