Tips to Keep Moving (and Avoid Winter Weight Woes)

Winter running.

I recently read an article detailing the fact that it’s not okay to let yourself go during the holidays and over the next few wintery months.

I agree completely. It’s not okay to take a sabatical and then try to get back at it full-speed-ahead come spring (injuries and obesity anyone?). After all, a formerly-fit person can become soft and sedentary pretty quick when given the opportunity and a nice comfy couch. So here are some tips I’ve employed over the years to motivate myself to brave the elements and stay well while exericsing this winter.

1. Bundle Up Already!

Clearly you aren’t going to head out into the snow wearing shorts a la Mark Remy but there are some additional techniques to keep in mind when bundling up.  The first is to remember your layers.  If you put a few layers on top, you can easily shed them as you go along and warm up.  I usually don’t see the need for layering pants but in frigid temps, you might need to.  Layered socks is an option and your winter running shoes may need to be a 1/2 size larger for this reason.  And don’t forget the hat and the mittens (an informal surgey confirms that they keep your fingers warmer than gloves). If you aren’t convinced that snow on the ground is conducive to running and need a lillte more help[, check out Brooks Running Cascadia shoe which has great traction (and laughs in the face of snow drifts).

2. Just because you can eat the snow doesn’t mean you’re hydrated.

I swear I’m not the only one who chomps on the snow – white only please- when thirst hits during a run … right?   For all you snow leopards out there, remember, a few snowflakes here and there does not constitute optimal hydration.  Keep up your fluid intake during these cold months by enjoying warm beverages such as herbal teas and coffee before the run and topping off the tank with warm water before you head out the door. The warm beverages help heat up your system and give you an edge over the cold befor you head outdoors.  If you plan to be out in the elements for a while, remember to stash some fluids along your route. During the winter months, I stash warm water or tepid PowerBar Perform along the course and by the time I swing by for a sip, it’s a cool drink (instead of a rock solid bottle of ice).

3. Take advantage of a free ice bath.

My neighbors must think I’m crazy when they pass by and I’m stretching out in the middle of my snow-covered lawn during the winter months. But in actuality, I’m clever – not crazy – taking full advantage of the snow which serves as an ice bath and helps with recovery after long winter runs. Note to reader: make sure you have a warm shower ready to go immediately after trying this technique.

4. When going long, remember to refuel.

Remember those gels you consumed while training this summer? Well, they also come in handy during winter training.   The best part is that those formerly hot, syrupy gels now offer a cooler option.  Over the years, I’ve used the PowerBar Gel in Double Latte flavor and if I stash the gel in the snow along my route (and use my imagination), then by the time I imbibe, the gel becomes an enjoyable Iced Latte (when chased with water). 

And while on the subject of fueling in the cold, remember those chews you liked so much during the summer training season? They turn into a solid piece of candy in the cold. Biter beware!

5. Reward yourself when finished.

When you’re finished fighting off the daily pull of sedentary behavior, pat yourself on the back, warm up (soon after finishing!) with a nice warm shower, and re-fuel with something warm. Winter soups and stews that are packed with veggies, whole grain pastas, and lean meats (clear, broth-based please!) are a great recovery option and help warm you to the core following a long winter’s run. And after you’ve finined re-fueling, don’t forget to brag to your friends that you were brave enough to get out there and – now that you’ve exercised- find yourself a comfy couch.

Stay warm my friends!