Training in winter
It’s here! We’re not talking about St Nicholas or Santa Claus here, but about another visitor who may soon (we hope) be donning a thick white coat. Winter and its procession of snowflakes, frost and other icy showers have a nasty habit of tempting us to stay by the fire.
But here’s the thing… Giving in to this temptation by stopping training means, as we all know, jeopardizing the spring recovery and risking major frustration once the fine weather returns.
After all,winter training not only helps you maintain your fitness level, it also has a whole host of benefits. It allows you to burn more calories, despite the accumulation of fat in winter, and is stimulating for the immune system. It also makes you mentally stronger and helps overcome the blues associated with short winter days.
So it’s a good idea to take the bull by the horns and prepare for a suitable training programme during the cold spells, so as to be better equipped when conditions return to normal.
Indoor – outdoor
Running coach Catherine Lallemand, the Belgian long-distance runner who won the European mountain running title in 2003, is happy to offer her advice. On the subject of winter training, she first recommends an indoor warm-up to gradually increase body temperature, mobilize joints and activate muscles before training.
When continuing the program outdoors, before starting, it’s ideal to be able to take the wind direction into account. If possible, we’ll set off with a headwind to keep the wind favourable for the return journey .
It’s also important to adopt the right clothing to keep you dry and warm at the same time: thanks to the technical features of today’s equipment, this is now perfectly feasible… and Moov360 is not going to deny it.
The ideal way to do this is to use the multi-layer or “onion technique”, which involves 3 superimposed layers: the first is a close-fitting, breathable garment to wick away perspiration, the second is insulating to keep warm, and the third is a thin, protective windproof and/or waterproof layer (to be worn according to the day’s weather, and more often in case of heavy wind or rain).
In case of snow, when the sun is out, keep in mind that you can quickly become hot. Lightweight equipment is recommended. What’s more, reverberation can be strong, so don’t forget your sunglasses.
We also need to think about extremities and sensitive areas: head, hands, neck, feet and ankles. In particular, it’s essential to always protect Achilles tendons, because when it’s cold, the risk of injury increases: muscles lose their flexibility and strength. As for joints, ligaments and tendons, they lose mobility and elasticity.
The choice of footwear is also crucial: you’ll need to select them according to weather conditions and terrain.
The intensity of the effort will also depend on the weather conditions. In very cold weather, if you don’t feel like training indoors, it’s best to reduce the duration and intensity of your effort.
You also need to adjust your pace according to the type of ground you’re running on: you may enjoy running in the snow, but the exercise is more strenuous. And if it’s slippery, you’ll need to be extra careful, not only to avoid falls, but also because the body is put to a greater test as it is continually forced to re-establish balance and stabilize itself.
If conditions are too risky, opting for a treadmill workout may be a good solution.
In sub-zero temperatures, wheezing (bronchospasm) can occur during exercise. This is because the air breathed in is so cold that it doesn’t have time to warm up completely when inhaled. To limit this phenomenon, it’ s best to inhale through the nose (the air will have a better chance of warming up) andexhale through the mouth.
Naturally, when you’re exerting yourself, you breathe in and out through both your nose and mouth. At times like these, it’s hard to force yourself to breathe in through your nose alone… The best thing to do is to equip yourself with a neck warmer that can protect your mouth and nose if necessary, act as a barrier to the cold and protect your bronchial tubes from icy air.
You should also bear in mind that breathing in cold air accelerates dehydration. So never neglect fluid intake, which also helps prevent injury.