Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Treadmill or hiking in the woods?

Getting back into the exercise routine always requires a certain amount of determination. Didn't have any problems getting to the gym yesterday, but last night I thought it would be fun (?) to add a morning hike or walk in the neighborhood to the mix, in between treadmill days. Didn't get quite as early a start as I wanted, but in the end I left home around 8am.

Some weeks ago I tried to find a connector between the trail I generally use to hike up the hill, and another trailhead a block away. I followed my instincts, came to a downhill trail that I followed for a long time as it became more and more overgrown and narrow, took me noplace. I retraced my steps, determined to try it from the trailhead next time. Today was that next time. Didn't take long at all to reach an intersection that was clearly signed, pointing to the left. But, the trail continued on up the hill and I have a hard time leaving a trail unexplored, so I followed it up and up until I reached what seemed to be private property. The trail appeared to lead to the driveway of a home not too far across the meadow and I didn't want to go there. The utility right-of-way was there, but again, seemed to be on private property, not far from the house, so I retraced my steps to the intersection.

Didn't get far on the designated trail before I encountered a stream crossing, sans bridge. Not a lot of water, but deep and rough with rocks and big tree roots, and wide. Once past that, I eventually came out on the utility right-of-way road, with good signage for the trail, and followed that back home. My error the first time was that I just didn't follow the road far enough to reach the 'real' trail intersection. That would have required hauling on up a steep section of that gravel road after my first effort led me nowhere, and at the time I wasn't interested. Now, I know.

There are benefits of working at the gym on a treadmill: good regardless of weather, I can set a fast speed and a hilly program that works me rather seriously at a steady pace. That's about it.

Benefits of walking through the woods for 45 minutes, however, are more numerous: there were lots of wild blackberries ripening along the lower parts of the first trail; walking through nature is always more pleasant and more rewarding than walking a treadmill; I always love exploring new paths, following my curiosity, doing something different; I don't have to get in my car and drive anywhere; and not least, walking up that last hill home is much harder, much steeper than anything I would ever select on a treadmill! Being out on a trail also requires that you keep at it at least long enough to get back home. No 'stop' button to hit if I get bored, although I never get bored out in the woods. 45 minutes of good exercise, vs. 30 minutes of forced exercise on a treadmill. Which would you prefer? Seriously? But realistically, they both have their good points and somehow, it's easier to get myself motivated to drive to the gym than it is to get dressed and walk out the door. That's the depression at work, trying (unsuccessfully) to take over.

Not today.

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