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I don’t know if there is a correlation between these near-freezing temps and the Detroit Lions advancing in the playoffs – but I’ll take it. Many of my athletes are thrilled with the fluff and the temps (like Trish in the cute pic above)! The snow brings a refreshing change of scenery along with some endurance training alternatives, like fat biking, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing. Whatever activity you choose, remember that these temps do present unique challenges that require preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable workout.
Wear Versatile Clothing:
For athletes participating in any winter training, adaptable attire is crucial. Opt for a snug base layer (no cotton), insulating mid-layers, and windproof, waterproof outer layers. Tailor your clothing choices to the demands of your activity, whether it’s the rapid movement of running or the sustained effort of cross-country skiing. And for the love of all things, keep your head and hands protected! Grab some moisture-wicking smart wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry!
Want to improve your performance? Don’t skip the warm-up, especially when you’re engaging in high-intensity winter activities. Your indoor warm-up should include soft-tissue work (foam rolling), dynamic stretching, muscle activation (get those glutes fired and ready to GO!) as well as a few explosive plyometrics to get the brain and body on the same page. This primes your muscles and joints for the outdoor elements.
Hydration Is Non-Negotiable:
Winter is notorious for bringing dry skin, itchy dry throats and chapped lips… because the air is so dry, silly! Working out in dry winter air increases your risk for dehydration. Carry a water bottle with you, plan your route around water sources, and stay on top of your fluid and electrolyte intake.
Understand Wind Chill Dynamics:
If you play outside regularly, you are probably intimately familiar with the impact of wind chill on your activities. As a reminder, check the weather forecast, noting the wind speed and direction and wind chill. Adjust your route based on wind conditions – try to finish with the wind at your back if possible.
What is Your Body Telling You?:
Extremely cold extremities, numbness, or any signs of frostbite are your cue to pack it in. Signs of frostbite include:
- Numbness or tingling
- Skin color changes
- Hard or waxy appearance
- Joint and muscle stiffness
- Intense cold or pain
- Blisters or swelling
If you suspect frostbite, get medical attention immediately. Warm the affected area gently without rubbing, using warm (not hot) water.
How Cold is Too Cold
As a rule of thumb, -15 degrees is too cold. At the end of the day, you know your limits. If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold. Even if you like the cold, still keep an eye out for warning signs. We don’t need a popsicle on the podium!
Alternative for Traditional Aerobic Conditioning
Winter athletics are a great way to get in your aerobic conditioning – as a coach I’m all for it! You’ve got a leg up on your competition from Texas that’s on the bike and run year-round. You are less likely to burn out because our bodies crave the opportunity to move in different ways and the mind needs the experience that comes with our wonderful seasons. So do it up! Just be careful. And check in with your coach so she knows you made it home safely, please. 🙂