It's been a while since I walked even 10,000 steps, but tonight, I decided to try my old fourteen-staircase routine along the creekside. I wanted to find out several things: (1) was I still even able to do the walk after having de-trained over nearly two months? (2) could I do the walk comfortably while bundled up in winter gear? (3) to what extent would sweat be an issue?* (4) would such a walk be feasible throughout the winter? I have clear answers to some of these questions, but only partial answers to others.
(1) I've still got it. Despite almost two months away from serious exercise, I have not de-trained to the point where I might become breathless, dizzy, and unable to complete my route. That's a relief. And a sign that I need to maintain a certain aerobic level and not allow myself to backslide like this again.
(2) Yes, I can complete the route even when bundled up. As I was putting on my winter gear while in my office, I had to chuckle: gearing up proved to be such a multi-step process that it felt as if I were an astronaut prepping for EVA. On went the windbreaker, followed by my scarf, which I tied in ritual fashion; then came the knitted hat (my coworker, a Floridian, calls this a "skully"), then my Bane-style mask (thanks, Tom), then my heavy winter coat (thanks, Mike), and finally my gloves. Looking a bit like the overdressed kid brother in "A Christmas Story," I headed out into the 23ºF (-5ºC) cold.**
(3) Sweat was a relatively minor issue, luckily. I did sweat a ton, but my knit cap caught much of the perspiration the way a 1980s-era sweatband might, and I used my handkerchief to mop up the remaining runoff, which tended to collect rather annoyingly on my eyebrows. With my face behind a mask, my nose, cheeks, and philtrum got sweaty, so I ripped my mask down a couple times while I walked, unable to settle upon a default setting for my face. This wasn't a huge problem, though; it did nothing to change the rate at which I trudged along.
(4) As for the feasibility of walking this route throughout the winter, I suppose a lot depends on how snowy and icy things get. I've got those non-slip attachments that I can slap on my shoes when necessary, so iciness isn't an obstacle. If, however, the snow gets deep, then there could be thermal complications: snow that gets stuck to my pants, or that gets under the pants and around my ankles, might melt and cause my extremities to freeze. In such a case, it might be better to just walk up my building's staircase a couple times and call it a day.
Now that I know I can indeed walk in the cold, I'm going to restart my walking routine. My heart and lungs will be very thankful, I'm sure. In the meantime, it was good to find out that I was still capable of walking 20,425 steps.
*I'd faced this issue back when I used to hike Namsan. The fact is that I sweat so much, even in sub-zero temps, that I'll sweat through both my inner windbreaker and my outer coat. The sweat appears on my shoulders, where most of my enthusiastic sweat glands apparently reside. Very embarrassing.
**My cell phone's Weather.com app told me that it was 23 degrees Fahrenheit tonight, but that it felt like 14 degrees (-10ºC).