Winter officially begins next week. And for many of us in the continental United States, the weather experts are predicting another harsh one. With the cold temperatures expected, my biggest concern is being cooped up inside all winter. So I brainstormed some ideas for outdoor activities that I can do no matter how cold it gets.
LAYER UP, GO ON A HIKE
As a kid in upstate New York, my family did frequent winter hikes. Sometimes we would stay local and visit nearby nature preserves. Other times we would spend all day in the Adirondack Mountains, hiking the trails of Buck Mountain or Prospect and looking down on the the frozen waters of Lake George a few thousand feet below. At first, the frigid air was painfully cold in the lungs, every breath the equivalent of ice cream brain freeze, only in the chest.
But if you're keeping a good walking pace uphill, after a while the body's core temperature rises plenty to keep you warm. If you're working hard enough, you'll even start to sweat no matter how cold the ambient temperature. To effectively deal with the elements and body temp fluctuations, I recommend layering with light weight articles of clothing that can easily be removed and put back on. On really cold days, an inner layer of Under Armour Amplify Thermal is a game changer.
FIND A HEATED DRIVING RANGE
When I was in high school, I was crazy about golf so the long winters nearly drove me insane. I would practice putting on my bedroom carpet daily. My life changed when they finally built an indoor driving range where I could get some full swings in mid-February. Nowadays, with Top Golf and other great heated venues popping up in many cities, the cold shouldn't stop you and your friends from a friendly wager on the range.
WINTERIZE YOUR RUNNING OR BIKING GEAR
Snow and ice seem like a perfectly good excuse for not going for a run or a bike ride. But with the right gear, you can still train for those two legs of next year's Ironman all winter long. Like hiking, endurance activities like a long run or ride in winter are a matter of proper layering. If nothing else, you want a good pair of lightweight gloves that are easy to slip on and off. A neck warmer and ear warmers are my preferred head covering. Balaclavas are super warm, but less layerable being one piece. When jogging in slick ground conditions, I sometimes use trail runners. If I'm using my normal minimalist running shoes, I double up on socks anytime the temperature dips below about thirty-five degrees. Lastly, though I haven't tried it yet, I just saw a mountain bike fitted with four inch tires for snow riding that I'm dying to try out.
BUILD A FIRE PIT
There's something primordially satisfying about guys standing around a fire. Whether you're unwinding with a brewski or roasting marshmallows with the family, the dancing flames are even more riveting when it's dark and cold outside. Amazon has plenty of great backyard fire pits around $100 that will get you through the winter.
TAKE THE KIDS SLEDDING
In upstate New York, we used to get "lake effect" snow. Arctic air comes down through Canada and picks up moisture from the Great Lakes. That usually meets the warmer air from the eastern seaboard right over Rochester or Syracuse. Occasionally, the lake effect came as far east as Albany, making for some very unhappy Albanians. But when we got snowed in, my dad became a champ on the sledding hill. With child-like enthusiasm, he would ride down the hill with us time and again, never tiring of having to pull us back up in the sled. His personal favorite was the four person tobaggon. Even if you don't expect a blizzard, sleds are great to have just in case. And they make great Christmas gifts, and Amazon even offers a two-pack of Lucky Bums tobaggon sleds.
So don't be deterred by the cold of winter this year. The Farmer's Almanac may be all doom and gloom, but if you try each of these recommendations, you'll wish winter was three months longer. Well, maybe not quite.