Don’t let the cold weather keep you inside

Friday, October 24, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:15 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

As the air becomes crisp and multihued leaves tumble to the ground, the annual exodus of outside exercisers begins, filling gyms to the brim and leaving the streets and trails longing for the bustle of springtime.

The usual tips for winter exercise are to flock indoors, but there is enjoyment in trooping through cold conditions. My fondest running memories are of frolicking through a fresh blanket of snow, creating the first footprints into my imaginary wilderness. 

I talked with three Columbia residents who enjoy the chilled air and one personal trainer to get tips on outdoor adventures. So as the gauge on the thermometer drops, follow these people’s lead and be your own explorer of the winter wilderness.

In his prime, Rob Spier walked 100 miles in the National 100-mile Championships held in Columbia. Now, at age 81, the retired MU professor still walks three to five miles a day to grab groceries or deposit money, and he doesn’t stop during the winter months.

Instead of getting into his car, he’ll get into his sweatpants and head out the door in any weather. Minus 13 degrees? No problem. Snow piling up? It’ll just be more of a workout. Spier has no excuses. “I’ve never seen weather here so cold I couldn’t walk in it,” Spier says.

If 13 degrees below sounds a bit much, try to exercise at midday, says Cesar Mello, certified personal trainer at Wilson’s Total Fitness Center. This will take advantage of the warmest part of the day.

In between courtroom appearances and preparation for upcoming trials,

Kevin Crane continues to squeeze in his noontime jaunt through downtown. The Boone County prosecuting attorney and his running buddies trudged through snowy conditions and single-digit temperatures last winter, and this winter won’t be any different, he says.

“It’s amazing how rapidly you warm up within a short time into a run on a cold but calm day,” Crane says.

If the roads stay icy for an extended period of time, keeping Crane indoors, he will drag himself onto a treadmill to get his heart rate up.

But as long as the ice stays at bay, you will never find Crane guilty of neglecting his exercise.

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Sarah Ashman’s biking pursuits won’t allow her to trudge through the snow, but the cold is no deterrent. Hurtling through Columbia’s corridors in 30-degree weather at speeds nearing 20 mph on her bike, she creates a wind chill factor of 4 degrees.

Her hands, feet and face can get really numb really fast, but Ashman has the solution.“

There’s no such thing as bad weather,” Ashman says, “just bad clothing.” Ashman dons wind-repellant tights, gloves and a jacket to get her through her daily rides.

Mello says the obvious tip is a good one: “Bundle up.”

But he also adds that new fabrics at bike shops and running stores provide better protection than regular cotton T-shirts. 

Even with her winter-weather ward-

robe, Ashman admits she is not as persistent as some other bicyclists: “I won’t go out if the weather is below 20 degrees.” What a wimp.

Mello himself does not enjoy the cold. He grew up in warm Brazil. But he still finds reasons to go outside.

“I’ll run on the MKT trail in the winter and sightsee,” Mello says. “Sometimes I’ll see deer, sometimes not — but you feel like a trooper either way.”

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