Category Archives: Fitness

3 Things I Love About Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Image of a person's legs as they walk on a snowy, icy surface.This post is the final instalment of a four-part series I’ve been slowly working on about walking during each season of the year. Click on the links in this sentence to read about the things I love about spring hikes, summer strolls, and autumn hikes.

Winter is my least favourite season. The  cold temperatures, short days, and frequent snowstorms means I generally spend a lot of time indoors.

I do so much of my exercising outdoors from spring to autumn, so this also means that getting workouts in is trickier at this time of the year than at any other. With that being said, there are still advantages to getting outdoors for a walk in the winter.

The Blissful Solitude

Tree standing in a snowy field. The tree has some snow covering its branches. While I mentioned something pretty similar to this in my post about spring hikes, but it bears repeating again for this season. There are always some people walking around in my area, but you definitely see fewer of them on cold days.

As an introvert, I love this. There’s nothing like going to the park and having it all – or nearly all – to yourself.

The same can be said for walking down a street that is generally quite crowded in warmer weather. Rather than dodging strangers, I can focus on looking at all of the little things I might not have noticed about the architecture of the buildings I pass or the new plants at the park or forest that appeared since my last visit.

The Quiet Consistency

Woman walking down a city street during a blizzardThe months between April and November are filled with changes in the natural world here in southern Ontario. I revel in every change I see as plants sprout leaves, flowers bloom, or the first trees began to change colours for the season.

Winter is a long pause in this cycle every year. It’s just about impossible to look outdoors and immediately know whether we’re in the first week of December or the last week of March.  Every day more or less looks the same during those months unless there’s been an ice storm or snowstorm recently.

There’s something to be said for appreciating that consistency. Spring will arrive eventually. In the meantime, I don’t need to think about whether a plant hanging over the side of the sidewalk is poison ivy or whether I’ve photographed that flower already.

Winter is a time of rest. I’m coming to appreciate that.

The Cold, Crisp Air

Clouds being blown by a breeze. A year or two ago, I noticed that the temperatures were a bit cooler one August morning than they’d been that previous week. I decided to set out for a walk before the true heat of the day set in.

It took less than half a block for my body to become so drenched in perspiration that I headed back home for a cold glass of water. What I wouldn’t have given for a gust of cold, crisp air that day!

As much as I always look forward to spring, there is definitely something to be said for being able to exercise outdoors without getting dehydrated, developing a sunburn, or sweating through my clothes a few short minutes after leaving the house.

If you live in a part of the world that has winter and you spend time outdoors exercising during that season, what do you like most about it?

A Third Update on My Walk to Mordor

Red Mountains that look like Mordor
Photo Credit: Dawn Endico.

Last spring I blogged about my plans to walk to Mordor, and I updated my progress at the end of August when I was a third of the way through with it. Now that I’ve reached the two-thirds mark, I thought it was time for another update!

For anyone who needs a refresher or wasn’t following me six months ago, Walk to Mordor is a free app that lets you chart your miles walked every day and gives you updates on where Frodo and Sam were when they’d travelled the same distance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

I am not being compensated in any way for blogging about this. It’s simply something I thought would be a fun way to track my walking and help me stay active, and I was right about that.

Last summer I was logging 9 to 10 kilometres per day. When the weather is nice here, I take advantage of it! Now that I’m spending less time outdoors due to winter deciding to make an early appearance, I’m getting about 7 or 8 kilometres a day on average instead.

SnowflakeMy dad is still logging his miles walked into this game as well. There’s nothing competitive about how far we walk or anything like that. It’s simply nice to have that companionship.

I’m logged in on that app under my name, Lydia Schoch, if any new readers want to sign up and be friends there.

It’s interesting to read about the various plot twists that happened when Sam and Frodo were on their journey. Sometimes you’ll go 80 kilometres (50 miles) without reaching any new milestones, and then you’ll suddenly have several of them in a row. There have also been certain days when I reached multiple milestones depending on how close they were together and how far I walked that day.

This uneven progress makes it interesting to log my distance every night. Yes, you can guess how far you’ll go, but I find it more entertaining not to look at what’s coming so I can be surprised by the latest plot twist. Honestly, it makes me want to watch the Lord of the Rings movies again after I’ve gained full appreciation for just how far these characters walked! Their feet must have been so sore by the end of it.

Screenshot of progress page on Walk to Mordor app. A chart at the bottom of it shows that Lydia Schoch is two-thirds of the way finished with the game.
My progress so far.

There isn’t much else to say in this update, so I’ll wrap things up here after a few more sentences. This has been a fun experience so far, and I’m looking forward to finishing the last third of it through the winter and early spring.

I will write one more post in this series once I reach the end of the 3109 kilometres (1932 mile) journey that Frodo and Sam took.

Back in August I estimated this would happen in March of 2020. That still seems like a reasonable goal, although we’ll have to see how the next few months go.

Hopefully, I’ll stay healthy through cold and flu season and continue to log the same number of kilometres each day.

What to Do If You Missed a Week of Working Out

Woman bent over at the waist and touching her toes. She's stretching before a run. This post is going to be short and sweet. Not everything I write requires 1000+ words to explain.

I’ve been getting so many ideas for posts from my search term analytics lately, and this week’s topic is one of them.

As always, be sure to follow your family doctor’s advice and your own common sense when beginning or returning to an exercise routine.

What works for me might not be the best choice for everyone.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s talk about what happens when life gets in the way and you take a week off from your usual fitness routine. I know I have trouble getting all of my workouts in when I’m travelling or haven’t been getting as much sleep as usual.

The biggest problem with missing a week of workouts that I’ve noticed is that it disrupts your habits. After I’ve missed seven days of exercise, it begins to feel normal to keep my weights in their usual spot instead of jumping into another strength training session or to skip that walk I used take.

That is, it’s far more a psychological issue than it is a physical one. Your muscles, bones, and heart aren’t going to magically revert to the conditions they were in before you began working out regularly just because you missed a few sessions. But this is the point when it starts to feel easier to keep this new pattern going for weeks two, three, four, and beyond.

So the most important thing to do after skipping a week of workouts in my opinion is to get back into your regular habits.

Person walking down a road. There is a guard rail in the background, but we can't see what's behind it. I’m the sort of person who generally responds best to easing back into a fitness routine after a break. That is, I may start off with a shorter weightlifting session or slower walking pace than I’d normally do for the first few days.

Somehow my brain adapts to my former routines better if I don’t expect A+ work on the first day.

If jumping right into your normal workouts at the same intensity you’d built up to before your break is better motivation for you, great!

The important thing is to start moving again until it once again feels normal to stick to the things you were doing before taking this break.

What other advice would you give to someone who has missed a week of workouts?

An Update on My Walk to Mordor

Do you remember a few months ago when I blogged about my plans to walk to Mordor?

That is, I signed up for an app that lets you track how many miles or kilometres you walk every day and gives you updates about what Frodo and Sam were up to when they’d walked a similar distance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Someone I know also signed up for this app when I blogged about it back in May, so I’ve had a buddy to compare journeys with every time I log in to update my account. That was a nice surprise, and I’m always open to connecting with other people on this journey if anyone else wants to start it.

The cool thing about this challenge is that it almost feels like I’m walking alongside Frodo and the other characters from Lord of the Rings as I log my kilometres walked every day and read about the people they met and the places they visited during their question.

Now that I’m a third of the way through this experience, I thought it was time for an update. 

A Long Journey

Screenshot of the Walk to Mordor App. It shows a green bar filled one third. It also says that there are 38 km to go before I reach the next milestone in Sam and Frodo's journey. What I’m enjoying the most about this walk to Mordor so far is fully realizing just how much walking it required. On average, I log between 9 and 10 kilometres a day. Those numbers are nothing compared to what Frodo and Sam must have done on most days in order to make it to Mordor on time.

It’s one thing to read about characters walking a long distance.

It’s quite another to walk that same distance yourself. Every time I read a new update on their adventures, I wonder how these characters kept going day after day. What I’m doing for the sheer fun of it they did because they really had no other choice. Either Frodo needed to destroy the One Ring at Mordor or see his entire world be destroyed.

To be fair, I have a warm, soft bed to sleep in every night, a sturdy pair of sneakers, plenty of food to keep me going, and no Nazgul hunting me down. So my experiences with this fitness challenge are obviously going to be much easier than the real journey was.

Although I will always be a little jealous of the fact that Frodo and Sam got too eat lembas.

Non-Competitive Exercise

The non-competitive nature of this challenge is something I’m also really liking about it. Other players might make it through all 3109 kilometres (1932 miles) faster or slower than I do. Honestly, this isn’t something I’ve taken the time to google or spend energy thinking about.

There’s nothing wrong with other people competing with each other on distance walked or how long it takes to finish the game, but I’m completely content to keep chugging along at my usual pace. The storyline provides so much fodder for the imagination that I honestly don’t want to rush this experience.

I’m currently estimating that I’ll complete this challenge in March of 2020 if I keep up the same pace. In my first post in this series, my best guess was that I’d be finished by late winter or early spring. It will be interesting to see if that same prediction holds in a few months when I share another update on my progress!

This post is going to be shorter than usual, but I really don’t have much else to report for now. The walk to Mordor is going well and I’m feeling good so far.

Respond

Have you ever taken up a fitness or other challenge based on a book? If so, what was it? This experiment has been well worth my time so far, and I’m definitely interested in trying similar games in the future if anyone has recommendations.

3 Things I Love About Summer Strolls

It’s time for the third instalment in my series about hiking – or, in this case, strolling –  during the various seasons. If you’re a new reader or would like to reread my previous posts, I’ve also written about the things I love about spring and autumn hikes. Eventually, I’ll finish this series off with a post about winter walks.

Why have I switched from talking about hiking to strolling for the summer post?

Well, July and August in Toronto are extremely hot and humid. We’ve had multiple days so far in July where the humidity levels were well above 70% and the high temperature felt like 40 Celcius (104 Fahrenheit) or more.

While some Canadians do go out hiking in that weather, I’m not one of them. Spring and autumn are best for brisk outdoor exercise. Summer is better for swimming during the daytime and walking at a slower pace either before or after the hottest part of the day.

With that being said, there is still plenty to love about walking outside during this time of the year.

The Long, Warm Evenings

Sunset in Toronto generally happens between 5 and 6 pm in the winter. During the summer, sunset is at about 9 pm. When you combine those extra hours of daylight with evening weather that feels like 25 C (77 F) instead of -25 C (-13 F) after the sun goes down, it’s no wonder that summer evenings can be such pleasant times to walk.

I spent much of my childhood in a climate similar to the one that Toronto has that I was about seven years old the first time I realized summer had much more daylight than winter.

It was only after running outside for hours after dinner did I realize that the sun still hadn’t set yet that day. When I asked my mother if the sun was never going to set again, she laughed and explained the summer solstice to me in more detail than I’d known before. Her explanation gave me a sense of wonder about the world that I still feel every summer as an adult.

Winter days are short, cold, and punctuated by many hours of darkness before the sun has any hope of rising again. Summer feels magical in contrast, especially if you’re lucky enough to spend plenty of time outdoors during the evening.

The Friendly Background Noise

Yes, I know I mentioned my love of peace and quiet when I talked about spring hikes earlier this year. The interesting thing about walking during the summer is how noisy it can be!

Our streets come alive after the temperatures drop outdoors. After a long, hot day, many people spill out onto the streets to take their dog for a walk, let their children burn off energy at the park, go shopping, meet up with friends for dinner, or otherwise enjoy the nice weather.

There are countless concerts, festivals, parades, and many other events that can lead to evenings punctuated with the sounds of other people having a wonderful time if you happen to wander into the right neighbourhood at the right time.

As much as I love my quiet time, I’ve also learned to deeply appreciate the distant hum of an excited crowd or the faint vibrations of a band from a street or two away.

Being surrounded by relaxed, happy people is a lovely feeling, and Torontonians tend to be pretty happy in these scenarios.

The Sense of Community

One of the coolest and least intuitive things living in a city as large as Toronto is how often you tend to run into the same people over and over again. You’d think this would be rare given the fact that millions of people live here, but it’s really not!

This is the time of year when I stop to say hello to neighbours or acquaintances on almost every walk I take. Sometimes I’ll need to stop and talk to multiple people on the same stroll.

Since folks are spending more time outdoors being sociable in general, the chances of running into someone you know are higher than they would be in January when people tend to stay home after dark.

My parents did this regularly in the small towns I grew up in. Back then I assumed it was something that only happened in rural areas, but now I’ve learned that it’s part of city life as well. The world is a much smaller place than you’d think!

I’ve come to enjoy seeing how many people I recognize on these strolls. Some neighbours pop up so regularly I can nearly count on saying hello to them several times a week, while others only cross my path occasionally.

What do you like most about summer strolls?

3 Things I Love About Spring Hikes

Signs of spring are popping up everywhere now here in Ontario. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the photos I’ve been sharing there of our first flowers of the year. It’s still a little too muddy and chilly outside to spend much time traipsing around out in nature,  but I’m hoping… Read More

3 Things I Don’t Love About Fitness Culture

A few days ago blogged about the four things I love about fitness culture. Today I’m going to be talking about three things I wish I could change about it. Since it can be difficult to read people’s tones on the Internet, know that I’m bringing up these concerns because I care about this topic… Read More

4 Things I Love About Fitness Culture

With the weather gradually warming up here in Ontario, I’ve been spending more time thinking about fitness and fitness culture. Once the last patches of snow and ice have melted for good, my neighbourhood is going to have even more people going out and about for a jog, walk, bicycle ride, or other forms of… Read More