• Coach Toussaint

Frost Bites, But There Are Many Benefits To Winter Running

Winter running is snow joke. If you peek outside this season, chances are you’ll see several dedicated runners braving the blustery elements. While it can be tough to leave the cozy comforts of home, keep in mind there are several benefits to running in the winter. So, before you go dashing for the “dreadmill” or table your training until spring, consider this list of winter wins. They’re sure to have you lacing up your shoes in snow time.

Spare a summer strain

When summer temperatures soar, your body cools itself down and prevents overheating by transporting blood to skin level and producing sweat. This results in a loss of electrolytes, which is why hydration is extra important on those sweltering days.

When the mercury drops, it’s easier for your body to maintain its core temperature. You’ll be able to conserve blood for your muscles and heart, and hold onto fluids better. With significantly less strain on your system, many runners find they can reach faster paces in the winter, with the same effort from the summer.

Build a better base

Steady, comfortable runs form the base of any training program. These are runs you can complete at about 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. While sloppy, snowy streets can make it difficult to complete high-intensity speed work in the winter, increasing the frequency of your slow and steady runs will build up your base mileage for spring.

Physiologically, this base is important to advance your aerobic conditioning, build slow-twitch muscle fibers, increase your blood volume and glycogen storage, and enhance your body's ability to blast away fat.

Improve your spring and summer races

Runners who build up their base with winter running often see significant performance improvements when spring and summer race season rolls around. Lower intensity, repetitive runs over the course of the season will strengthen ligaments and tendons so that you'll be stronger and more injury-resistant when Mother Nature turns up the heat.

Maintain your training levels

After putting in months of training effort throughout the spring, summer and fall, it can be tough to let that melt away in the winter. Many runners will use the snowy season to simply maintain the base that they worked so hard to build when the weather was warm. While you may not be training for a frigid race, maintaining the endurance you’ve built will not only benefit you come race season, it can also boost your mood, blast any winter bulge and bolster your mental toughness after returning from a trek in the tundra.

Boost your immune system

If you find yourself shivering on the sidewalk before a run, don’t fret. You could actually be boosting your immune system’s performance. An increase in your body’s norepinephrine response is created with a pre-run chill. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that’s released by the adrenal gland; it’s integral to your body’s “fight-or-flight” response, which helps you brace yourself for an attack, even if it’s one that comes in the form of a flu.

Before you hunker down and hibernate for the winter, consider how the temperature can actually benefit your training. However, in the same way you wouldn’t go sprinting through a summer storm, ensure your safety is top of mind with winter running. Before you can be a stronger, faster (and colder) winter runner, you need to be comfortable with the conditions. Winter is snow joke, and there will definitely be a few days where the outdoors is snow place for a runner to be.

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