Winter cold hits differently depending on where you’re at. And in most cases winter tends to make it harder to train. Especially if you’re a person who enjoys training in the great outdoors. But, that doesn’t mean that training outside is completely out of the question during colder winter months. There is just more preparation and precautions to be mindful of.
Winterizing your outdoor training is the first step of making sure you can maintain your training no matter what season you’re in. Even during the colder, potentially slushier time of the year outdoor training is possible. You’ll just need to follow various steps to make sure that you’re prepared.
Step number one is making sure that you have proper clothes for your outdoor activities. In addition to making sure you have the right clothing, you’ll also want to ensure that you don’t overdress. This is where thinking in layers comes into play.
Let’s say you’re a runner and you enjoy the specific trail you run all year round and want to keep running it throughout the entire year. Now, let’s say that it snows and there is slush on that trail. On top of that, the temperatures are in the low 30s. As a runner, you would want to wear a t-shirt, shorts, and a puffer jacket in this kind of weather. Instead, you’ll want to layer. This could look like wearing thermals under your regular workout clothes. Plus adding in a long sleeved sweatshirt and sweatpants. If you’re a runner you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing layers that can be taken off when you’re warmer and put back on once you’re cooling down.
Another thing to think about is moisture. You don’t want your bottom layer to be something that can easily get wet and stay wet. You’ll want a moisture wicking material. Think polyester or polypropylene materials. These types of fabrics tend to take your sweat and help release the moisture. Then you’ll want something more insulating as a second layer. Maybe even a fleece or wool. In most cases, you wouldn’t really need a third layer unless it’s a particularly wet day and it’s either snowing or raining. But, having the right gear is only the beginning. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve prepared physically as well.
Much like when you’re training throughout the year, you’ll want to prepare your various muscle groups for your outdoor activities. This typically means that you’ll want to stretch. Stretching helps warm up the muscle groups so that you don’t potentially cause pain or injury during your outdoor training session. Not only that, if you’re new to training outdoors then you may want to take it slow and essentially start from the bottom, up. This will ensure that you’re not overexerting your body in conditions it is not used to.
Now, you’re probably wondering why we didn’t talk about shoes in the winter gear section above. That’s because there is a wide variety of shoes for all kinds of activities. So it is important to choose the right shoe for the activity. If you’re cycling, you’ll want a shoe for that. If you’re hiking and there’s snow everywhere, boots and maybe snowshoes are needed. Footwear is 100% up to you when it comes to making the right decision.
Different Ways to Train Outdoors
Now, if you’re someone that wants to have a bit more fun when it comes to training outdoors. There are several winter activities that can make a difference and truly give you a workout. One of the best ways to work your core and legs is to try cross country skiing or just plain old skiing.
The layers here are actually much different than if you were to just go for a run. You’ll want to ensure that your body is plenty insulated by your layers. In most cases a long sleeve thermal and thermal pants are a great base layer. Then typically you’ll want one more bottom layer that is then covered by snow pants. The snow pants can have a bib as well which will bring more warmth to the upper body. One of the biggest things to think about is protecting your feet and hands from the cold. If you’re new to skiing it may take a few tries to get layering right for gloves and socks.
If your feet and hands get cold really quick then you’ll want to consider a moisture wick material for the first layer of glove and then perhaps wool or fleece mittens and or gloves for the external layer. If you can find a pair that is water resistant with a fleece or wool lining these tend to work the best. Now, for your feet, the best option is a pair of calf high to knee high cotton socks as the first layer as it breathes a little better. Then over that, the best recommendation would be socks that are at least 90% wool or more. Yes, wool can be very itchy as a fabric. However, with the cotton socks layered between this issue becomes null.
As for the upper body, wearing three full layers with the top layer being a puffer coat filled with down feathers is the best. This is because you’ll want the moisture resistance if for some reason you end up falling or having to force a fall. Which is sometimes necessary if you’d like to avoid injury.
What if I Injure Myself?
Now, whether you’re running, hiking, skiing, or ice skating. There is always going to be a possibility of injury when outdoor training is done in the winter months. If an injury does occur and you don’t realize it until your home you’ll want to immediately start the R.I.C.E. process. In other words: rest, ice, compress, and elevate. This will help with any swelling issues. If you’re someone that hates downtime between training then you’ll want to consider the use of peptides for healing up faster. Two peptides that work for healing include TB-500 and BPC-157 which you can find here.