December 03, 2020

Winter Walking and Meeting People

Today is Day 137 of my walking streak. Not bad! I've walked five miles day since July 20th. 

Monday and Tuesday were brutal for outdoor walking. On Sunday night, it snowed during the night and by Monday morning, the roads were covered in snow and slush. It was also snowing/raining at the same time. And it was COLD. The picture below looks peaceful. But under the snow was frozen slush, and it started rain/snowing shortly after.

My feet were totally soaked by the time I got home from walking in snow/slush. It also wasn't fun when cars would pass by and throw slush up at me.

On Monday night, all of the slush and rain froze--so it was extremely icy outside yesterday morning. In retrospect, I really shouldn't have even attempted to walk it--I almost fell more than a few times.

After my walk yesterday morning, my calves were super sore from having to change the way I walk. I was basically tip-toeing around the ice the entire time. I just now looked at my Garmin stats, and you can see all the ups and downs in my pace.

So, I looked for some "walking boots" on Amazon--I wasn't even sure if such a thing existed! (By "walking boots" I meant something like "running shoes"--something comfortable to walk longer distances in.)

Since I'd been a runner, I never gave boots a second thought. But if I'm going to walk through the winter conditions, I'm going to need something to keep my feet dry and warm, not to mention comfortable, for a five-mile walk.

I ordered some boots that are supposed to arrive this weekend, so I'll let you know how they work out. I also ordered a pair of pants that are sherpa-lined. They were $30+, which is insane for me! I usually shop at thrift stores, but they have NO STOCK right now. If I like the ones I ordered, I'll probably order another pair (or two) to get me through the winter.

I really didn't want to walk yesterday in the ice, but I don't want to break my walking streak! I could always opt for the treadmill--I just feel bad for Joey, because he looks forward to our walks every day. This is one section of pure ice--I had to tread VERY carefully on the parts that had snow, which gave it a little traction.

I realized recently that walking has taken on a new meaning for me. It's not about the numbers anymore. I used to love looking at my data--my distance, time, pace, heart rate, etc. Now, I don't even look at it anymore. I don't even wear my heart rate monitor! I just save my walk on my Garmin when I'm done and forget about it. 

I have met a lot of people on my walks, and I love that! Because of the lockdown, I don't get much social interaction; seeing the "regulars" on my walks has become fun for me. This morning, there were several stops. First, I ran into my parents as they were driving out of their neighborhood. It turned out they were going to Kohl's to return something to Amazon. I had something that needed returning, too, so I told my mom it was in my car and they stopped to grab it and returned it for me. Awesome!

Shortly after that, I met a woman from Texas who arrived yesterday to visit a friend and she had her dog with her (a pit bull mix, I think). Joey and her dog checked each other out (which means a full three minutes of smelling each others butts and genitals) and the two of us chatted for a few minutes. I didn't pause my Garmin or anything--it's hard to dig through the layers of clothes and I honestly just didn't care what the numbers said.

We kept going, and when we got to Roomba's house (the black German Shepherd), Joey got super excited to see that Roomba was outside. The two have been friends for a couple of months now, so I asked Roomba's "mom" if she could play for a minute. I let Joey off leash and he and Roomba were running all over the place in her yard, having a blast.

I don't remember if I mentioned this, but Roomba's "mom" actually graduated in my high school class! I knew she looked familiar when I first met her and it drove me crazy until I asked her about it the next time I saw her. We were friends with different people, but our class was small, and I definitely remember her. I think she was one of the "popular" kids, and I, well, wasn't ;)  (I loved--and still love!--my small group of friends from high school.)

Anyway, I've talked to her a few times while the dogs played together and it's been so nice getting to talk to another adult! And I love that Joey has a friend to play with. Today, he ran down to the lake and into the water--I don't know how he could stand it, because it's freezing outside.

Then he found one of Roomba's tennis balls and pretty much tore it to shreds. The two dogs were tired out after chasing each other. (Well, Roomba chased Joey--she's so much faster that she literally lapped him while running around the house!)

They played for a good 45 minutes while I talked to Melissa. Then Joey and I headed off to finish our walk.

When I got home, I took off my gloves and pulled up my coat sleeve to stop my Garmin, and I saw that the distance only read 2.77--I'd walked our usual five miles! I have no idea what happened. I must have stopped it at Melissa's (although I don't remember doing so). But somehow, the Garmin still recorded the map of my entire walk? It's so weird. I corrected the time and distance, not that it matters, but I'm very curious how that happened.

I've really loved meeting people when I walk. I'm super shy and I'm terrible at small talk when I'm out and about. But on my walks, it's kind of easy to make conversation--especially if someone has a dog.

Whenever I took my kids to the bus stop in elementary school, we would see a couple of miniature Schnauzers in the yard next to the bus stop. Eventually, we adopted Joey and started bringing him to the bus stop, and he went nuts to see them. Whenever I'd go for a walk with Joey, he'd get excited to walk past their yard.

A few weeks ago, the man who lived there (I'd only ever waved to him when he was in his backyard) was in his driveway and we exchanged greetings as I walked by. Then, I went to Kroger after my walk and a man at Kroger asked me if I had a couple of boys--yes--who used to have a bus stop at such and such street--yes. Then I recognized that he was the owner of the Schnauzers! (Well, I'd only seen one Schnauzer for the past three years or so.) 

I learned his name is CJ and he and his wife live there. One of the Schnauzers had passed away a few years ago (so sad!) but he remembers my boys when they were so young and we waited for the bus. He couldn't believe it when I said that Noah is driving now.

Yesterday, I chatted with a woman who has a few dogs and one of them was outside--a Pekingese. I forget the dog's name, but she was very curious about Joey and I told her "mom" it was fine that they check each other out. Joey usually doesn't even look at the small breed dogs, but he seemed to like her. I chatted with her "mom" while the dogs said hello to each other. 

Anyway, all of this is to say that walking Joey every day has been great for both of us! I have come out of my introverted shell a little to chat with strangers and Joey has gotten to meet and greet several other dogs. I'm so glad that I started walking daily--it's been really good for me, mentally and physically.

Speaking of physically, I need to do an update on all that--intermittent fasting, weight loss/gain, etc. I will try to do that this week. I know it's cliché, but gearing up for the new year always motivates me!


  1. Hi Katie, have you thought of buying crampons for the ice? They’re not cheap, but you can use them with running shoes or boots.

    1. I was going to suggest this too. And tell you, Katie, that your walking streak is very impressive. I'm excited to see how high you get.

  2. You might want to try walking poles for stabilization in the winter. My bro/SIL are hikers and love them. May not work great on concrete tho.

  3. I love that having a dog has helped you come out of your shell! I'm introverted as well, and growing up, my family always had cats. Dogs are super popular in my city (I think they say there are more dogs than babies), and it seems like a great way to meet people at dog parks, on walks, etc.

    I second the commenter who mentioned crampons. I know a lot of people who like using Yaktrax in the snow and ice.

  4. Another suggestion that isn't cheap, but I swear by ice bugs. I fell while I was 6 months pregnant with my first kid and hit my ribs on the bucket of ice melt I was trying to spread. It scared me a lot so I bought ice bug boots. I don't recall the cost but I am sure it was a hefty one. But three years and a couple pregnancies later and I swear by them. They are so comfortable and keep my feet surprisingly warm. When they die I will get another pair no question! Also I am super impressed with your walking. Way to go, five miles a day is huge!

  5. Seconding what Rebecca said -- there are a few types of over the shoe traction. YakTrax aren't very pricey. Microspikes vary in price, and presumably quality, haha.

    I work as a mail carrier, and have 2 or 3 kinds, but it just doesn't snow enough here for me to say what I like.

  6. I have used these for walking on icy sidewalks. They are amazing. They just go over any pair of shoes. The first time I tried them I thought they weren't doing anything, so I took them off to see what the difference was. I instantly fell down. This totally sounds like a commercial, but I promise it isn't. :)

  7. For the snow/sleet/rain walking I use waterproof over-trousers. They make a massive difference. My son is 7 and wearing thermal bottoms under his school trousers, the budget kind they might sell at ski shops, and an extra t shirt to school. It's cold inside his school at the moment as they have all the windows open all the time for better air flow to reduce Covid transmission. I love my walking boots, they are waterproof and are ankle high so support me on rough ground. I used them yesterday on my walk to school to pick up my kids in the rain and part flooded sidewalk (pavement really, I'm British!).
    Great to read about your walking, better kit and layers will really help. You got this!

  8. I was going to suggest yak tracks or crampons, too. I also love seeing the "regulars" when I walk my dog for 3-4 miles in the afternoons since COVID started. My favorite is a man who walks his dog with his very young daughter (she's all of 2). The daughter is always carrying some toy or stuffed animal, so she says hi to my dog and then shows me what she's brought along on her walk for the day. It reminds me of when my girls were that age, she's so adorable.

  9. These walks sound so great! And I love hearing about dogs playing together! Makes my dog mom heart happy! ;) Booo about the cold and slush though! Ugh I'm dreading it. We've been lucky in Wisconsin so far, it always seems to miss us. But I know its coming soon!

  10. You should look into getting YakTraks - they are a rubber web that attach to shoes and they have metal on that help create traction in icy conditions. I have a pair and love them.

  11. Have you ever tried waterproof socks? I have a pair of Sealskinz that I wear when I have to run in the snow and they are awesome! They are a bit expensive but I feel they are worth it. I hate having wet feet when I run.

  12. Congrats on the walking streak! That ice in the 3rd picture would have had me turning back for sure. I landed on my tush more times than I care to remember during my 5 years in Illinois.

    I can picture Joey having fun with Roomba and doing the meet-and-greet with the pibble and the little'n. I'm so glad that you're enjoying your experiences and getting a chance to know your neighbors (that's my favorite part of taking a walk vs. training). Thank you for making me smile this morning. (And the Schnauzer's dad is not the only one who can't believe that Noah is driving already!) :)

  13. Came here to leave the same suggestion everyone else has - YakTrax! They make a world of difference on the ice. They have different models for running/walking/etc. Just make sure you get the size that fits your boot/shoe, rather than your foot so that they're big enough. Also wanted to suggest hiking boots for winter walking! You can find good waterproof boots online (check REI, esp right now they're having a good sale) that are grippy, built for lots of miles, and will keep your feet and ankles dry.


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