The Best Winter Workout Tips for Reaching Your Fitness Goals
Temperatures are dropping and winter is coming. If you’re a runner you definitely know that cooler weather (especially snow) is not always your best friend. Despite the cold, keeping up with your outside physical activity can still be possible, even in Michigan winters, according to Michigan runner and registered dietitian Summer Geers.
Here are her best tips on exercising outside in the winter so you can stay track on your fitness goals.
Milk Means More (MMM): Summer, what do you do to stay warm during the cold months in Michigan?
SG: I feel like the ONLY answer to this is to bundle up! It’s crucial for me to make sure that I have everything covered. Especially when the wind is blowing and the temperature drops really low. If I attempt to go on a run with the wrong amount of clothing on, I turn right back and get more. I like to be as comfortable as possible on cold runs!
MMM: Is there any special gear you wear or recommend?
SG: I literally live and swear by my headband ear warmer with mittens. I have a matching leopard set that is dedicated to just running outside in the winter and colder months (don’t worry, I do wash them!). I also have leg warmers that I wear to help keep my ankles warm. During really cold weather, I throw on a scarf. My feet, hands and head are always the first to get cold so I make sure they are covered. I can always take them off if I need to. Most often if I take anything off, it’s my headband and mittens which are easy to carry and can always put them back on if needed.
MMM: Is there a special warm up you do or recommend to clients to help get the blood pumping?
SG: This takes me back to the days that I ran track, because that’s where I adapted my warm up routine. I recommend a lot of dynamic stretching, things like high kicks, knee to chest, walking lunges and lateral leg swing are a few of my favorites.
MMM: Training during the winter months can get long. How do you stay motivated or help motivate others to run outdoors when it is freezing?
SG: This is one of my favorite questions to answer because, in my opinion, there really is no way to stay motivated all the time. The truth is for me, sometimes I’m simply not motivated. Some days it seems like a chore. This is to be expected. I like to remind my clients that it will not always be easy. As weird as that sounds, these are my favorite days because they are the days that it’s a challenge! I just like to keep my goals in mind and push through. I truly believe those are the days that we get stronger.
MMM: It sounds like even for a sports dietitian like you, it takes will power to get outside and get your workout in!
SG: 100%. It’s not always easy, but it’s always WORTH it and I feel so much better after being active. Being active really helps keep my nutrition on track too! During the winter months it can be hard to stay moving or eating healthy in general. Like I mentioned before, I feel like this is a period of growth and where we get stronger!
MMM: How important is the cool down after a run in cold weather?
SG: So important! You may have heard the saying, “The cool down is just as important as the warm up.” It’s not something I’ve always been good at and I really used to never stretch after a run or any workout really. It’s something that I’ve adapted over time. If I don’t stretch after a run in cold weather, my body tightens right up. If I take that time to stretch it out, I feel so much better and my muscles get all the benefits!
MMM: So we have to ask, how cold is too cold to run outside?
SG: [Laughing] One time I ran in negative 13 degrees weather. THAT was too cold. I could feel my legs literally freezing and I was like oh no, did I just cause myself to get frostbite? I think that day I ran about 3 miles and I told myself never again would I run in temperatures like that. That is my too cold. First and foremost, you need to stay safe. So, I recommend indoor workouts or the treadmill on these days. No excuses right?!
MMM: Are there any different food recommendations you give to clients to recover from a cold weather workout, compared to warm weather?
SG: GREAT question! Carbs, protein and rehydration stay the same no matter what workout you are doing. It’s so crucial to refuel. A couple of GREAT post workout meal/snacks that are my favorite: smoothie made with low-fat milk, fruit with a third-party tested whey protein powder if you would like (consumer lab is a great way to test the quality of your protein); low fat chocolate milk; or low-fat yogurt with fruit.