Should you be one of the brave and determined souls that engage in cold weather training, we salute you. No hibernation for the weary, especially when there are resolutions on the mind.
Cold weather training presents its own set of challenges. The body, for one, responds differently to the cold—during preparation, training itself, and recovery time.
Here are five tips for better, safer training in cold weather. Follow these and you’ll be well positioned to train stronger throughout the cold season.
1. Get Enough to Eat and Drink
Just because the temperatures are low doesn’t mean your body isn’t working just as hard (if not harder) than it might during summer. Calorically speaking, your body needs fuel not only to sustain your training routine, but to keep your body arm while doing it. And proper hydration is just as important during winter as it is any other month.
2. Insulate and Regulate
Beyond plain comfort, layering yourself properly can help manage cold weather conditions during training. Make sure to insulate your body so it stays warm, of course. But for longer routines, ventilate intermittently to make sure your body doesn’t overheat under the extra layers. Finally, shield yourself from the cutting wind best you can.
3. Stay Moving, Stay Loose
Cold temperatures can limit blood flow and encourage us to (consciously or not) stay tight and compact to keep in the warmth. While training in cold weather, it is important to maintain circulation throughout the workout. Runners, for example, can windmill the arms, or periodically shake them out. Wiggle the toes, open and close your fists. Maintaining good circulation prevents injury and keeps the body running optimally.
4. Cool Down Sensibly
A cool down is always a good idea, no matter the weather. That’s because after training, the heart is working extra hard and requires time to gradually return to a normal state. Cold weather puts even more load on the heart, so it’s important to get a gradual cool down to reduce risk of heart strain, fainting, or feelings of sickness. But don’t linger in the cold! Cooling sweat can increase your risk of catching a chill.
5. Clear It With a Physician
Vigorous exercise of any kind puts added strain on the body. Because training in cold weather requires more heart exertion, it is imperative that those new to exercise, or living with obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, consult with a physician first.
Ultimately, the mantra for cold weather training is simple: prepare well and be sensible. The five pointers above should help you train smart during the winter months and be in the best shape of your life come spring.