Summer bodies are made in winter and with winter approaching it is terrifying to think that something could jeopardize you fitness goals during the cold months.
So here is are 5 tips to help you prepare for winter running before it is officially here.
Get your immune system nice and strong.
Winter is usually flu season, so this one is probably the most important. If your immune system is compromised you will get sick and that will just mess things up completely. Boosting your immune system can prove to be tricky because it is just that – a system. It’s not a single functioning unit. It is made up of numerous little Soldiers, as my grandmother would say, that have to work together in harmony and balance in order to achieve the best results. The best advice to achieve and maintain a healthy Immune system is to live a healthy lifestyle (a little bit of a let downer, right?). Yip – there is unfortunately no short cut here.
Get you immune system on track by doing the following:
- Eat your veggies – eat all the necessary goodness to take in all the vitamins your body needs.
- Exercise regularly and try to stay active.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Control your blood pressure.
- Don’t smoke.
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take steps to avoid infection. Wash your hands frequently and cook meats thoroughly.
Take the time to plan and organize your life. Plan your week and your schedule, prioritize everything in the correct order. Most of the time planning feels like such a tedious thing but once it’s done everything will move so much more smoothly, and you won’t be making excuses to miss a run because you’re too busy or you have other stuff to do.
- Plan Meals ahead – Have lunches ready to go in the fridge, I usually make lunches 2-3 days ahead. For dinner prep veggies and starches beforehand. Place your meats spiced and everything ready in the necessary oven dish or Tupperware in the fridge the night before. So that anyone in the household can just pop in in the oven or start preparing it if you’re on a run. I phone my Husband whilst I’m running, and I just tell him to pop something in the oven or to take it out if I started it before my Run. That way when you get home you don’t have grumpy family members that are Hangry ( Hungry+Angry..Yes it’s a word)
- Have your outfits planned – I always have a bag of running clothes packed ready to go with me to work so that I can just get dressed after work and go for a run immediately, so when you get home there is no need to get dressed and run the chance of getting caught up in something if you hang around the house too long. Just park and run. By having your normal outfits planned for the day you will always be ahead of your washing and getting ready in the morning after a run is a no brainer, everything is done, just shower and go-go-go. You have to leave as little room for excuses and procrastination as possible, otherwise your lazy side will find a reason to not go for a run. It will also relieve a lot of stress and pressure, because you’ll always be a step ahead.
Get the Gear –
Now this advice can be a little expensive, but it will also be an investment. In the winter it is cold – the only way you are going to not dread going out in the cold is if you wear the right gear. Ensure that you have at least one nice thick pair of running tights and a Motion dry jacket, it has to be breathable and not make you sweat. Read about Sweat and winter running here. I have found since I’ve invested in proper winter running gear I just don’t make excuses to go for a run anymore. Having this area of your running sorted can be expensive but it is definitely an investment not only into your wardrobe but also into your overall health. You’ll go for a run, not get sick and be healthier in your everyday life.
Winter running essentials:
- Thick winter tights
- Motion dry Running Jacket / Outer shield jacket
- Buff (for your head and around your neck)
- Ear muffs / gloves (optional, but will help)
Eat up :
In winter your body functions differently, and it’s cold so we want comfort food! Something that is warm and cosy – no one wants a salad in winter. In summer your body sweats to cool down. In the winter the warmth helps you survive in a cold environment. Because food provides the fuel needed to generate heat, the right diet is important for runners who are exposed to cold. After you eat, your body generates about 10 percent more heat than when you have an empty stomach and contributes to recovery. This increased metabolism is motivated primarily from energy released during digestion.
- Hydration – Drinking enough water is very important, not only in summer but also in winter. Cold hinders your thirst mechanism so you’ll feel less thirsty despite sweat loss. Also it’s cold, so we tend to want to consume warm things. In winter runners also undergo respiratory fluid loss, this is when water gets lost due to breathing. When you breathe in cold, dry air, your body warms and humidifies that air. As you exhale, you lose significant amounts of water. (Like when you boil the kettle?). Try Drinking tea or De-caff coffee – just remember caffeine also dehydrates you so limit it a little.
- Soup it up – Having warm foods like soup are ideal in winter. Like I said a salad is not very appealing in winter. In winter the cold will stimulate your appetite. I’m always more hungry in winter more than in summer – Soups are easy to prepare and can be very affordable. It can also be easily frozen if you don’t add dairy products, making it a great quick warm emergency meal if you default on you planning. Make soups with lots of seasonal veggies and that will also help with the added vitamins.
- Something Fishy:
In winter we are exposed to significantly less sunlight than in summer. The sun comes up late and the sun sets earlier – and if you have a day job the chances are you are either running before or after work and then the sun is down. A lack of sunlight will reduce you daily intake of UV so your body will receive less vitamin D and that can alter your mood and make you feel a little down in the dumps. Counter this by eating oily fish that are rich in vitamin D and omega 3 that is also anti-inflammatory. Vitamin D has also shown to help with bone health, and the omega 3 will help with any muscle soreness and speed up recovery.
Eat fish like:
– Pilchards. (My Fave! Lucky star brand mashed up on toast)
Set a goal or have a deadline:
Remember your running to achieve something. Whether you want to lose weight or want to run a race. Having a goal or a deadline to work towards will help you stay motivated and remember why you started. Life and everyday tasks are usually easier when you know why you are doing it.
Have your goal and commit to it, you’re doing it for yourself, no one else can really hold you accountable except you.
If you’re a seasoned runner it also happened that you run out of motivation after a while. Runner’s world has a 2017 challenge that you can sign up for, for free.
I’m doing it and it’s really helped me stay motivated with minimum commitments to others, OH! And you can win great prizes.
Just remember you won’t always be motivated, you have to learn to be disciplined!
I hope that these tips will help you prep for winter running – winter will be over before you know it and winter running has its own rewards and experiences that summer running misses. Embrace it and go into spring fit and ready to own summer.