Friday, February 12, 2021

It’s (Kind Of) Working

It was a double-dipping effort today: 2 badges for the price of a single, 3-mile walk.

To be precise, the middle of winter was last Wednesday, February 3. If you’re a “glass half full” person you could say that winter is more than halfway done. But in West Bend winter pays no attention to the spring equinox, which this year will occur on Saturday, March 20. No, in West Bend winter might hang on all the way through April. You just never know. And when it comes to our weather, I’m very much a “glass half empty” person. I expect the worst and, for what it’s worth, I’m seldom wrong. So, it’s no surprise to me that here in the reputed latter stages of winter we’ve now had 8 consecutive days with below-zero wind chill and we’re going to have at least 4 more before the big warm-up that gets us close to 20°.

Historically, the average high temperature in West Bend in February is 31° and, as you would expect, the month typically begins below the freezing mark and finishes above it. Right now we’re at the turnaround point … historically. The average high on February 12 is 32°, but on this February 12 we made it only to 9°. It was properly cold despite brilliant sunshine, and with the wind chill the mid-afternoon “feels like” temperature was -8°. Riding my bike was absolutely not an option. I did, however, get some outdoor exercise.

In early December I wrote about the potential of Garmin Connect to encourage me to exercise more during the winter. And it has: by the end of that month I had completed 12 walks for a total of 44 miles. In January I did 11 walks for a total of 50 miles. So far this month I have walked 4 times for a total of 18 miles, including a 3-mile walk today. I would have done a few of those activities even without Garmin Connect, but there’s no doubt that I was driven to do more by the ability to track my efforts and to be rewarded for them with Garmin’s badges and points. Don’t let it trouble you that the badges are just computer icons and the points have no monetary value. The 17 badges and 22 points I have earned since December 1 were mostly rewards for exercising consistently. And that’s really all I have to do at this time of year.

Questing for badges and points encourages me to do a variety of activities. I mean, you can’t earn a walking badge if you do nothing but cycling. Variety is beneficial for any number of reasons—e.g., strengthening muscles that I can’t target effectively on the bike, promoting bone cell growth in ways that zero-impact sports do not, breaking up the monotony of single-sport training, and so on. Perhaps in 2021 I finally will commit to aerobic cross-training throughout the year, not just during the cycling offseason.

I am already thinking about how I might accommodate a two-a-day plan when I start riding outside again. I like the idea of an early morning 5K ruck march and a late afternoon bike ride, at least early in the season when outdoor rides are relatively short. Burning an extra 2,500-3,000 calories per week simply by walking couldn’t be a bad thing. I didn’t gain a single pound in January. That’s unusual and obviously welcome and certainly a product, at least in part, of all that walking. But I’ve been a little piggy this month and will have to make amends before my weigh-in on March 1. Garmin called me outside today with a promise of 2 different badges that I could earn with a single activity, so I bundled up and did just enough to meet its requirement. That’s not really in the spirit of the challenge, but it’s more than I would have done otherwise. Now I have to motivate myself for the remainder of February. Game on, again.

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