The Outdoor Athlete Winter Survival Guide

- Dan Pennington -

The OUTDOOR Athlete Manager

As the winter evenings start draw in & the days grow shorter, we can all be tempted to cancel the odd Outdoor Athlete session in favour of a cosy evening in or a morning lie in. So here is our Winter Fitness Survival Guide, with some valuable snippets of info and advice to keep you motivated over the coming winter months and help you to fight that temptation to cancel your session.

We are all well aware of the benefits of outdoor exercise, which is undoubtedly the main driving factor for the vast majority of our members, but did you know that exercising outdoors in the winter can supercharge your workouts and increase those benefits even further?

Here’s a little bit of research from the university of Aston to start off our guide, on the benefits of training in cold weather.

Boost your immune system

As winter’s grip tightens on all of us, bugs and viruses become common place and do the rounds, only a few escape without being hit by the common cold or flu.

Doing exercise will not only help you fight off any symptoms of a cold or flu but reduce the likelihood of you even being affected. Your immune system works harder and is more prepared to fight off foreign invaders and their nasty symptoms.

Great cardiovascular workout

Cold weather forces your body to work harder during training, and this also applies to your cardiovascular system. As the heart works harder to pump blood around the body during cold weather exercise, this invigorating workout helps to keep your heart health in tip-top shape.

Improves your mood and Mental Health!

Exercise can boost your mood at any time of year, but it has a particularly profound effect during winter, sending those all-important feel-good hormones soaring, and keeping the winter blues at bay. As well as being an effective mood booster and pick-me-up, getting outdoors in the fresh air in cold weather can also help replenish vitamin D levels in the skin.

Burn more calories

Think of a wintertime workout as a supercharged version of your normal outdoor session.

Why? I hear you cry.

Because whatever workout you do, the cold weather will max out your caloric burn. This is because the body has to work much harder to keep its core temperature regulated. As the body works to stay warm, the metabolism is kicked into overdrive and your body burns through more calories and fat.

Winter Training advice

Whether you’re a seasoned Outdoor Athlete or a new member facing your first winter season, it is essential to consider any changes you might want to make to your kit and workout wear to stay both dry & warm. Whilst some members can make it through the season in shorts and a t-shirt, this approach is not for everyone, so here is some advice, courtesy of everyone’s favourite, slightly grumpy (he’s not really) Outdoor Athlete instructor, Mr Wayne Scripps.

Key Pieces of Personal Kit for Winter

My advice on training over the winter months, would be the same as any other outdoor activity.

Hat, Gloves, and a Lightweight Waterproof Jacket

Essential items for the winter. All of which can be waterproof, but you will pay extra if you want breathability, as well as being waterproof. Breathability simply means the material allows sweat to be moved away from the skin, keeping you both warm and dry.

Sealskinz make great hats and gloves and are worth every penny. There are also some really good, affordable light weight waterproof running jackets available from Decathlon.

A good pair of trail shoes, and waterproof socks

If you can afford them, a pair of trail shoes are worth their weight in gold, both in terms of grip and comfort. But even if waterproof, water will always find its way in over the top, so a good pair of waterproof and breathable socks would be recommended if you don't like getting wet feet.

Sealskinz do great waterproof socks too. For Trail running shoes you can check out Innov8, and Salomon are good too.

A waterproof bag with a waterproof bag liner

In which you can place all devices and spare warm kit. Try and pick something comfortable with staps to go over both shoulders. Ortlieb are my favourite.

I would highly recommend having something warm and dry to change into once you’re finished, as your body will begin to cool down once the session ends.

A Few Last Words of Advice from Wayne Scripps - London Outdoor Athlete Instructor

· Layer up! If you don't want to start in t-shirt and shorts, think about wearing a couple of layers that you can take off and put in your bag once warmed up. Remember hands, Feet and Head are the areas where you lose body heat from.

· When dark pay attention to the ground you are moving over. Move swiftly but safely. It’s dark, the ground is uneven and will become slippery. If you cannot make out the ground directly in front of you as you move, slow down! Yes… even though we will be pushing you to move quicker :)

· Remember there is safety in numbers, so try and walk out of parks at the end of sessions in groups and look out for one another.

· And finally, most important of all. Embrace the weather! There is nothing better than getting through a session when the elements are against you.