Running base layer – check, wool tights over baselayer – check, wool skirt over base – check, 2 pairs of socks – check, running shoes – check, gaitors – check, down jacket – check, waist belt with holster and signal pistol – check, weapon for polar bear safety – check, hat – check, neck gaiter – check, goggles – check, Ettra – check. Positive attitude and motivation – check!

And off we go running into the dark dawning our headlamps. That’s right, we are heading outside into the cold and wind to grab that run, elevate our heart rates and get some “peace of mind” and happiness from the inside out that a dozens of cups of coffee and chocolate cake can’t buy.

Routine that includes “moving the body” has saved many a weary, forlorn, hopeless souls. We think back to the time of the early explorers from the Arctic, Antarctic and places in between. When you are down, get out! When you are dark – chase the light. Writings from early survival during the polar night points to a clear fact – doing nothing can sink you into depression, cabin fever and mental instability. This can lead to a certain death. Our daily rhythm is vital to our health and survival here.

We make the best of what we have inside the hut and outside. To give you perspective here is what we have to work with. If you have seen photos of where we are – VanKeulen Fjord – you see that there is nothing but open sea, mountains and endless landscapes of Arctic tundra – though now completely covered in white. It’s dark outside so our vision is limited to the beam of light from our headlamp – it has 4 settings and the throw is 60 -70 metres max. Beyond that, uncertainty creeps in and that’s why we carry weapons and signal flares. We do laps up and down on the flattest parts so we don’t invite surprise encounters – read: polar bears, at the top of a hill or below a highpoint. We carry night vision binoculars when we run. If one of us asks – “what is that over there?” We can see if it’s a reindeer or … you get the idea? Eyes are busy, hearts rates are elevated as high as 176, calfs and thighs burning from the deep snow. Duration outside is usually 30 mins.

Back inside, we have light though space is also limited at less than 20 sq meters. Usable floor space is maximised by shoving a table against the couch and rolling out 2 yoga mats. And this is where the real training for synchronised stretching happens after our workout. It must be an Olympic sport we proclaim! as we keep stretching – right legs in sync at 90’.

Our workout includes 2 sets of 9 UnderSun band exercises, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and then stretches. Our synchronised stretches are sure to catch on so we will be making instructional videos soon. Right, left, up down. It must be taught!

Our days usually start around 7-8 am and end at midnight- 1am. We eat well and are both preoccupied with staying strong and fit to handle the physical tasks. Tasks like pulling our boat ashore after launching it for citizen science and phytoplankton/salt water collection – 1-2-3 pull…, or lifting logs – 1,2,3 lift…, chopping wood and holding back Ettra when she spots a reindeer.

We train five days a week and everything we have to use for our workouts is stored either in a crate under the bed or attached to the ceiling or a wall for easy hanging when not in use. For example – we have Olympic rings in the kitchen (no joke!), pull-up bar, slack-line (in the kitchen), foam rollers, rubber bands, balls, yoga blocks, push-up handles and also a jump rope that we cannot quite find space to use. And perhaps as important as all of our equipment is music to train and stretch to.

So, what do you do before breakfast? Tell us what you do to stay sane and fit when the days are getting shorter and darker!

xoxo from Bamsebu

What lies before you and what lies behind you are tiny matters compared to what lies within you – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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