In the five short minutes it took to register for the two races involved in the epic Boston to Big Sur, my spring training regimen was essentially set. At the time, it seemed like a good idea—training for two spring marathons just 13 days apart has the power to coax you out the door during ice storms, heavy snowfall, and other weather conditions a Midwest winter can throw your way.
But this morning, as I piled on layer after layer of clothing and gazed out at a foreboding sky, I seriously questioned my sanity. And, I wondered how in the world I was supposed to keep my ever-important fuel from freezing while I was out on the road for two to three hours. (Before you head out, plug in some weather stats using our app find out what you should wear.)
Luckily, this is not my first rodeo when it comes to long runs. I have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to winter fueling strategies.
Here are some suggestions you can use while you’re out on the road this winter:
1. Whether you are carrying a bottle in your hand, on your fuel belt, or leaving a sealed bottle in your mailbox, start with warm water. There’s no need to add ice when your surroundings are covered with it.
2. Add some electrolyte tablets/powder or, better yet, choose a sports drink. Either of these options will help you to stay hydrated—you do lose fluid even when it’s 10 degrees out—and the added salt and sugar lowers the freezing point of the beverage. It’s the same tactic your town employs when using beet juice or salt to melt ice on roads.
3. If your fuel freezes easily, keep it on your body. Items like bars, chews, blocks, and beans tend to become hard as a rock in the cold, and there’s nothing quite like trying to bite into one of them when you’re tired and in need of a carbohydrate boost. If you keep these items in your pocket, they’ll stay warmer and you’ll lessen the odds of breaking a tooth during a wintery run.
4. Cozies aren’t just for adult beverages. Use them to keep your fuel insulated while it’s stashed in a protected place, like your mailbox or on your front stoop.
5. Many municipalities shut off water fountains in winter, so have a seasonal hydration plan in place. You might try stopping by your house or a friend’s to fuel up. (Note: Stopping by home only applies to those focused enough to leave once they’ve fueled. Do not go inside if you’re easily persuaded by friends/family/the couch to cut your long run short.)
Try java-flavored gel and instead of balking at the temperature and texture, imagine yourself drinking an iced cappuccino on the beach. For some runners, this tip works best early in the run, when their mood is light and their blood sugar hasn’t plummeted. For others, this tip works best when they are nearly delirious with fatigue and they are ready to believe just about anything! (Here’s what you need to know about energy gels.)
6. Wear your fluid on your back in an insulated pack. Many manufacturers offer winter running/skiing/insert-activity-here packs that come with an insulated hydration tube. If you go this route, you can kill two birds with one stone as you solve your “where should I stash my fuel” dilemma.
Runners, I hope these tips help you stay hydrated and fueled during long winter runs. I’ll be thinking of all of you as I pile up the miles while dreaming of the spring racing season.
Who says you have to limit your hiking trip to the closest national park?
Summer has a way of inspiring us to get a little more active than usual — often because we can take more of our activities outside.
Summer is meant to be fun, not painful or itchy, and certainly not deadly.
Enjoy summer more than ever by eating smart as the temperature rises.