Athlete Students

The woes of Wisconsin winter

Nick Porisch

More stories from Nick Porisch

The Highlight Reel
May 10, 2023

Photo by Marisa Valdez

When I decided to take Athlete Students this week, it was a balmy afternoon with temperatures in the mid-80s. I had walked into the Spectator office fresh from a day in the sun and was ready to talk about all the summer activities I was looking forward to.

Wisconsin, though, had other plans.

Within a few days, as everyone is well aware, the weather shifted from those idyllic summer temps back down to the classic Wisconsin weather we know and love (somebody out there must love it).

Flurries of snow blanketed the formerly lush, green grass and temperatures sat right around freezing.

In an instant, my dreams of wearing shorts to class, going for jogs without gloves and lazy days in Owen Park came skidding to a halt.

After a few days, the snow has melted but the cold temperatures and brisk winds remain. The warm summer days of last week feel like a barely remembered dream.

I’m a major hibernator. In the summer, late spring and fall, I exercise on a daily basis. My schedule is filled with rock climbing, running, slacklining and hiking. My screen time and video game playing usually plummets.

The winter is another story, though. I think this winter I went cross-country skiing maybe four or five times, and occasionally stopped by the bouldering wall at Hilltop.

For the most part, though, my winters are spent watching and rewatching television shows, scrolling TikTok and playing an unhealthy amount of video games. 

Shout out to Outer Wilds, which my roommate and I once spent 15 consecutive hours playing one day in January. It was a strange experience.

For me, sunlight and exercise are intrinsically tied to my mental health, so these lethargic winter days definitely take a toll as Wisconsin winter rolls on.

So, when the sun does come out and the temperature rises, I am more than ready to lace up some tennis shoes and get back to my favorite activities.

All this is to say that Wisconsin’s whiplash seasonal shifts pose a unique challenge to me and my fitness life, and I’m sure more than a few readers can relate.

When the weather first turned nice, I felt a sudden, intense pressure to do everything, all in one day. I wanted to slackline, play pickleball, eat on a patio, have a bonfire, play spike ball and more.

My girlfriend had to remind me that there will be a lot, lot more nice days coming our way.

Coming out of winter, it can be easy to desperately try to embrace the first days of warm weather, and it can feel crushing when the weather inevitably shifts back to cold temperatures.

It can be hard to get into the rhythm of regular exercise and outdoor activity when the outdoors are shifting back and forth so much.

But I think the important thing to remember is that there will be a lot, lot more nice days coming our way, even if it doesn’t feel like it now.

For now, we just have to roll with Wisconsin’s icy punches, but when the warm weather does return again, just know I’ll be the first one out there basking in the summer sun.

Porisch can be reached at [email protected].