Winter or cold weather running can be a fun and enjoyable way to stay fit over the cold season; summer doesn’t have to mean an end or reduction to your exercise routine. With winter running comes different challenges however so your approach to nutrition needs to be different in order to achieve the best results. While these tweaks aren’t massive, there are small actions you can take in order to truly thrive when the weather turns south.
Load up on carbohydrates
Something that is crucial to understand about winter running and the body in cold weather is that you are going to be burning more calories (source : STAT) and more energy. This is obviously a bonus in terms of workout as you can often burn more calories while outputting less effort than you would in summer. While this means that winter running can be a great way to keep fit, you need to keep that in mind when fueling for your runs. Load up on slow-burn carbohydrates before your runs. Fruits and vegetables can be a great source of carbohydrates as well as the usual calorie bombs of pasta and rice. Take a smoothie of different fruits with you on runs in order to keep yourself fueled during long distance travel as it’s a convenient source of energy and it can taste really good.
When out on runs in the summer months, your body will let you know when you need to hydrate and you’ll be more than aware of the need to drink water and replenish yourself. However, it can be less obvious in the winter months when the body doesn’t give off those signals as readily. However, you still need to keep your body hydrated so make sure you are readily drinking water throughout your run as you will only run yourself into exhaustion quicker.
Use warm meals to recover quicker
We’ve discussed nutrition in cold weather before with our skiing nutrition guide and a lot of that information is still relevant here so we’ll link to that for more comprehensive advice but one key piece of information is very important and that is how to recover fast. Hot meals full of protein and carbohydrates can be really great for recovery as it helps to warm up your body faster while also having all of the benefits that protein usually provides, helping to reduce soreness and strengthen your muscles. Some great suggestions would be :
- A hearty beef stew with mashed potatoes – plenty of energy and protein as well as a warming treat. Usually, a stew also comes packed with useful, slow-burning energy vegetables like carrots and potatoes so you can’t really go wrong with this. Add some mash alongside to really boost the recovery potential.
- Lasagne – Protein and carbohydrates in a tidy stack. The ultimate Italian family meal is a delicious and nutritious meal that also usually comes with a lot of dairy in the form of melted cheese. After a long run, this will go down a treat.
These are just a few ideas to improve your performance over winter runs as it can be a really enjoyable experience and something that we want to see embraced more as many beginners and casual runners can put the shoes away in September and lose all of their great progress and the opportunity to learn more in what can actually be a more welcoming exercise environment if you can embrace the cold.