If we are to believe the news, the UK this year will experience a colder than average winter. But don’t let this deter you from your winter training.
There are a few things you can do to make your winter training more comfortable.
- Perform a warm-up for your muscles.
- Perform an inspiratory warm-up.
- Dress in layers and protect your hands and feet.
- Wear reflective clothing.
A physical warm up prior to any exercise is essential. Firstly it will help to prevent injury. Secondly, it will improve performance. A warm-up will take about 10-minutes and is best performed immediately prior to exercise. If you plan on going out for a run, a 10-minute brisk walk or jog will do the trick.
The intention of a warm-up is to increase muscle temperature. By performing a warm-up you will increase blood flow to your muscles, warming them up. Furthermore, by increasing blood flow, more oxygen will be available for your muscles. As a result, your performance will improve.
The NHS website has a great, all-round exercise warm-up routine that takes about 6-minutes to perform. It involves:
- Marching on the spot.
- Heel digs.
- Knee lifts.
- Shoulder rolls.
- Knee bends.
An inspiratory warm-up means warming up the muscles you use to breathe in. Just like your other working muscles, your breathing muscles benefit too from a warm-up. In fact, not warming up the breathing muscles can lead to excessive breathlessness during the start of your training.
An Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) device, such as POWERbreathe IMT, is designed specifically to target the breathing muscles. They use a resistance that you breathe in against. This makes your breathing muscles work harder. As a result, your breathing muscles become stronger and more resistant to fatigue. As a consequence, your stronger breathing muscles will not demand so much oxygen, freeing it up to go to your other working muscles instead. And just like the physical warm-up, more oxygen to your muscles means better performance.
Wear layers and reflective clothing
Wearing layers of clothing allows you to stay warm but easily cool down too when needed. This is beneficial because while training you’ll generate heat. If you’re too warm this heat will make you sweat, and the evaporation of sweat will make you feel chilly. Therefore, the benefits of layering are that you’re able to peel off a layer when you feel warm, and pop it back on when you start to cool down. Additionally, make sure your outer layer - your waterproof layer - is reflective. The reason being, at this time of year it gets dark earlier and this can creep up on you when out training.
In addition to layering your body in clothes, you need to ensure your hands, feet, ears and head stay warm too. In fact, a lot of heat escapes from your head. Furthermore, in the cold, your body firstly ensures your core is warm. This results in blood flow to your hands, feet and head being drawn away, leaving them cold.
In the warmth of summer, it’s easy to remember to drink. However, this is an easy thing to forget during winter training. You may not feel thirsty, but you will still become dehydrated. This happens simply from breathing, as well as sweating. Drinking before, during and after training is just as important in the winter as it is in the summer.
Last but not least, stay safe while winter training. Make sure someone knows where you’ll be going. Monitor how you feel while you’re out. Closely monitor the time too, so you know when to head for home. Listen to your body. You know it best. If you’re feeling rotten, consider training another day instead.
Finally, heed the advice from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) on how to stay healthy during winter.