We Eugenians are fortunate that mild weather rarely hinders the determined athlete from pursuing outdoor exercise. However, even in Eugene dwindling hours of daylight, winter storms, slippery conditions, and chilly rain can throw a wrench in your outdoor exercise routine. Let’s talk about some key considerations for exercising in these winter months when both sunlight and motivation to move can be minimal.
1. Layer Up.
The classic Orgonian saying goes “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear” sure holds true. Hats, gloves, rain gear, tights, it’s always better to have an extra layer you can strip when you start to sweat rather than never get warm.
2. Warm Up Inside
before heading out! Now more than ever it is important to perform your warm up routine before heading out the door on a cold day. Warm up routines are individual to the athlete and not a one-size fits all. At the very least they should include active movements that warm up key muscle groups, bringing some blood flow and mobility to your tissues.
Some days, it's just not realistic to venture out. When trails and roads are icy, or winter conditions present dangers, it’s time to reframe it as an opportunity to try other modes of exercise. Put your bike on a trainer, visit a local pool, or do some body weight exercises at home, or run repeats on your stairs. If you need more convincing on the value of cross training, check out my previous blog post here.
4. Focus on Strength
Strength training doesn’t require a big fancy gym with lots of grunting and weight dropping. Youth athletes and adults alike can reap the benefits of targeted strength training. Check out this blog post for a refresher on the benefits of strength training in the winter months. Also, if group exercise and skilled instruction is what you're looking for, join our strength classes ( check out this blog). A second class time is now available starting in January! (you can sign up here)
5. Remember to Hydrate
Although you may not notice how profusely you are perspiring like you do on those hot summer days, it's still just as important as ever to stay hydrated throughout the day. Exercising requires us to replenish fluid intakes, even on colder days, and shouldn’t be neglected.
6. Break out the Lights!
Lights aren’t just for decorating the house this time of year! Less daylight means it is more important than ever to be visible to drivers and other pedestrians. Additionally, running in the dark can be a little more hazardous (especially if you tend to be a little klutzy like me) so break out the headlamps! I have recently started using a rechargeable light up vest and I love it!
7. Give yourself some grace
Getting out there and getting exercise on cold and dark days is hard. Running in the dark is challenging, and when you add in wind and or rain, it is going to have an impact on your running pace. Sometimes, there is value in effort based work, knowing that you won’t always be moving as quickly as you would when it’s well lit or better weather. Be proud of yourself for getting after it, even if the pace isn’t perfect, and let your effort level replace the stopwatch.
8. Buddy Up
Having running company, whether this be running friends, group runs or a four legged companion, is great for multiple reasons. First off, the company makes running on those dark days a little safer. Second, company helps with motivation!
Hopefully these winter exercise tips help you make the most of winter training months. If you need additional insights to run safe and happy this winter, come visit us at Zenith Performance and Wellness for your physical therapy, personal training, and wellness needs.