I can hear the wind outside and the rain hitting the tin roof of the porch. I check the weather three times to see if there is a better window for getting outside, an hour of the day when water will not be splattering in my face as I walk. Little icons show that rain will be falling across all the daylight hours and actually it is warmer outside right now than it will be this afternoon. The temperatures are dropping and soon the rain will turn to sleet.
It's now or never.
I pull on fleece leggings and zip up my Gore-tex rain slicker. I lace up my boots, take a deep breath, and step out into the weather. The first 10 minutes are brutal. The wind is slicing through any opening it can find in my clothes, sending chills deep. I wish for my warm bed or a seat by a fire and a cup of tea.
But 20 minutes down the road, I am almost warm and the air is starting to fill my lungs instead of making me gasp. I forget about the rain and begin to notice afresh small details in the world around me: the frozen water beads that cling to the leafless branches and the glistening stones of the rock walls that line the path.
And once again I remember this truth:
Thriving through the winter months involves getting outside regardless of the weather.
For me, having an event on the calendar to train for is the only way to be motivated to continually take those first steps out into the cold.
Last year I began a romance with long-distance walking that led me on a 60-mile trail through the English and Scottish Borders called St. Cuthbert's Way. Walking St. Cuthbert's Way was a surprising journey of both falling in love with walking and realizing how grossly unprepared I was for any stretch over ten miles long.
After St. Cuthbert's Way in May, I was determined to train my body to handle a 20-mile walking day, and in September I huffed and puffed all the way across England in the footsteps of a great English hillwalker, Alfred Wainwright.
Both of these walks stretched me physically and mentally and I struggled to finish them, but along the way, I fell head over the heels of my hiking boots in love with long-distance walking.
To show up to a new village every evening and fall asleep in a country inn after a full day of walking is positively delightful.
I am smitten with the slow travel of taking a walk. I like the pace of the world going by only as quickly as I can put one foot in front of the other.
And so I have booked more walks this year. In May I will walk through one of the great Scotch Whisky regions of Scotland, The Speyside Way.
Now I know from experience that I want to show up ready to log the miles, so as soon as I penciled in the walk on the calendar, I started calculating the weeks I have to prepare.
On mornings when the temperature looks daunting or the rain is falling and I would rather stay in bed, I remember my upcoming walk. The image of myself slowly struggling up the hills instead of delighting in every step drags me into my boots and my coat once again.
I get outside because I want to be ready to enjoy walking in May, but then I am almost daily surprised by how much I actually enjoy walking in winter.
Follow along with me on my walks via Instagram.