Fitness on the Go – Arctic Style

Today’s Location: Barrow, Alaska
Temperature: 10F, 23mph W = -9 with windchill
Sunrise/Sunset: 10:54am/3:26pm (4:31 of daylight today!)
Listening to: Workout Radio on Pandora – post-workout in itinerate housing 
Success of the Day: Finding a cool geocache with my co-workers

photoAs my recent post revealed, I get to venture up to Barrow every few months for work. My stays here used to be short, 2-3 days, but now they are 5-7. When you have a 6 day a week fitness routine, it becomes hard to figure out how to manage that when you are traveling, especially during the Alaskan winter months. I seem to have discovered that more than ever on this trip up North, and I am vowing to make a “Fitness Plan B” for myself.

First I’ll share a little about my adventures trying to stay fit in Barrow. I really hate treadmills, and recently had turned away from the traditional gyms (not that there really is one up here).  But there is a recreational center that, tucked away in the corner of the basketball court, has a small weight area, two treadmills, an elliptical, and stairclimber. So, basically when you get there, you should hope that no one is on the equipment you want to use. There is also a rock climbing wall that you can use, if one of the employees who is belay certified is there to assist you. It’s worth mentioning that the high school has a pool and gym that is open to the public, but you have to check the times for public use.

I’ve used the rec. center a few times here, but you have to take a taxi over, pay to use the facility and take a taxi back. It all seems pretty time consuming to me, since I really love being able to throw my shoes on and go run as soon as a step outside the door. After a beautiful summer in Fairbanks, it’s also something I’ve gotten used to. Personally, I love running outside wherever I go on my travels. Rain, snow, or shine. Well in the instance of Barrow, its wind. Ooooh the wind. It really can cut right through you. Now I have fond memories of running along the oceanside in Barrow in the early morning during the summer, with the sun shining bright and a rainbow ahead. That view is forever imbedded in my mind. But this week, it has been hit or miss with how enjoyable my runs might be.

Now mind you, no matter what time of year I’ve gone running here, I’ve had some fear in me that I might get hit by someone driving. I always take extra precaution – pedestrians only sort of have the right of way here. I’ve only seen the high school kids out as a group running once – so I’ve always assumed that I might be viewed as a strange specimen to be out running, on my own, and voluntarily. Knowing I’d be running with no sunlight this trip, I came with reflective gear and a headlamp. Tuesday morning I headed out early, and the wind was cutting through me, but I kept on. Most of Barrow is well lit with street lights, so when I realized I forgot my headlamp, I wasn’t too concerned. I was concerned with the route I took, passing between two lagoons that I realized half way through had quite the snow drift across them and there was a decreasing space for cars to pass. Unfortunately, this was an out-and-back, so I’d had to turn around and come back this way at some point. I made it back safely by stopping to allow people to pass, which only made me colder in the wind. I vowed not to run this way again on the trip!

Wednesday, yesterday, I headed out a different route, towards the hospital and looping in and out of streets. If it were windy, I might have some protection via the homes. I remembered my headlamp (yay!) and it seemed to deter people from driving so close to me. Headlamps are my new best friend! My other new best friend? Ice, I feel like Superman running with these on my shoes! People were headed to work, buses were picking up children, and the stars were out in the sky, which by the end of my run was a deep, cloudy blue. It turned out to be 10 degrees with no wind, it was a great run!

This morning however, it was bone-chilling cold and windy again. Hovering 0 and 30mph winds make for a nasty negative temp with wind chill. I just couldn’t motivate myself to do it. This is where the difficulty comes in. When you want to be out running, but fear being blown into a lagoon or buried in a snow drift, what do you do? This afternoon I realized my not-in-my-fitness-routine crabbiness was creeping in. I miss my longer runs and running group, I miss my circuit training, heck I miss my own bed and Americanos at this point!

I am hoping tomorrow will not be windy and by some magic, I’ll wake up early to go run and be greeted by the northern lights that I just barely missed last night (thus is my life, missing the northern lights ALL the time). But, you have to find ways to stay fit, anywhere, anytime with one simple routine. This is my new goal – to find this routine. Tonight I searched around, knowing I needed something to get my HR up a little, and did this:

50 reps of each (you could also do 5×10 if you like multiple vs one set of each)

  • Jumping Jacks (if you do 5×10, do 50 of these first and skip during the rest of 5×10)
  • Body-weight Air Squats
  • Push Ups (modified if needed)
  • Sit Ups
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Walking Lunges
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Reclined Hip Extension (double or single leg)
  • Burpees
  • Prone Back Extensions aka “Superman”

The reality is, this is barely what my warm-up is for my regular workouts at Elite Urban Fitness. BUT it is something! Because you have to keep moving! Always always do something over nothing. Today, I had to remind myself of that. So, to the few readers I have out there, send you ideas my way, or at the least I hope I’ve encouraged you to keep moving, no matter where you are!



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