PUMPING IRONY: The Little Engine That Could

That nasty northwest wind I mentioned yesterday was out in force this morning, knifing through my corduroys like a hundred icy daggers. Of course, like a good Minnesotan, I just put my head down and pushed on through. Not a day to admire the landscape. Still, I couldn’t help noticing today that, no matter the… Read more »

That nasty northwest wind I mentioned yesterday was out in force this morning, knifing through my corduroys like a hundred icy daggers. Of course, like a good Minnesotan, I just put my head down and pushed on through. Not a day to admire the landscape.

Still, I couldn’t help noticing today that, no matter the temperature, my body’s furnace starts to kick in around the same point in my walk — always about halfway through the park, about 15 minutes into the journey. And, from that point on, my body begins to relax against the elements, my muscles loosen up, and I can feel the heat begin to rise from inside my jacket.

On above-zero days, this is usually where my hat comes off and my scarf gets unwound from my neck (too cold today for that luxury).

So, I’m wondering:

What exactly is going on inside of me that makes this happen at exactly the same point in my journey every day?

I’m no fitness expert, but it appears that what I’m experiencing is your basic warm-up regimen. As Kermit Pattison explains it in a March 2007 EL story, that 15 minutes of brisk walking is simply priming my body for a more rigorous workout. It increases blood flow, muscle metabolism and aerobic-energy production — all of which raises my body’s temperature by two or three degrees.

And because my morning walk always takes me on the same route at the same pace, I’m guessing that my body’s furnace is going to kick in at pretty much the same place every day, no matter how cold it is.
In a proper fitness regimen, I suppose I’d begin jogging at that point — rip off that last mile and a quarter in seven minutes and arrive at the office bathed in sweat, my computer case hanging precariously from my heaving shoulder, happily primed for a day of energetic wordsmithing. Or, maybe not.

I guess I’d rather walk. And quietly appreciate the way my body’s engine warms me on even the coldest January morning. I’ll save the sweaty stuff for the gym tonight.

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