Winter running can be a pleasure or a very problematic task. I want to outline some of the dos and don’ts at this time of year.
Winter training means slippery surfaces, cold winds, dark nights, mornings and very low temperatures.
Temperature is the main issue, pathogens enter the body through the pores of the skin, so when we sweat the pores open and incomes cold and the wind will drive it in faster! Cover your arms legs and neck, to reduce this possibility.
”But I get very hot” you may say. Fact – the skins temperature sensors stop working below 5ºc so you have no more feeling of the real temperature.
The food you eat also comes into play, we should eat warming foods this time of year, oats, sweet potatoes, garlic, ginger.
Not summer fruits and salads – and especially bananas, yes they may have potassium and carbohydrates but have the coldest thermal energy in the intestines causing cooling in the body: bananas, melon, cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce all in the summer.
Don’t eat a banana at the end of your winter race – Do eat Dates, they are warming and also give much better levels of minerals and glucose
As the hours or sunlight are low and we are covered the amount of vitamin D is drastically reduced, therefore more prone to other problems as calcium needs vitamin D to help its absorption, muscle fibre contraction, and many functions of the nervous system.
As with all elements in the body, any excess is dangerous. Vitamin D is fat soluble and excess is not lost through urine like vitamin C. VitD will continue to draw calcium from food and bones. Too much could cause calcium deposits that damage, blood vessels, heart,and lungs tissues and a short term overdose will cause sickness. You have heard of sunstroke this is Vitamin D toxicity 100,000 international units would be toxic.
Unless you have a winter sun holiday planned it may be helpful to get an additional 200-400iu either with a supplement or with fortified foods.
Slippery when wet, muddy and icy!
Take into account the normal trail or hill run may become a one-legged dance when muddy.
So adapt your route to pavements and other gravel tracks. Rain and good footwear shouldn’t be an issue, but having a second set of runners would be a good idea as they take some time to dry.
- Don’t run or ride in ice – skate or go skiing.
If at all possible train midday – if not then wear light colours to be seen – some reflective gear or lights – if you are riding a bike you don’t need all the lumens in the world to be seen, and in fact some lights are so bright you blind other cyclists and road users, and we all know how unpleasant that is!
As the cold air is the main killer, keep your runs a bit shorter, you may want to increase the intensity but be sure you are warmed up. Preheat the air coming into your lungs by breathing in through your nose. If you can nose breath in and out you will reduce the onset of sports asthma, by keeping a balance of oxygen to carbon dioxide. I have more info on this here
- Cover up to stop cold air entering your pores.
- Eat warming foods not summer fruits!
- Changes your route to be less slippery.
- Be seen but don’t blind.
- Nose breath to pre-heat air to the lungs.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your run.