Warm up to winter training

Outdoor training in these sub-zero temperatures can be challenging -- but when dressed appropriately, winter workouts can be a real treat for the senses.

The first few months of the year are the perfect time to implement new training goals and healthy changes. But it can be a battle to deal with cold temperatures, shorter days and — for many students — adapting to a new region with abnormally brutal weather patterns.

Photo: Ousman Diallo
On those shorter, cold Winter days, runners should dress in clothing with reflective details if planning to train after dark.

Luckily for us, Central New York is full of outdoor beauty. When the weather permits, let the outdoors inspire you to pull on some warm clothes and fulfill that New Year’s exercise resolution — and burn off all those holiday cookies you consumed over winter break.

There are a few things to remember about outdoor training in the winter, though.

Dress in Layers. The popular notion that holds true for world travelers is also important for individuals who train outdoors. Winter marks a harsh change in the weather -- as the sun softens, the air grows cold and the days roll on. Look for thicker versions of standard technical fabrics.

If you’re a Lululemon Athletica fan, keep an eye out for non-light versions of Rulu and Luon. Wicking fabric is also important. Nike’s Dri-FIT is an example of it, although every athletic wear retailer has clothing with wicking/Dri-FIT technology; it wicks away moisture so the water doesn’t cling to your skin and chill you. Wicking material should be your base layer, and any additional layers will add warmth (often the mid layer) or protection against the elements (often the top layer). Keep an eye out for clothing made of Thermax, CoolMax, or polypropolene.

You’ll get warmer as your body temperature rises post-warm-up, so be prepared to peel off a top or two. If you have a familiar route, establish a safe area to leave a jacket, and pick it up on the final lap. In brutally cold temperatures, try something with down insulation.

But remember to avoid overheating. Your body will warm up, and exercising while overheated can lead to dehydration, exhaustion and sweat. That sweat is significant; it makes your clothes wet. And when your clothes are wet, you cool off. Cooling off in the cold can have damaging effects to your health.

Gear.  Winter days are notoriously short, which can present a challenge to dawn and/or dusk runners. Safety is always an issue, whether you make a wrong turn on a route or a car simply doesn’t see you. Remember to bring your keys and a photo ID and stick them in your running pouch or bra. I highly recommend running with a cell phone, regardless of whether your phone has GPS and/or music capabilities. Make sure your outfit has, at the very least, some sort of reflector detail or bright, neon-colored accent so that cars, motorists or bicyclists will be able to see you as you go about your training. Nathan Sports offers affordable visibility gear, from clip-on LED lights to reflective vests and bands. Many clothing options, such as Gap’s Athleta, also feature reflective details; many of Athleta’s winter staples have feminine reflective details and are also made of their Wick-It fabric, a polyester and spandex blend.

Sports sunglasses are very beneficial, as the sun reflecting off ice and snow can be brutally bright and prevent your ability to see icy spots or giant, freezing-cold puddles. Additionally, hats or ear warmers are perfect gear to keep heat trapped. In very windy conditions, balaclavas and shades will be your best friend.

Water. It’s easy to think that we need more water when we’re sweating buckets in the summer, but it’s vitally important to keep drinking water in the cold —perhaps even more so than when it’s warm out. This is because the dry, cold air, coupled with strong winter winds, leads to our bodies actually receiving less moisture — and that moisture needs to be replenished. Keep drinking!

Motivation. But what’s the best part about winter training? Whether you are indoors on the elliptical or outside on the track, you’ll develop healthy habits that carry you through the year. After the winter holidays — where we were surrounded by social activities that include those once-a-year meals and holiday treats — remember the wonderful culture of the final few months of the calendar year, and establish motivation and energy that will carry you through the cold, dark winter months and back to spring.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.