‘Tis the season for cold weather training! This season can be a little trickier when it comes to training plans, and especially this year where training plans have been a lot more wonky.
With it getting colder and with races cancelled, finding the motivation to keep training can be difficult - and laying on the couch stuffing your face with junk food may seem like a more fun and viable option.
But if we want to keep up the adaptations from our training this year and set ourselves up well for next year, lounging around and vegging us out is not going to cut it.
Scroll to the bottom to check out our videos on cold weather training tips!
How can we balance rest and recovery (which we know is super important for long-term performance) with maintaining and improving training adaptations?
We want to start with our goals for the next year and then figure out what we’re willing to sacrifice on either side.
If you’re okay with sacrificing some performance for a longer rest and recovery, that’s okay. And if you’re okay with sacrificing a little of your rest and recovery for some improved performance, that’s okay too.
Again, it’s just about figuring out where you’re at now, and where you want to be.
Furthermore, even if you’re training at the proper intensity for your body and for your goals, if you’re not consistently applying that training stimulus, your body won’t respond optimally and sufficiently to create the necessary adaptations.
If you’d like to learn more about training at the proper intensity for your body, we’d love to answer your questions! Contact us by using the links up top, clicking the “Book a Call with Me” button, or clicking here.
Also remember that you can maintain some of the adaptations you’ve made while switching things up. Winter is a great time to introduce some cross-training if it’s not already a part of your program.
Event-specific training is important, but cross-training allows us to work the body in different ways from what we encounter in typical workouts. It can give our bodies an active break, with the added benefit of challenging our bodies in ways they’re not used to being challenged, which can spur beneficial adaptations when consistently applied.
Try moving from the trails to the road or vice versa. Maybe try some indoor cycling, or rent a pair of cross-country skis, and hit that beautiful Utah backcountry!
Before moving onto some suggestions for gear, let’s discuss a few considerations specific to cold weather training, and especially, cold weather training here in Utah.
While we live in a beautiful and majestic place; unfortunately, air quality in winter is often...lacking. So it’s a good idea to make a quick check of the air quality before you go out on your run.
If it’s particularly bad there are a few different things you can do (none of which involve going back to bed by the way!)
Several companies make neck gaiters and scarves that are designed to filter out the particulate matter that presents the problem when running in poor air quality; these are different than your typical off-the-shelf-gaiters in that their primary design is for filtration with the added function of keeping you warm.
Alternatively, it may be a day to hit the treadmills, an indoor track, or a day for some form of cross-training.
If you still want the feel of an outside run and you have some extra time, going up one of the canyons and getting above the inversion for some fresher air is also an option.
Now you’ve gotten out of bed, laced up your shoes, and you’re ready to hit the ground running, literally! Way to go - give yourself a pat on the back!
But in all your excitement to get out and run (and maybe to get your run done as quickly as possible) don’t ignore your warm-up and cool down.
When it’s freezing and windy, it makes sense that you’d want to skip the warm up and just be warm. And you’re not warm unless you’re really moving, right?
But warming up does a couple of really good things for us. It tells our bodies that we’re getting ready for a higher effort than what we’ve been doing just previous.
By slowly raising the heart rate, it helps minimize stress on the heart. It allows our body time to get its energy systems online, prepped, and ramped up to meet the effort you’ll put in. It also increases circulation to the joints and muscles, which preps them for activity as well.
Cooling down does the same, but in reverse. It helps our bodies return back towards baseline and ramp down.
It allows circulation to normalize, both reducing risk for passing out (which may occurs when cool-down is skipped, blood pools in exercise-dilated vessels of the legs, and BP drops) and the risk of stroke-type events due to a rebound BP increase (The vessels in the leg constrict as the muscles are no longer being used, but heart rate is still high with the heart contracting more forcefully, leading to an increase in BP).
So just do us and yourselves a favor - warm-up and cool-down!
Now, let’s talk gear!
I always like to say that there’s no bad weather, just bad gear. There are a few basics here, but a lot of it comes down to preference. Some runners like to be decked out head to toe while others are good as long as their hands and head are covered.
First is the base layer: We want it to be sweat-wicking, while also being thin and fitted enough to easily add more layers.
Merino wool is often a great choice for this, as it not only accomplishes this, but the shape of the fibers also traps heat, allowing you to better regulate your body temperature
For upper body, short or long-sleeve will work, but again, go for something form-fitting
For the lower body, try running tights. Some brands have wind panels built in to the front, which can be really nice for those particularly chilly days.
Spikes/Running Snowshoes: There’s a couple different considerations when running in the snow and ice! You don’t want to slip, or sink in deep snow! What you put on your shoes depends on if you are on the road, on the trail, if it’s icy, or if it’s snow packed!
For road running: nano spikes
For trail running: micro spikes
For ice: micro spikes (nano spikes are not enough to dig into deep ice on the trails)
For snow: Running snowshoes! These will help you stay on top of the snow! Micro spikes and nano spikes won’t help you here!
And that should pretty much cover what you need for winter training!
Again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out by clicking the links at the top or the “Book a Call With Me” button! We’d love to answer them for you! Hope these tips helped out, and we’ll see you on the road!
Check out our videos below for a deeper dive into some of the things we just talked about!