Eastern Canada, home of XACT in Montréal, QC, is prone to some pretty harsh cold snaps in the winter. Temperatures can easily dip to -25C (-40C with wind chill) but it is by no means a reason to not get outside and enjoy your favourite endurance sport.
For many, winter running itself is the challenge to be conquered, and for others who are signed up for a Spring marathon, training in the winter is a must. And just like any time of the year, fuelling those long runs is the key to success and having fun!
Nutrition and Hydration for winter Running
Stick to your regular nutrition plan. You will burn only a few more calories due to heat loss in the cold. Shivering does burn many more calories, but hopefully you are dressed for the task!
Avoid ‘freezing’ foods! Many granola bars and gels hardened up in the cold weather. Right to the point where chewing will be a workout in itself. FRUIT2 and FRUIT3 have been tested all over the world including the Candian Arctic by our very own Ray Zahab and Jen Segger. Even in these crasy temperatures they keep their softness. The FRUIT2 bars that is .. Ray and Jen are abviously as hard as nails .. never soft!
Keep your fingers warm. Opening gels and bars is next to impossible if you are one of those who gets ice white fingers that go numb (also known as Raynaud’s disease). If you can keep your hands warm you can more easily open your gels / chews.. and maybe more importantly, that zip pocket where you stashed your house keys!
Change your gel / chew pocket. Rather than using your jacket pocket, your mid-layer or leggings may have a stash pocket that will be slightly warmer! Just think about ease of access versus the need to keep food warm. Pro tip: chocolate doesn’t want to get too warm ;)
Just because you are not sweating like you might in the summer, it doesn’t mean you will not dehydrate. Your intake may be lower but hours on the trails without fluids will affect your performance. Aim for 250-500 ml per hour depending conditions.
Some like it hot! ... their hydration that is! Why not try a hot drink in your flask rather than the usual water. This will give you more time before your bottle freezes and doubles as a nifty hand warmer. Just don’t pour straight from the kettle, give it a moment to cool. Coffee or tea works and add a little sugar for sweetness and extra carbs.
Alternatively, mix in a hydration powder, the sugars and salts will bring down the freezing point of the water.
Some hydration gear manufacturers offer insulated bottles. This can be handy for keeping drinks cool in the summer too!
Want the elctrolytes but not the carbs in your fluids? Check out electro2 sport hydration tabs with highest-in-class sodium content
I try to pay particular attention to what I eat and drink before leaving because I know when it’s cold, I tend to not eat as much whether due to cold hands that are unable to open packages, lack of thirst or inaccessible food.