Winter has finally made its presence known in the southeast. Temperatures in the morning are hovering below freezing and the highs are below fifty. The training doesn’t stop though, not for a minute. Cold weather is no reason to slack and no excuse to hide indoors. If anything now is the prime time to get out there and start exercising. The air is crisp and clean and the risk of overheating minimal. Anyone who’s worked outdoors before in the winter can testify that once you start exerting yourself things quickly warm up and it’s not uncommon to see people sweating and shedding layers on a bright sunny day despite air temperatures in the twenties.
If you’re going outside to train or run just remember to dress warm especially around your torso head and feet. If you can keep these areas warm your body will naturally take care of your legs and extremities. Wear ear covers and a warm beanie to protect your head from wind-chill. Gloves are also a good idea, though if you sweat through your hands like I do don’t go too crazy with the thickness of the material. Depending on the wind speed and conditions it is possible to run in shorts during the winter. As your legs are the primary muscle groups activated during running they generate a tremendous amount of heat. As always though, be careful and observant of changing weather conditions, if it is cloudy or precipitating cover up. It also helps to wear some kind of face covering in extreme cold to help warm incoming air into your lungs. The tissues of your respiratory track are very sensitive and easily damaged by frigid and sub-zero air. Breathe through your nose and out through your mouth.
If you plan on doing your running indoors or on a treadmill, remember to dress in layers that can be removed easily as your body warms up. Many gyms set their thermostats on roasting for some reason and though it may be freezing outside you will quickly over heat if not dressed appropriately. Also make it a habit to carry a towel with you to wipe up sweat. Your fellow gym patrons will appreciate it. Be sure to wipe down your body and any bare skin too before exiting the gym and going outside. Exposed sweat and moisture can quickly lead to hypothermia when the temperatures dip.
Winter training is what separates the truly dedicated from the half-hearted athletes. Remember that winter is no excuse to abandon your training regimen. Many professional athletes must compete regardless of the weather. While they may get paid to do so, you too must rise to the challenge. Learning to perform in a variety of conditions and climates is a great way to condition your body and build resilience. Generations ago your ancestors had no choice but to work and live outside. Nothing has changed today except our willpower and strength to persevere. Push yourself during this colder time of year and you will reap the benefits when it’s warm again and your competition falls to the wayside.