The change in seasons is usually a beautiful thing… that is, as long as it doesn’t mess with our running routines. Hello winter (Seinfeld glare). Depending on where you live, winter can be a real drag. You see, for many, winter brings with it a significantly increased chance of running injuries, as well as, a much higher likelihood of being relegated to the treadmill. So, here at Complete Runner’s Nutrition, we thought it was timely to write a post on our top 5 tips to reduce the upheaval on our lives that is winter. We hope these tips will serve you well this winter season.
Stretch More = Running Injuries Less
Running tends to stress our muscles into becoming stiff. This is actually a good thing because it allows our muscles to store energy that helps us run with less effort. However, the mixture of cold weather and possibly overdoing the work out can lead to over-stiffness and injury. Our suggestion? Take more time before and especially after to stretch out your muscles properly. You’ll be happy you did. The act of stretching out your muscles prevents the soft tissue in your legs from becoming too stiff thereby allowing for more flexibility and nimbleness.
Work on your core.
The more stable and balanced your body is while running, the less chance there is of inadvertent running injuries from slipping on wet running surfaces. Strengthening your core is easy but it does take some effort and time. Here are a few of our favorite Core strengthening exercises to help keep us running strong:
Plank – Lie flat on your stomach. Put your weight on your forearms and toes. Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for as long as you physically can.
One Leg Squats – Just like it sounds. Remember to stay upright and ensure your knee doesn’t collapse inward. 30 reps each side.
In addition to core strength hip strength is surprisingly the most important aspect to maintaining proper balance. Specifically, your Gluteus Medius (the muscles on the sides of your hips) is the only muscle in your body that controls your side to side balance. And, it’s also your biggest help for running on unstable icy conditions. Strengthening this muscle is critical to reduce your chances of injury on potentially slippery conditions.
Side Lying Hip Abduction – Lie on your left side with your hips stacked and knees straight. Slowly and methodically lift your right leg up to 45 degrees while maintaining hip stability. Hold it for a couple beats. Then slowly lower it back down. Do this for 30 repetitions then switch to the other side.
Make sure you have the right gear.
Gear can make the difference between a very uncomfortable run that will leave you on the verge of running injury and having one of the most zen-like running experiences of your life. Here are a few of our most important suggestions:
Wear socks that keep your feet warm and can easily soak up all the wetness.
Don’t wear shoes with mesh or as little mesh as possible. You’ll lose a significant amount of warmth out of it. Also, if you happen to run through a puddle, that mesh will allow more water into your shoes. Also, ice grips can be a lifesaver if your environment calls for it.
Don’t feel embarrassed to wear multiple tops/ bottoms/ gloves as needed. You just want to make sure you aren’t feeling too warm when you go outside. With more night hours, reflective clothes are important too.
Modifications To Stay On Your Feet
Wintertime brings with it more running injuries prone terrains. One misplaced step and you’ll be out of commission for the entire season. Try to be more aware and cautious of your surroundings. It’s a good idea to shorten your stride and focus more on form and distance than speed and intensity. Also, try not to land on your heel as this has been shown to make it more likely for your foot to slip out from under you.
Take your vitamins for runners and eat nutritious meals!
Certain vitamins are even more important during the winter months. For example,
- Vitamin D is critical for runners and has been shown to be easily deficient when there’s less sun out.
- All of the B vitamins are especially needed for additional energy to get you out of the house when all you feel like doing is snuggling on the couch with a hot chocolate. You know what we’re talking about.
- Vitamin E & C for boosting your immunity after running long stretches in the cold winter days/nights.
- Quercetin and zinc can help your system avoid colds/ coughs
In addition, malnutrition can easily lead to fatigue which can cause poor form and the running injuries that come from it.
Have any other comments, tips or strategies to help us run strong during the winter? Email us at Tim@CompleteRunnersNutrition.com. We’d love to hear from you and possibly share it in a future post.