Your guide to winter training
As the nights draw in and there’s a real nip in the air it’s tempting to ease off when it comes to your fitness but this needn’t be the case.
Melton Sports has come up with 10 top tips to help you maintain your training regime throughout the winter months so you emerge fitter and stronger in the spring. Share your tips at www.facebook.com/meltonsports
1 Eat right
Foods such as pasta, soups and baked potatoes are great choices as they provide a slow release of energy. To keep your energy levels topped up pack a snack or a sports gel or bar, too. One common mistake in winter is not to drink enough. You may not feel thirsty but your body uses up a lot of water through respiration in order to maintain your body temperature. It’s important you replenish these fluids and electrolytes so give your body some fuel such as Lucozade Sport or have a recovery drink after your session.
2 Layer up
Give your body a hug by wearing a base layer. They trap the heat in and the fabric works to maintain your body temperature by aiding the evaporation of sweat. When it gets really cold wear a layer that blocks the wind, gloves and a hat or headband. But be careful not to overdress. As a rule of thumb dress for 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it actually to allow your body temperature to increase and reduce the risk of overheating and excessive sweating. In this case less is more. Cyclists will need to prepare their bikes for winter as well as get their kit sorted.
3 Extend your warm up
Your body will warm up more slowly in cold weather, especially first thing in the morning. One tip is to put your kit in the airing cupboard overnight or in the clothes dryer for a few minutes before heading out. And don’t forget to do some decent stretching or run up and down the stairs a few times. The cold doesn’t feel so cold when you’re warm but remember it may still take 10 to 15 minutes or running or riding before you are completely warmed up and hit your stride.
4 Be safe, be seen
lf possible, exercise during daylight hours and absorb what sunshine there is. If it’s dark out, wear bright, reflective clothing. Lights are a must for cyclists and a headlamp or flashing armbands will make runners stand out. Don’t forget to look ahead – there will be more hazards around and everyone’s vision tends to be reduced in winter.
5 Train with a friend or group
Make your fitness sessions safe and social. If you’ve arranged to meet someone it’s harder to make excuses and cry off. You can always go for a coffee and cake afterwards!
6 Try out new routes
Running or riding the same old routes can become a chore so try out some new ones. Go off road and hit some trails if you can as they are good for building strength and power. If you’re working away or having a weekend break take your kit with you. When you’re out, if possible, start into the wind. This way you’ll have the wind at your back on your way home and avoid getting chilled by the wind after you’ve been sweating.
7 Increase your intensity
Keep constantly on the move and up the intensity to make your body really work and stay warm in the process. If you’re on a tempo run or ride mix bursts of speed work into your session. To keep things fresh, though, it’s important to take every fourth week a bit easier. Time out and rest is important. too.
8 Set a specific goal
Look back at your sporting summer and ask yourself if you performed as you’d hoped. Set some goals and/or enter a competition. Knowing you have to train for a race or hit a mileage target or fitness goal is a real motivator. Remember to reward yourself when you achieve it, then set another one!
9 Go to the gym
When it’s bone-chillingly cold or icy outside treadmill running, a spin cycle class or turbo trainer or gym session/activity class is a good way to stay fit without risking injury.
10 Change quickly afterwards
As soon as you stop running or cycling or the final whistle blows your core body temperature will drop so change quickly from top to toe and, if possible, drink something hot, then relax . . .