6 Tips for cold weather training - gear up for winter
Cold weather training can be tough on your body, whatever sport you're into. If you don't take proper precautions, you run the risk of cold weather injuries, especially if the temperature drops to below 0 degrees centigrade. Our bodies find it much harder to adapt to cold weather training than hot weather training. Your body has difficulty maintaining its internal temperature as heat is lost - the fitter you are, the better your body will be able to keep warm , but if heat lost by the body exceeds heat production, your body temperature will fall. An internal body temperature of below 35 degrees centigrade (95 degrees Fahrenheit) can cause hypothermia - symptoms include shivering, fatigue, confusion and slurring your words.
Winter athletes are also at risk of frostbite, which can occur when temperatures fall below 0 degrees centigrade. Frostbite most commonly affects exposed skin, but can also affect covered feet and hands! If you haven't eaten properly, didn't sleep well or are tired from training, your body's ability to stay warm is reduced. Cold weather training also puts you at risk of respiratory problems such as exercise-induced asthma. So how do you prepare for a workout in cold weather this winter? We've got 6 tips to keep you motivated and ready for anything!
#1. Layer up
Layering your clothes helps you to keep as warm as possible when training outdoors in winter. Wear a base layer of compression clothing and layer over it loose-fit athletic clothing. Try to keep your headgear, socks and gloves as dry as possible. You can wear a windbreaker-style jacket over warmer layers. Layering means you can remove items of clothing as you warm up, to prevent over-heating. During high-intensity training your body may produce enough heat to keep you warm.
#2. Get plenty of food and rest
If you're taking part in a race or heading for an outdoor training session, get plenty of sleep so that your body is prepared. Eating a light pre-workout meal with easy-to-digest carbs and protein gives your body the fuel it needs to keep you warm. Longer training sessions may require refuelling with light snacks, like a wholegrain cereal bar, to prevent glycogen depletion.
#3. Always warm up
It may be minus 5 outside, but that doesn't mean you should skip your warmup! Warming up before you workout is important at any time of the year - even more so in the winter months when you want to increase your internal body temperature before your training session begins. A dynamic warmup should take all the major joints through their normal range of motion and activate your muscles. Warming up properly improves blood flow and increases muscle compliance, vital in cold weather if you want to avoid injury! There's little point in carrying out static stretches before your workout as this isn't effective prep for cold weather training.
#4. Stay hydrated
When you're training in cold weather, you're not going to feel as thirsty as you do when training in a hot environment (like during that Bikram Yoga class, for example)! But make sure you don't get dehydrated or your performance will suffer. Lukewarm water is an excellent alternative to icy cold water during the winter months, as it can help to soothe your throat during your workout.
#5. Pack your meds
Anyone who suffers from breathing problems such as asthma should always ensure they have their meds handy. Inhaling cold air during your workout can irritate and damage your throat, inflaming your airways and ultimately leading to an asthma attack, especially when breathing harder during exercise. So always pack your meds and make sure you use them if need be.
#6. Be visible
Limited daylight hours in the winter months mean you'll probably be training in the dark. before or after work. You don't want to be invisible to traffic and other people, so wear fluorescent, reflective gear and use a headlamp if you're running on dark streets, tracks or on a main road.