Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing, and unfortunately for we Grand Rapidians who live very far north of the Equator, it's in full swing. Days are shorter and gloomier, the sun is practically non-existent behind a wall of clouds, and the extreme cold and snow causes us to hide in our beds binge watching Netflix, our only comfort in this withering winter wasteland. But what if the problem isn't the weather but rather our mindset? We bond over complaining about the cold, creating a very negative attitude toward winter. Frequently we begin our moroseness before it even really gets cold. Instead of collectively commiserating, perhaps the best way to survive the harsh Michigan winter is to adopt a more positive attitude, enjoy the beauty of winter, and celebrate the things we can only do during this time of year.
Hiking is generally thought of as a summer activity, but it's a great way to enjoy the outdoors in winter as well. From snow shoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, running-there's plenty of ways to be active during the coldest season. West Michigan has one of the highest concentration of trails in the nation, so there's plenty of natural scenery to choose from. But if you're going to brave the winter weather, you'd better be prepared. Proper clothing and gear are very important factors in not being miserable while outside. One way to gear up is to get fat tires for your bike. The bigger tires, usually around 4 inches wide, allow for a more balanced, stable ride on tricky terrain. You'll have no problems riding right through slushy, snowy ground, and gliding over roots and rocks.
If you need a little extra motivation to leave your bed, consider signing up for a spring race. Grand Rapids has quite a few spring/summer races that offer quite the challenge. There's the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, a race for women in April, the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, the largest 25k in the U.S., and The Fred 200 Mile Relay, 200 miles of relay running all on the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail.
Whatever your interests, find your motivation to get outside and enjoy winter in Michigan. It might be abhorrently cold, but it sure beats sitting inside counting down the days (58 to be exact) to warmer weather.
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