Winter Walking

GoGo from Go, GoGo sent in this question:  How about some practical winter walking advice.  We all know about your weekday treks to and from work, and I personally could use some advice on what keeps you safe and comfortable on your walks.

Good question.  I’ll do it in two parts.  Safe.  And comfortable.

Safety First:  It’s winter.  It’s dark.  People are tired when they get in their cars, both in the morning and the evening.  Oftentimes it’s rainy and that makes it even harder to see and be seen.  As a matter of interest, my supervisor recently lost the sight in one of his eyes due to a tumor.  This causes him to not be able to see past the midline of his face.  So if you are on his right you might as well be invisible.  He is still allowed to drive and has come close a couple of times to hitting pedestrians.  So keep in mind that not everyone who is on the road driving, SHOULD be on the road driving.

I wear a headlamp (I’ve attached it to the front strap of my backpack).  It’s not an expensive light (around $14) and doesn’t do anything for enabling me to see where I’m going, but it does allow drivers to see me.  I wear it on the right hand side and then walk opposing traffic when there is no sidewalk.  Wherever possible, walk toward the traffic.  At least then you will notice any swerving vehicles and you can move over.  I also have a reflective jacket and reflective bits on my shoes. 

Carry your cell phone in case of trouble and make sure that someone knows what your general timing is.  I have to walk through a bit of a sketchy area and while it only takes me about 5 minutes to get through it, it does make me feel a little better knowing that if I don’t show up, there are people who know what route I take and when the general time is that I should be arriving. 

Walk with your head up and look every single person you pass in the eye, to the point of actually turning your head slightly and watching them walk by you.  I went to a self-defence class once and they told us that the bad people will not generally go after someone who looks them in the eye (that is a blanket statement and obviously not true of all situations).  It’s a display of your confidence and your ‘don’t even think it’ attitude.  Look snarly or bitchy if neccessary.  You’ll never see that person again and it’s better to come off as a complete bitch than for someone to think you’re a pushover that won’t fight back. 

OK, now you’re pretty safe.  Let’s get comfortable.

Comfort is key:  If you are miserable the entire time you’re exercising, you’re going to have a harder time convincing yourself to do it tomorrow.

Dress in layers.  I wear a technical (moisture-wicking) long sleeved shirt with just a plain t-shirt overtop.  Then a running style jacket and yoga pants.  Climates vary and you’ll need to find something that works best for you.  What you want to make sure is that you are not overdressing.  You should be exerting yourself and that will raise your body temperature.  I also wear a toque.  My new toque has ear flaps which are a lifesaver when it’s windy.  Your toque will keep in a lot of the body heat you generate (as well as giving you a very bad hairday!) and should enable you to wear a little less clothing further down.

Keep the rain off.  Wear a ball cap under your toque on the really rainy days.  You should be able to pull it down far enough over your eyes that it keeps the rain from blinding you while still allowing you to see.  Bear in mind that if you are wearing a ball cap AND a toque that you will be even warmer.  Get rain pants.  There are the really expensive, technical fabric rain pants that are lightweight and breathable.  If you’re currently losing weight and/or don’t want to spend a fortune, these are not for you.  Go to your local hardware or camping store and pick up a pair of nylon rain pants (don’t buy the PVC/rubber pants because those don’t breathe at ALL).  They shouldn’t be too terribly expensive (around $30) and usually they are lined which allows you to wear them over your yoga pants and stay warm on the cold but not rainy days.  A somewhat more costly item would be the water proof shoes.  I know that not everyone is going to go out and buy $250 shoes but I have to tell you that mine are worth every penny I spent on them.  I wear them in the snow (we don’t get much) because they have good grips and my feet stay completely dry in the torrential rain we have.

Lastly in the comfort section, if you are prone to blisters or you have new shoes that you’re breaking in, you need to be able to walk anyway.  There is a tape that you can get from a first aid supply or your local drugstore if you ask them to order it in.  It’s called Transpore by 3M.  While I was breaking in my shoes I would put a piece of that tape on my heels and because it’s quite slick on the outside, it allows your socks and shoes to move against the tape rather than against your skin causing blisters.  It’s breathable and pretty sticky so you can just leave it on for a couple of days (even through showers).  It was an absolute lifesaver.

So that concludes the first ever edition of Ask Lady Shanny.  Comments will stay open if you have any other tips or suggestions to offer.  Happy walking!

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