Winter is starting to settle in around the country — here in DC, the temperatures have dropped almsot 40 degrees over the past week. Quite a shock! But not enough of a problem to derail my training. Here are a few tips for keeping up with your program even on the coldest winter days:
Remember to eat! Having food in your stomach is always important — you shouldn’t train on a completely empty tank. When it’s cold out, your body burns extra calories to keep warm, so it needs a little extra fuel. Have something low in fat and protein so it’s easy to digest — cereal, muffin, toast, and fruit are all good ideas for qa morning pre-run snack.
Wear the right clothing! Avoid cotton, since it won’t keep you warm if it gets wet (and yes, you will sweat, even on the coldest days).
Dress in layers. Put skin-tight clothing on first — tights and a turtleneck top. Then put on a water-resistant jacket training jacket. On the coldest days, you can add a pullover top under the jacket, and windpants over the tights.
Keep your hands and ears covered. These are the first to get cold. Make sure you wear gloves — and fleece mittens over those if you tend to get very cold. A knit hat, headband, or balacava pullover will take care of your ears.
Don’t overdress! You should feel a little chilled when you start, since you’ll warm up within 10 minutes or so once you get going. If you overdress, you’ll sweat, and the dampness will make you feel cold if you slow down.
Have a thermos of hot liquid in your car for after your training session, or stop in for a hot chocolate or coffee somewhere.
Put on dry clothes as soon as possible afterwards.
And finally, on the very very coldest and windiest of days, rub a little vaseline on your nose; this will protect it from windburn and help keep it warm.
Once you’ve prepared properly for the cold weather, you’ll find that it’s actually fun to be out on the trails, especially if snow and ice have created a visual wonderland.