Five tips for training through the winter months
DRESS FOR THE OCCASION
To stay warm during the winter season, it's not just about putting on a shell jacket to keep the snow or rain off your favorite race shirt. Instead, you need to layer your training gear to protect your whole body from the winter elements. Wearing proper gloves, hat, long pants and fleece jackets can make the difference between simply getting a run in and maintaining your training plan. Keep in mind that your body temperature will rise shortly after starting your run, so try not to overdress. Put on clothing as if it's about 10-15 degrees warmer than the temperature outside. You may feel cold at the beginning, but a couple of miles into it you'll be have warmed up to the right body temperature.
HEY DRIVER, CHECK ME OUT!
In most parts of the world, Winter is not just about cold temperatures and snow. It's also about the shortened daylight hours. At other times of the year, it's easy to plan your training before or after work or school because you'll have extra hours of sunlight during the day. Being properly equipped for low-light conditions during the winter is key. Try wearing reflective gear or place bright reflectors on your outer-most layer. Also, be extra cautious approaching intersections or stop lights. Lastly, be weary of "black ice". While easy to see during the day, it can be hard to spot at night, and could result in injury.
CONTROL THE NEED FOR SPEED
We all want to make sure we have a strong kick in April when we turn left onto Boylston Street. However, during the cold winter months it is essential to listen to your muscles when doing fast training sessions. Realize that the risk of injury is high when trying to push cold and tight muscles outdoors. If you are doing faster, speed oriented training, try to find an indoor facility where you can get your fast twitch muscles warm.
IT'S OKAY TO DRINK THE WATER
One of the biggest myths in running is that you don't have to drink as much water in the Winter as you do in the Summer. However, dehydration is as much a factor from November to March as it is from May to August. Don't be fooled by the fact you are not sweating as much. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after your run. Try using a pre-mixed sports drink to keep you hydrated during training.
With the extreme temperature change between outside and inside, be extra attentive to your post-run activities. Your core body temperature will drop dramatically as soon as you stop running. Trying going indoors quickly after you complete your training run. Dry off with a towel, keep moving around, and pour yourself a nice cup of tea to help control any dip in body temperature. If you are driving to a workout, make sure to bring lots of extra dry clothes to keep you warm.