jogging in a winter wonderland

It doesn’t snow in Wellington, even during winter, so this is just for effect. It does snow around the hills near the region though. 🙂

WHENEVER I stop running around the block for more than a few days, even forgetting to just trot or skip on the pavement, I feel one of the following : (1) fear, because I’m not burning straightaway the carbohydrates, fats and especially sugars I indiscriminately stuff my mouth with, (2) guilt, because I’m not doing everything I can to keep pistons, indoor plumbing and mind-body interfaces in perfect working condition, an absolute must considering my 1965 vintage, and (3) blahness / lack of energy, because the natural energy boost given by exercise and intense fuel combustion is so absent from my day, and unless I get an unexpected boost of adrenaline, I just end up dropping off to sleep watching the news.

Yesterday I felt all three, but there was no way I could fill my running quota, as in succession icy rain, antarctic winds and prickly hail conspired to make sure the weather didn’t accommodate.

The only thing that could force me, beyond all the snafus and small pleasures intervening, to brave the cold and pain (hailstones actually pelted my wet face cycling home) was an absolute urgency to go out, and wouldn’t you know it, it happened.  It was the due date to pay the TelstraClear phone and internet bill, around 10% extra  would be added to the amount due if I paid even just an hour later, and there would also be hell to pay from esposa hermosa‘s wrath, who had only reminded me around two dozen times to take care of such, so that was enough for me to forget all my sensory complaints and literally run all the way to the mall, in the process filling up 15 out of the 20 minutes minimum daily run.

Having finished telling you about my daily dose of rejuvenating exercise, I want to tell you the peripherals or what makes running in this neck of the woods a bit quaint especially at this time of the year.  For this week for starters, the average temperature of Wellington is 10 degrees Celsius.  I strongly suspect that even this depressing mark of the mercury is taken between noon and three pee em, the only hours when the sun is actually out for an appreciable length of time.

As I related earlier, the freezer-like atmosphere is pulled down a bit further (if you can believe that) by wind chill factor, rain and hailstones, which happen to take place more often at this time of the year.  Most seasoned runners will tell you that feeling the winter cold at its worst is only for the first few minutes, as your body adjusts, the muscles harden themselves accordingly and the rest of your body protects itself by warming up with the help of hormones, adrenaline and other body chemicals.  You could give me every assurance from a dozen sports science articles, it’s still goose-bump chilly that I feel throughout my (involuntary) run, I only lose the shivers when I’m almost back home.

It’s also significant that for the last few weeks since winter crept around the alley, I don’t recall sweating a single bead of sweat regardless of the intensity or length of the run.

I shouldn’t complain too much though.  Little kids in P.E. classes run much earlier than I do, when the brutal cold is a couple of degrees more so; grandpas and grandmas actually run past me in matching track suits, on what I assume are longer runs and more challenging routes; and I actually saw a Kiwi mom (1) push her infant in a carrier, (2) walk the dog on an extended leash, and (3) complement all these with a quality run with the help of a multi-lap stopwatch.  Compared to all these sights, my own running regimen seems positively marshmallowy.

You may ask, in the face of all my moaning and groaning, whingeing and whining about physical exertion against the elements, why I don’t just call it a day when it gets too frigid, or at the very least resort to a treadmill or even pay a small fee at the gym and try Zumba as a milder aerobics approach ?

There are three reasons for this, and first is that there may be more barat (miserly)Pinoys or more exercise-stubborn fortysomethings, but none who are both more barat and stubborn than Your Loyal Blogger, and the second is that I still cling to the unproven belief that exercise produces more antibody resistance to viruses, hardens bones, generates more muscle cells and white blood cells for injury response and fatigue recovery, and the wild hope that continued, consistent and regular swinging of arms and stretching of limbs provides you more armor against the viciousness of cancer, the fog of dementia and the inevitability of lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes and arthritis.

It sometimes feels like a losing battle against the nightmare of your body cells eating themselves alive, your muscles atrophying or forgetfulness setting in like concrete, but somehow Running, small measured steps that they are, are the reassuring first steps in the journey of your healthy destiny.  That alone is enough for me to soldier on towards the grim end.

I almost forgot the third reason why I insist on jogging in a winter wonderland.  It’s also because cold as it is on these early winter days, it’s going to get much, much colder before the spring thaw.  Best that I get going now before it gets worse.

Thanks for reading !


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