Many Free Athletes are into training outdoors even in winter. At least in the case of completing running sessions, your living room isn’t an adequate facility! Generally, you can exercise outside in snow and rain – changes in temperature and air quality strengthen the immune system so you can even benefit from them! Moreover, the body counteracts the cold with an increased pulse rate (thermoregulation), which increases energy consumption immensely, make training even more efficient. Nevertheless, it is important that you follow a few rules in winter, because the cold can be harmful. As a basic principle, everyone has an individual temperature sensitivity, which should always be taken into account. To guage this, obeying a thermometer as the sole indicator of temperature is not enough.
Invest more time in your warm-up!
Just as with a car, the body also takes longer to warm up in winter. A cold start can result in injury, since training without an adequate warm-up can lead to shock in muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. That is why you should attach much importance to your warm up!
Just as important as proper preparation is the way you go about completing your training. Once you have completed your run, cool down for a few minutes before moving immediately into the warmth in order to stretch, so that your muscles do not become stiff. In winter, muscles cool down very quickly, so any by-products from contraction can not be flushed out of the bloodstream in time. This results in painful muscle spasms and even injury if they are later “torn apart”. If you push hard at the end of your training session, make sure you don’t sit or lie down immediately after reaching exhaustion – this will cause circulation to drop very fast and your muscles will stiffen.
Dress up warmly!
The fact that winter training requires warm clothing should be self-evident. Nevertheless, it is easy to underestimate temperatures, especially when you’ve spent the day indoors ahead of your training, or if the wind picks up when you are out. Dressing for the cold is best done according to the well-known “onion principle”, which suggests you dress in easy-to-remove layers to allow for changes in body temperature. Be sure to wear enough layers and that the extremities are covered since they radiate a large amount of heat. On our blog you will find more tips for the right clothes in winter.
Watch your breathing!
The colder the air, the greater the stimulus to the bronchi, lungs and mucous membranes. On the one hand, the cold forces the bronchial tubes to narrow, while also reduces the capacity of mucous membranes to stay moist. The typical burning or irritation of the throat is felt when a lot of cold air is inhaled, causing a slight inflammation and a very clear sign that it is too cold to exercise in the fresh air. Pay attention to this as much as possible by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Breathing like this gives air a longer routeto the lungs and so more time to be moistened and heated through the nasal mucosa and mouth. The airway that passes through the mouth is moistened and heated during exhalation, enabling efficient breathing through this channel when necessary. It can also be helpful to wear a breathing mask or a handkerchief over the nose and mouth, to further warm and moisten cold air during inhalation. At temperatures below -15 ° Celsius, you should not exercise outside if possible. At this temperature, the body can not sufficiently warm air before it reaches the lungs. Illnesses from breathing cold air range from a serious cold through to pneumonia. For asthmatics – no matter at what temperatures – individual special rules should be adhered to – consult your doctor first.
Don’t stay too long outside!
After training, make your way as quickly as possible into the warmth and take off any wet or sweaty clothes, because directly after exposure, the immune system is particularly weak and vulnerable. Especially dangerous is this immunological gap, which is also known as Open Window, which is particularly present in the first half hour after training. During this timeframe, the body is particularly susceptible to colds and infections.
Train during the day!
When possible, choose morning or noon to schedule your training. This time of day it is not only the warmest, but is also when the sun is best positioned to stimulate the production of Vitamin D. In winter, many people suffer a vitamin D deficiency, a vitamin which is particularly important for bones and joints and in also lifting the spirits! There is no bad mood for Free Athletes even in winter!
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables!
Also, be sure to support your immune system with a balanced, vitamin and mineral rich diet! Fruits and vegetables should already be the focus of your diet. Any form of root vegetables, all types of cabbage and winter salads such as lettuce, chicory or radicchio should regularly be on your plate. Winter fruit like tangerines, pomegranates and all-season varieties like pears and apples provide you with an extra dose of vitamins to make you resistant to the cold.
Do not forget that your health always comes first! If you’re experiencing pain when breathing, develop a cold or get a bad cough, pause your training, keep warm and, if necessary, also see your doctor! PS: Inform yourself not only on the temperature but also on other weather conditions that can impede your training. Prepare beforehand by choosing shoes with a good profile to handle smooth and black ice. Wear sunglasses and strong sunscreen to protect you from strong solar radiation and reflection. Because it gets dark very early in the winter, take a headtorch if you exercise in the evening hours.