Dream It has strong recommendations for anyone taking part in activity to be realistic about current fitness levels and exercise prudence to avoid injury and muscle damage.
For example, taking a few weeks away from regular exercise over the holidays or joining a training plan without the necessary build-up can be dangerous.
It is also essential after a period of exercise is to assess your diet and how you fuel your training. Alcohol consumption should be limited and you should eat plenty of good quality protein, fish and leafy vegetables, focusing on micro nutrient density rather than calories. For example, extra carbohydrates are not required in advance of shorter runs as your body will utilise existing energy stores and adapt to not having an immediate delivery of fuel from external sources. Instead, carbohydrate in the form of pasta, rice or an energy gel should be taken before a long or pace run.
Hydration is an area that can often be overlooked in the winter as many people link dehydration to exercise during the warmer months. The reality is that extra layers worn in cold weather can actually increase sweat rates, potentially beyond those experienced in the summer. Taking on around 400ml of electrolyte drink before each run will provide the body with essential electrolytes to help stave off cramp, fatigue and other conditions related to dehydration.
Cooler temperatures can cause additional stress on the body and increase recovery time, but making changes such as splitting longer training sessions can mitigate this. You can also avoid injury when it’s cold outside by moving your route off of the road and onto the grass, using a treadmill or taking a long, hilly walk instead. With many training plans recommending cross training, a spin session or trip to the gym can be a great replacement for a weeknight run in difficult conditions.
With recovery time compromised, minimising muscle damage and encouraging adaptation is key to ensuring ongoing strength for intensive training, protein should be taken after short runs to help your body adapt to increased training demands and is also critical following a long or pace run to help your muscles recover and rebuild.