Winter Fitness Halts Blues, Keeps Muscles Ready For Spring
When the mercury drops, it is very easy to put your training on hold for a couple months. Truth is, your body will thank you if you just head out into the fresh air to work on a strong fitness base for spring.
Winter running can be one of the most enjoyable experiences for the runner's senses. Some days you may be one of the few outside, so there is a mystical silence to enjoy.
DEFEAT THE WINTER BLUES
It is proven that exercise is a perfect way to improve your mood and avoid the possibility of seasonal affective disorder. Often, athletes lose some hard earned conditioning in the winter months. By staying active through the winter months, you can more effectively achieve long-term health and fitness goals.
Be sure you are equipped with the right gear, and your workout regimen can keep you energized and in shape through the cold, dark months of winter.
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK?
Winter really isn’t the time to attempt to shave minutes off your 5K or increase your mileage. View cold weather training as time to build up aerobic capacity. Work on imbalances as well as joint mobility and stability issues. These could lead to injury in the spring.
PROPER WINTER FUEL
Despite the cold, you still sweat! Did you know? Winter air actually draws more moisture away from your body than usual, so if your run is longer than an hour, you may need to carry water.
Proper hydration and adequate caloric intake remain keys to a productive run. It is wise to stash an energy bar or nuts in your pocket. If a slip or fall keeps you outside longer than expected, extra calories will help you stay warm!
TRAIL RUNNING OPTIONS
Black ice and slush-filled sidewalks and roads can add to the challenges of winter running. Hit the trails! In the winter, it’s fun to strap on a backpack and do more running on trails. Let someone know where you’re going, stick to your route, carry a phone, take an extra layer, and pack an extra snack in case you are outside longer than originally planned.
To get the most from your winter training, dress for what will be comfortable about 10 minutes into your workout - once you have warmed up. Here's a great idea: to take the edge off the beginning of a run, throw your clothes in the dryer for a few minutes before heading out the door.
Pay attention to wind chill factors and minimize exposed skin with a wind block.
You will want to change into dry clothes as soon as possible after your run. Don’t stand around in a parking lot - you’ll feel miserable. You could get hypothermia!
SPEED UP YOUR WARM UP
Do walking toe touches (keeping your kicking leg straight and touching your outstretched hand with your toes) and butt kickers (raising your heels to your butt with each step). Both exercises will help to warm up cold muscles quickly.
AGAINST THE WIND
If at all possible, start your route running into the wind. This dries excess sweat at the outset of your workout, allowing you to exercise in relative comfort and make it home before the shivers strike.
Please remember that it gets dark earlier in winter. Think about how well others can see you. Sunglasses can protect you from snow glare and even blowing rain or sleet. Traction devices can fasten around your shoes and keep you upright on icy sidewalks and trails.
Know the signs for hypothermia: reduced coordination, uncontrollable shivering, slurred speech, and fatigue.
Know the signs of frostbite: hard, pale skin that is cold to the touch. Seek immediate medical attention.
Bottom line, don't let the dreary cold season sideswipe your fitness goals. Learn and practice the tips above and stay on track! Your body and mind will thank you this spring.