Exposure to more extreme, inclement weather increases a runner’s energy expenditure, fluid losses, iron turnover and muscle and liver glycogen use. Therefore runners, particularly those undergoing high-intensity training runs, require additional energy and nutrient intake before, during, and after training.
Top Winter Fuelling Tips
- Carbohydrates: To maintain energy needs and keep your glycogen, glucose stored in the muscles, stores optimal on your long, winter runs, consume 25 to 30 grams of carbohydrates every 30 to 45 minutes for runs longer than an hour.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium which is particularly important for runners at risk of stress fractures. It also increases the fast twitch muscles and muscular strength, helps boost your immune system and improves mental health. We get most of our Vitamin D from sunshine, therefore during the winter months, when it is darker you may not be achieving your daily requirements. A daily supplement, from October to March, will help maintain your Vitamin D levels and help prevent the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency which include muscle weakness, fatigue, susceptibility to illness and bone fractures. Dietary sources: fatty fish, UV treated mushrooms, eggs and fortified food i.e. breakfast cereal.
- Iron and Vitamin C To ward off winter ailments and boost your immunity increase the amount of vitamin C and iron in your diet. Dietary sources Iron: red meat, beans, eggs, lentils, dark leafy greens and whole grains, quinoa, fortified low sugar, wholegrain breakfast cereals. NB The uptake of iron from food can be reduced by the calcium in milk and the caffeine in drinks, so If you eat breakfast cereal, try to serve them it with berries or fresh orange juice to get the Vitamin C that enhances iron absorption. Dietary sources Vitamin C: berries, citrus fruits, red peppers, broccoli.
- Increase fluids: Don’t underestimate your needs for hydration during winter weather. Running in cold weather may impact hydration status in several ways, mainly because you are less aware of sweat evaporation and you may not notice your body’s thirst signals as clearly as in hot weather. Secondly, if you are not dressed properly for colder weather, your body may have to work harder in order to maintain its core temperature, which results in the body losing more fluid through respiration and sweat. If you are overdressed in cold weather, your body may be producing more sweat than you realise. Additionally, the cold, dry air from outside and also from indoor heating can lead to an increase in fluid loss. To ensure you maintain your hydration try making drinks more appealing by swapping cold water or milk for warm, think post run protein shakes made with warm water/milk, tea, bone broth, soups. Not only are you likely to drink more but warm drinks actually help you recover your body’s internal temperature after a cold winter run.