Hello, Winter Wonderland! Or should we say, hello cold temperatures and frozen, icy roads? One thing is for sure: winter and running training aren’t mutually exclusive. However, it is worth noting certain points and you might have to make some adaptations in your training in some cases.
We are going to show you how you can organise your training the best way possible in winter conditions, as a solid winter training makes you both physically and mentally strong for the next season.
Controlled breathing in very low temperatures
In winter, our muscous membranes are generally irritated, as we stay a lot inside in warm and, more importantly, dry air. This makes things easy for bacteria and viruses. This effect is reinforced by the cold air outside.
Generally, at low temperatures, breathing through your nose is recommended, possibly requiring a reduction in running pace. Breathing through your nose, the air is cleaned, heated up to body temperature and saturated with water vapour. If the intensity is too high for you to breath through your nose, a cloth covering your mouth works as well.
Never without warming up
No matter if it’s a base run, an high intensity training or a competition; a good warming up is important both for your lungs and your muscles. Thus, start slowly and take your time for your muscles to get warm. This is especially important for intervals, middle pace sessions and competitions. Deliberately plan more time for your warm-up.
Generally, one should make sure not to put on too much clothing. The best way to do it is to follow the onion principle, also called the «three-layers-principle ». The first layer should be a tight functional shirt (moisture transfer), the second layer can be chosen depending on the given temperature, but should also consist of functional fibres, and the third layer serves as protection (water-repellent, wind stopper). Cap and gloves provide further warmth. It is important to always cover your achilles tendons during the cold time of the year. After training, put on a cap as soon as possible, in order to avoid unnecessary waste of energy.
A must during winter is to mind your own (and others’) safety in the dark: wear reflecting clothes, running vest and/or a head torch.
Running through new snow is, of cours, great fun. However, it is also more exhausting, which is why the intensity needs to be adjusted to the ground surface. Special caution is needed if the surface is slippery or frozen. Firstly, because of increased risk of falling and secondly, because of the great strains that the constant balancing and stabalising mean for your body. In this case, it is sensible to transfer the training to a treadmill.
Training duration and intensity
In very low temperatures, training durations should be reduced, training intensities should be decreased, or trainings should be conducted inside altogether. In our running.COACH training plan, this can be regulated/indicated by a minus sign. A good warm-up is especially important in the cold as well as starting slowely and building up speed progressively.
Alternative training or fitness centre
If it is cold or icy outside, it is sensible to conduct one or the other session in the water (swimming, aqua jogging), on cross-country skis or in snowshoes.
Even during winter, sufficient supply of liquid is important both before, during and after a session. Thus, after training especially, drink enough and refill your carbohydrate reserves with a high-energy snack, as you burn more calories in the cold.
Positive effects of winter training
- It helps to resist the winter blues
- It offers a lot of new possibilities for training
- It burns additional calories, which helps to avoid the winter fat deposits
- It gives your immune system an extra boost
- It makes you mentally stronger
So, keep on running, brave the winter and get the maximum out of you for the next season!