So in the past we have discussed temperature regulation, and the importance of staying hydrated and how to maintain a comfortable body setting to make sure you are running at peak performance. One thing we have yet to touch is how to run in a cooler or even winter snow type of setting. With UTMB going on this week, no better time to discuss this important topic.. UTMB is notorious for weather changes from the freezing cold to scorching heat, and we have yet to cover much about the colder weather so today, we will be discussing some tips to help you run better in the cold.
How to stay hydrated in cold weather?
When we see the weather get cold, that doesn’t mean our training ends right? However, our approach to how we hydrate has to adapt to these condition changes. we don’t typically associate cold weather with poor hydration, we often correlate that with our hotter temperatures. An example of this can be for the fact that in the cold, we don’t sweat near as much thus we think we are properly hydrated right? wrong. The bodies thirst response is controlled by the brain, it arises when our body lacks fluids or intakes too much salt and from that our brain tells us that we are thirsty. During cold conditions our thirst response drops tremendously, almost cut in half. This is an effort for the body to stay warm. The downside to this from a runner or athlete standpoint, the body doesn’t go into fluid save mode and as we continue to not drink fluids, our body is still producing urine so we lose on both sides.
So how do we stay hydrated? Well, for one we now know that regardless of our thirst response we know we need to hydrate which in turn means carrying hydration with us on our training, races, or any other athletic activity. One thing you may run into is that your fluids freeze on you during this type of condition, here is an answer for that. If you carry a vest and are worried about cold conditions freezing your fluids, wear a light running vest that can stretch over your pack and the body heat will keep the contents from freezing. If you are a bottle person, you can also keep the bottle under your lightweight vest in your hydration pack for the same effect. If you don’t want to carry the extra layer, the key for a hydration reservoir would be to blow air back into the hose of the reservoir to keep all of the water out of the line, once the valve is sealed off the air in the hose itself won’t freeze and it will help to keep your fluids thawed.
How do I protect my face during my runs in the cold weather?
When running in the cold, your face is susceptible to the elements (no brainer right)? There are a few ways to protect your face during these times that are comfortable and convenient. The first way is to get a piece of fleece cloth and cut to shape from the top of your nose, underneath your eyes, covering your cheeks, and down to the brim of your nose. Next you want to go and get a tube of tac gel, (this is the same stuff that doctors will use for heart monitors) and put a small amount across your nose and cheeks and apply the mask. This is a really convenient way to keep your nose covered during those really cold conditions to protect yourself from frostbite.
Another tip, you can actually rub a bit of olive oil across your nose and cheeks during your runs that will help cut down the wind chill and keep you out there running longer. This of course would need to be paired with the layer system. Don’t forget when using the layer system to take note of the hydration section above.
How do I make sure I am safe and seen during colder conditions?
If you are running in this type of condition, odds are it’s winter and it’s probably dark outside. This tip is pretty straightforward but you want to stay safe and the best way to do that is to have some form of active or passive lighting. You can check out some good options for that here. It is more crucial if you live somewhere cold enough that the roads may ice over, or it may even snow to make sure you are visible to traffic.
These are just a few tips to get you started in the cold. Ultimately our training never ends, even when the weather wants it to. So we have to adapt and use every piece of advice we can to make sure we are being effective and safe in order to see the progress we desire. Do you run in the cold? How do you adjust your training in the winter?