Keeping Active When Wintering in the Countryside

While this site is based on my love, running outdoors, sometimes your situation doesn’t permit you to do that. Each year I spend a few weeks at a family cabin out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. When the snow rolls in, long distance runs are all but impossible due to the lack of clean trails.

While the main reason for why I spend time there is to relax and get away from the day-to-day grind of modern life, I don’t want to let my fitness fall off. Since I can’t run, or run long distances, I need to find other activities.

Even in the cold, I still prefer working out outdoors. I try to always run outdoors, and avoid gyms when possible. I do the same in the harsh Wyoming winters.

Before I do anything, I make sure to dress appropriately. It’s not a little cold outside when I usually spend time in our cabin, it’s FREEZING. I always have thermals, proper winter socks, boots, gloves, a hat, and plenty of layers.

Once I am ready to take on the cold, wind, and snow, I make sure I have a drink of tea or water, as I’ll want to stay hydrated. It’s still possible to get dehydrated when it’s cold outside. Then, it’s off to the great snowy outdoors.

Once outside there’s not a whole lot I can do to get my heart rate up to where I want it. I sometimes like to take a short hike, as the wind and snow offer enough resistance to get my blood pumping.

Another activity I enjoy also happens be an essential one for staying warm when inside, which is splitting firewood. While many people think it’s a task suitable only for lumberjacks, I actually find it exhilarating.

The trick to getting a great blood-pumping workout by turning logs into firewood is to skip the chainsaw. You will need three things:

  • Logs for splitting
  • A log or small splitting table or cradle
  • A splitting axe or maul

The logs are of course a major necessity, as you need something to split. The log or table give you a raised flat surface to work with. And, you need your axe or you have nothing to work with.

My axe of choice is actually a rather hefty Granfors Bruks splitting maul. It’s a little more expensive than most other mauls, but it’s been in the family for years, so it’s paid itself off time and time again.

I also like the extra weight that a maul gives as it makes the splitting easier and it adds a little more resistance for my workout. That being said, use a tool with a weight that works best for your level of fitness and strength.

Lastly, another way to get a bit of a workout is moving around the firewood you just made. If you have a woodshed, you have to transport it all to the shed. If you don’t have a shed and instead keep it in front of or behind your cabin, you have to move it there. Either way, carrying all that wood in cold temperatures in the snow will get you breathing hard.

So, even when you can’t run due to cold and snow, there’s always something you can do to keep fit!

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