Kirsten Wyffels and her mother, Linda Turner, both of Mabel, are dressed warmly and adorned in reflective safety vests as they head out for an early morning walk. The duo is committed to daily morning walks for exercise with an added bonus of some bonding time.
Kirsten Wyffels and her mother, Linda Turner, both of Mabel, are dressed warmly and adorned in reflective safety vests as they head out for an early morning walk. The duo is committed to daily morning walks for exercise with an added bonus of some bonding time.

You have to be pretty motivated to get in a third of your FitBit step goal before 6 a.m.

But for the mother and daughter team of Kirsten Wyffels and Linda Turner, that’s par for the course.

Wyffels, 43, and her mother, Linda Turner, 68, live next door to each other, and have been meeting to walk the streets of Mabel each morning for about 10 years.

“I want to be clear there are many people who walk in Mabel … maybe just not at 5:30 in the morning,” said Linda, a retired Mabel-Canton schoolteacher.

The walking duo tries to walk seven days a week. One of the reasons they walk so early is so Kirsten can get home in time to get her kids ready for school and still arrive at work at the Winneshiek Medical Center – Mabel Clinic by 7:30.

Although they may start their walk a little later on weekends, the pair is faithful to their mission and they try to walk seven days a week.     

“We walk the same route every morning. It takes us about 30 minutes to walk two miles and we get in 3,000 to 4,000 steps,” said Kirsten.

Wearing reflective vests, the two can be seen in all kinds of weather as they stroll about town; however, they do have some rules.   

“We don’t usually walk if it is below zero with the wind chill. But Monday we walked at minus 1 with a wind chill of minus 11. We had little icicles on our eyelashes. I guess it depends on how calm it is,” said Linda.

Kirsten added they try not to walk if there is “close lightning” or ice on the road.

“At 5:30, it’s dark and you can’t see the ice. We’ve walked when there is light rain, but not in a downpour,” she said.

The duo has a regular route and they try not to backtrack; however, if there is the threat of bad weather, they may walk back and forth on their street so they can duck inside if a storm hits.

Familiar faces

Kirsten added it is fun to see some of the same faces every morning.

“We meet the same people in their cars. And I’m not afraid to tell people to slow down,” said Linda. “We did almost get hit once, but he came back and apologized.”

Plan B

When the weather isn’t hospitable for their walk, Kirsten can use her treadmill or elliptical at home, but has to wait until her family is awake to do so. Linda sometimes travels to the fitness center in Spring Grove to use their equipment.

And although they’re not opposed to bundling up, they both admit summer walks are their favorite.

“I love 5:30 in the morning in the summer when the sun is up,” said Linda.

“July is my favorite because it’s usually not too humid and about 70 degrees,” added Kirsten.

Quality time

Both Kirsten and Linda said they realize how lucky they are to have each other for support.

“My doctor likes it. She’s happy to know that I’m still walking,” said Linda. “One of the first things you learn to do in life is walk, and one of the last things you want to give up is walking.”

Kirsten adds she knows she gets in more walking because of her mom.

“If she didn’t come to pick me up, I probably wouldn’t be doing it. I certainly wouldn’t go out at 5:30 by myself,” said Kirsten.

Linda said having someone go with her helps the time go quickly. “We also have the chance to catch up on things,” she added.

Kirsten noted she has a friend who lost her mom who always tells her how lucky she is to have her mom to walk with.

“I know I am,” she said.