It’s 4:30am and 26 degrees outside. I’m standing in my kitchen as I write this. What I’m wearing consists of heat gear leggings under my snow shoveling pants, two layers of long sleeved heat gear shirts, a Northface running vest, and scattered around me is the remainder of my outfit – my neck warmer, a winter hat, mittens, my Team Owen winter running hoodie, wool socks and winter boots.
My house is warm and cozy, my family is fast asleep, my cats are begging to be fed, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my oatmeal and coffee. I’m also starting to heat up just a bit too much 😉
In about 20 minutes I’ll be heading out to Pope’s Island for a row with the crazy-early-crew at Whaling City Rowing. We usually row around the harbor and down to the Palmer Island Lighthouse. The darkness of the morning is sprinkled with the lights of the working harbor as the fishing boats come to life. Oftentimes we’ll see a seal bopping around and one time we even saw what looked like dolphins – but apparently it was a species of tiny whales jumping around… Still super incredible.
Winter rowing (it’s technically not even winter yet) is its own kind of incredible. Before you think I’m totally bananas, know this – I actually don’t like the cold. I’m not the type to cold plunge and I don’t even like drinking cold water. But there’s something special about being outside in the crisp winter air while breaking a sweat. I confess, I also enjoy shoveling and winter is my favorite season for running. As the saying goes, there’s no bad weather for running, there’s just bad gear…
Over the years I have gotten pretty good at gauging how many layers I’ll need depending on the weather. Rowing will always require more layers, really warm socks, winter boots, and good gloves/mittens. For running, I sweat way more, so there definitely has to be a wicking bottom layer, but the rest is pretty minimal. Warm pants, socks, mittens, neckwarmer, winter hat, and my trusty Northface vest. Once you get moving, you heat up fast! As long as you keep moving, you won’t freeze 🙂
One of the best things about heading out in the wee hours of the cold months is how it helps my mental health. The Winter blues are triggered by the darkness and the cold, so my strategy is to associate happiness with both. Also, when I row and run in the morning, I do it with friends. That simple social interaction can be a huge game changer for my mood the rest of the day.
Of course we all know that exercise is vital for metal health. But another thing that most people don’t know is that being outside while the sun is rising makes a huge impact on physical and mental well being. So if you can get yourself outside, exercising, and watch the sunrise, it’s a triple whammy for your health. Add social interaction and you’ve got yourself a great cocktail to help curb the winter blues.
Here’s to staying healthy and happy this upcoming winter.