With so many of us passing on returning to the gym, for now, running popularity will likely continue to grow through the cold weather months. Here are some tips to keep you happy, healthy, and on the road this winter!
Shorter days and colder temperatures mean less exposure to vitamin D-producing sunlight. And while the vitamin is well known for its association with bone health, it also plays a role in immune system functioning, digestive health, and mood. Shoot for 1000-2000 IUs per day of liquid sunshine when days are short to keep your immunity and running energy up.
Even though we may not end our runs with cottonmouths and sweat-soaked clothes, it’s still critical that we stay on top of hydration. Your skin, immune system, and kidneys need it. Shoot for half your body weight in ounces daily. If you have a hard time filling up on water, keep in mind that there are other sources of hydration—like fresh fruits and vegetables, soups, broths, and anything else you can sip on.
Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) impacts immune health as well as growth and tissue repair after a tough workout. Up your consumption of foods high in vitamin C such as dark, leafy greens, and strawberries. Eating in-season foods are also a great bet including citrus fruits, deeply colored root veggies, and bell peppers.
Balance Energy Intake
A decreased training load will naturally lead to some weight gain if your nutritional habits don’t change too. Maintain an exercise routine and make sure your nutrition matches your activity level. Set a spring distance goal to hold you accountable and encourage the consistency you desire. Find a running partner. Invest in the gear you need to make winter running comfortable and safe.
Expect Slower Paces
No, it’s not because you have become a slug. Running is more physiologically taxing during the winter months. Colder temperatures actually cause your muscles to contract less forcefully, making them less efficient. Even if you’re warmed up and wearing proper gear, you still won’t be able to run as fast as you can in ideal conditions. You also produce more lactate (better known as lactic acid) in the cold. A practical application of this phenomenon is that your tempo pace (and all race paces) will slow in cold weather. Don’t fight it – it’s normal.
It’s All About Layering
The first article of clothing should be a sweat-wicking, warm fabric, like Under Armour ColdGear.
This layer serves as another buffer between you and the outside air. Try a long-sleeve synthetic running shirt or a fleece layer if the temperature is sub-zero.
Depending on the exact temperature, wind, and conditions (like freezing rain or snow), you’ll want either a windproof jacket or a very warm running shirt.
See you on the road!