Two things I notice as I get older:
First, style gets less important every year. Or, more precisely, the fact that I lack style bothers me less.
Second, it gets harder to whip myself into shape each spring after a fall and winter of lollygagging.
I offered these points recently to explain why I was so excited when an orange and brown fleece-lined cycling jersey arrived in the mail.
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This, I told my wife, meant I would be more likely to exercise on miserably cold, wet days. Perhaps, I said as I slid on the jersey, that will mean I’ll have a little fitness momentum come next spring.
“But it’s pretty ugly,” she said.
As I stepped in front of the mirror, I realized she was right. I looked like a pumpkin. “Well, I think it’s gourd-geous,” I said. She didn’t laugh.
As fall arrives, many of us are in the best shape of the year thanks to summer weather motivating us to get outside and be active. The trick is to keep that momentum going through the months when you’d rather bundle up and watch Netflix.
You don’t necessarily need an ugly orange cycling jersey to make cold weather exercise more comfortable, but there are some tools that will make things a little easier. Here are 10 ideas:
1. A hat: A hat with a bill will do wonders for helping you stay warm and keeping rain out of your eyes.
2. Green Trails map 203S-206S: The trails near Interstate 90 between Issaquah and North Bend are some of the most popular in the state and for good reason. They are easy to get to, some have good views, and they are usually free of snow all year. Find a good uphill stretch to push yourself, a peaceful path to walk or mountain bike trails. Green Trails Maps 203S-206S show the trail systems on Cougar, Tiger and Rattlesnake mountains and Mount Si.
3. Friends: There is no better motivator than a friend who’ll work out with you. A friend who won’t wig out at the first sign of rain is ideal, but odds are it won’t matter which one of you is tougher. Over the course of fall and winter, you’ll both get ample opportunities to be the influencer and the influencee.
4. Strava: If you can’t find a workout partner, you can always download a virtual friend. Strava is an app used by cyclists and runners around the world to record their workouts. The app allows you to compare your times against friends and strangers, discover new routes and earn virtual awards for making progress. You can also meet athletes and potential workout partners. It’s motivating if not addicting. And if it’s not quite your thing, there are numerous other apps and devices out there offering similar motivation.
5. Fenders: Placing fenders on your bike on rainy days can make for a more comfortable ride. As a bonus, your friend riding behind you will be appreciative.
6. Proper socks: Cold, wet days are not the time for cotton socks. Splurge on a pair designed for your sport: socks with padding in the right places, that won’t slip around on your feet, and will wick away moisture and keep your feet warm even when they are wet. Find plenty of options at outdoor stores, and prepare for sticker shock. A pair of Smartwool hiking socks can cost more than $20.
7. Good clothes: Investing in a good rain coat and a few synthetic, moisture-wicking layers can make the difference between misery and comfort.
8. Eye protection: Even when you don’t see the sun for weeks at a time, eye protection is important. A pair of sunglasses (perhaps with lenses adjusted for the season) can keep water and debris out of your eyes, as well as protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays.
9. Lights and reflective gear: Not only is it sometimes harder to see while running, walking or biking on short, overcast days, it’s also harder to be seen. A headlamp, or handlebar and rear lights, and reflective clothes are important for staying safe.
10. A plan: Drafting an off-season exercise plan can help you stay energized to work out. What do you want to accomplish? What hurt over the summer and what might I work on over the winter that could alleviate that problem next year?
When you have a reason to exercise it’s easier to get moving. Even when it’s raining.