As snow falls to the ground and you feel like winter racing runs are out of the question, you may want to think again. Winter racing can be a challenge but it can also be exhilarating to run through the cool air as snowflakes fall on your face! Geared up in fitted layers, you may feel like a superhero ready to save the world or just sprint a few quick miles. I have had many quick winter running races because I had to run faster just to keep warm. Although the cold can be piercing at times, when you complete a winter race you feel so accomplished. As you nestle in your bed at night, your body and mind may be begging for more. Here are my tips to help you in your winter racing goals:
1. Dress for Your Winter Racing
When you begin a winter racing competition, you will need to be warm so your muscles do not get stiff and increase your risk of an injury. Dress in layers but be aware you will probably toss some layers during the race. I prefer to warm up in pants with shorts underneath, a short sleeve shirt with a long sleeve zip up over this and, of course, gloves. Just a few moments before the race begins, I usually take off my warm up pants to run in shorts, regardless of the cold and frigid temperature. Once you begin racing you will warm up. In winter training runs I run in pants, but in races I almost always run in shorts.
2. Run with Caution
Runners be aware! If the roads are ice covered you may want to use today as a cross training day. When the roads are brushed with snow, run with caution and be aware of the cars driving by. Training outdoors in the winter can be challenging but it will pay off on race day!
3. Vary Your Runs
Now that the weather is cold, you may be finding your running distance has shortened. Do not be afraid to vary your runs by adding an interval training day, a treadmill training day and even hill sprints. Now that the weather is cool and there are less frequent races, do not be afraid to test your training. You just may surprise yourself with a personal record time for your next winter race.
4. Stay Hydrated
Just because you are not dripping in sweat does not mean you should not rehydrate during a winter race. You are still losing fluids, electrolytes and nutrients, so make sure you rehydrate. Winter racing can be tricky because so often people fail to drink enough to maintain proper hydration levels. In the winter we often just do not think about it, but put this as your priority to eliminate muscle cramping and dehydration.
5. Warm up Prior
Log in a few miles prior to the race to warm up your body temperature, lubricate your joints and mentally prepare. In the winter it is even more integral to warm up before a race because of the low temperatures. If you fail to warm up you will feel stiff, tight and cold at the race start and this results in a slower race time.
6. Cross Training is Key
Take 2-3 days a week to focus on cross training during your winter racing season. Since there are less races at this time, you will have more time to focus on swimming, biking and strength training as a method of cross training. This will help you to lower your risk of an injury and achieve better race times!
7. Bring a Change of Clothes Post-race
When you finish your race make sure to change out of your wet clothes and layer back up to keep warm. This will help you avoid a post-race chill and lower your risks of getting tight and stiff. I prefer to finish my winter races with a cool down run to the car, following by changing, layering up and blasting the heat.
Hope you have enjoyed my winter racing tips. May you have a snow covered, quick racing season filled with joy and cheer! What are your winter racing plans? Hope to meet you on the snow covered race course!