Winter is wrecking havoc across the eastern seaboard, which ultimately means: stay indoors. But if the weather conditions are just a ‘bit’ more blustery and cold, you certainly can continue with your outdoor workouts as long as you’re training smart and safely. Increased rain, ice, heavy winds and snow will do everything they can to keep people locked indoors. And while treadmills, indoor pools and spin bikes are heavily utilized during this time of year, you can still get in some outdoor runs or rides if you train intelligently and protect yourself from these winter conditions.
Dress in layers. If you’re an avid runner or cyclist, chances are you already dress in a ton of layers. Making sure your core is warm is of paramount concern, so be sure to invest in a quilted or fleece-lined vest. Long-sleeve shirts and jackets can be easily removed and tied around your waist if you get too hot. Better to be over-protected and warm than left with numb limbs that can hardly maintain pace or even begin to thaw. A base layer may even be needed (i.e. long johns and/or running tights) and certainly opt for top layers that are water resistant!
Protect your ears, feet and hands. The extremities are prone to frost-bite and hypothermia! Our circulatory system carries heat from the core of the body to the skin, and heat escapes from skin, especially exposed skin such as fingers, toes and ears. Investing in gloves, thick socks and some sort of knitted cap you can pull over your ears will ultimately keep you warm and comfortable during your workout.
Invest in some heat gear. Chemical hand warmer packs or battery-operated packs may be purchased and shoved into mittens and/or pockets. These little luxuries will totally make your long run more bearable especially if you have any issues with circulation. You can even invest in a ThermaCare back warmer to keep your core just as toasty.
Continue to drink fluids. It’s easy to stay on top of your hydration levels when the weather’s warm and you’re sweating a ton. When the weather’s cold and you’re struggling to keep warm, the last thing people tend to think about is consuming enough water. But, if you feel thirsty, have dry mouth, are light-headed, and can’t focus well, then you need to drink more water. Also, try adding more fruits and vegetables with a high water content to your diet, and drinking lots of tea between meals and workouts.
Be flexible! If the temperatures are just too low, it’s snowing outside and/or black ice has covered the roadways (or it’s pitch black outside!), be mindful and spend the day indoors. Going to the gym or taking a day off when the weather is just too dangerous is always the best decision. Also, a mid-afternoon workout (when the temperature might have risen just a little) could be a better option than your usual crack of dawn plan of attack. In other words, there is such a thing as too-lousy weather.