How to stay warm in winter

We haven’t even started winter yet, but people are already complaining about the cold weather. Yes, it is almost winter and yes, it is Melbourne. So, as I see it, there are two ways to stay warm in winter.

1: Become a squirrel or

2: Run with Alan.

How does a squirrel survive in a cold, harsh Northern Winter? They do this in several ways. Squirrels prepare for winter by bulking up. Throughout fall/autumn, they maximize food consumption and body mass. In winter, when food is hard to come by, these reserves help them survive. The extra layer of fat will also keep them warm. They will also grow a thicker, warmer fur coat. If they get really cold, they will automatically shiver, which generates a lot of heat in a squirrel, which in turn, warms them up. Then if things get icy cold, they will all sleep together in a huge group, to benefit from the warm, thermal mass.

How would we go, living like a squirrel? In order to bulk up, would we eat donuts all day long in autumn? Would our extra 25kg of body weight keep us warmer, could we live off that fat, just lying on the couch in winter? Would we have to buy a pair of XXXL track pants to accommodate the new food baby? Would we have to postpone a haircut and our other preferred methods of bodily hair removal, just to achieve a warm, organic furry insulation layer?  Would we just stand in the lounge room, whilst resembling the wild man of Borneo, in our XXXL track pants, shivering just to keep warm? If it got really cold at night, would we take our loved ones and knock on the neighbour’s door and ask them if you can sleep with them, because we were cold?

Humans are not good at living like a squirrel.

An easier, more socially acceptable way to keep warm is to run. This morning at our 6am run group, it was cold. Chris told us that it was zero with the wind chill; that Antarctic wind just cuts right through you. Everybody rolled up, all dressed for a Polar expedition. There were parkas, gloves, beanies and scarves. Chris’ huskies were a nice touch; I also liked the satellite  navigation on the sled. It wasn’t long before the layers stared to peel off. After the warm up and run throughs; the runners were down to their t-shirts – and shorts, for some of the less adventurous. After the main set, there was sweat, steam and a lot of smiles. It was still chilly at 9.30am for the second group, even with the sun being out. After 15 minutes, the layers were coming off and I had a pile of clothes that you only ever see at the clothes drop at a brotherhood bin. Same deal at the end; sweat and smiles all round. Everyone was toasty warm and very happy.

Runners will tell you that this warmth will last all day long. It warms you to the core. It warms you physically and psychologically. You make the effort, you do the hard work, then you are rewarded with a huge endorphin rush and it lasts for ages. Then you jump on a train or bus to go to work on that frosty morning and you are confronted by a hairy, fur-clad bunch of people shivering en masse, huddled in a group to keep warm, with subtle, donut aromatic undertones.

So, when it comes to keeping warm, it really just comes down to choice.

I know which choice I will make and it doesn’t smell of donuts.

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