Strength training with snow

Does snow shoveling count as strength training?

I’d like to think so.

In the last two days, parts of Western New York have gotten socked with lake effect snow — the karma we get for enjoying abnormally warm days in November which kept our friend, Lake Erie, from freezing. After a somewhat harrowing drive home from covering women’s basketball last night, I arrived to a good foot of snow with the flakes still falling at a heavy clip.

Quickly, I changed into snow-shoveling gear (i.e. a heavy fleece, jacket, fleece sweat pants and boots) and got to work on my front walkway, sidewalk and driveway. If this was cleared now, it wouldn’t be as bad in the morning.

Oh, but overnight another foot and a half of snow had fallen. Out came the shovel and a can-do attitude … until I realized nary a plow had been down my street yet. I could shovel all I wanted. Any attempt to actually drive my car any further than the edge of my driveway would cause problems. Just ask the two people on my street who tried to leave for work this morning only to get stuck in the street.

No, the only thing left to do is wait for Mr. Plow.

Sitting down with my morning coffee brought a laugh at myself.

See, I enjoy snow. I love ice skating and snow shoeing and while I’ve never been skiing, I’m ready to give that a try this winter. I even enjoy running in the snow. There’s something soft and magical about it. Even when it’s nasty with sharp flakes that hit you like darts in a driving wind, it can be entertaining. It becomes a survival workout. And the feeling of toughing out bad conditions (and being a bit crazy) is somehow satisfying when it’s all done and the refueling begins with hot chocolate.

But there there is some anxiety that comes with snow. There are places we “have” to be and things we “must” do. This morning, snow laughed at my winter weather travel anxiety, at my compulsion to get every workout done exactly as prescribed at my desire to follow a planned schedule.

Snow had other plans for me this morning. It kept me home. It gave me time to work on those neglected projects, the ones we all have on our “to-do” and “want-to-do” list but fall into the time-pit abyss. It gave me the joyful prospect of playing in the snow this weekend. And it gave me a strength workout — both physically and mentally.

Snow, it turns out, can be pretty wise if we step away from the anxiety and look at what’s in front of us.

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