It's that time again. The time when the leaves crunch, we can still see our breath well into the "heat" of the day, and for some - We're looking at you Alberta - the pummeling siege of snow and arctic chill is under way.
It's shoulder season. Winter is coming - fast.
This means it's time to start shifting your fueling and hydration practices to accommodate cooler temps, moisture sucking winds and shorter daylight hours. So, we've called on a few of our athletes to share some of their habits and practices for switching gears to get you fire up for the flurries.
Julie Toole - RDF Ambassador: Cyclist, Skier
"I’ve been known to say that I love nothing more than July days of long rides in shorts and short sleeve jersey - you know it’s going to be hot and there is no question about what kit to wear. But, I also do really enjoy winter outdoor activities and the added challenge or sorting out gear and clothing.
Even though it might seem that you are sweating less, hydration and nutrition are just as important in cold weather. Nobody wants to bonk in -25 degree weather on an isolated ski trail! Staying fueled during activities is definitely a bigger challenge for me in the winter. I have Raynaud’s in my hands and feet so as soon as the temperature drops below 10 degrees I start wearing liners in my cycling gloves. Then, I just keep layering and wearing bigger gloves while riding or skiing to try to keep my hands warm. This makes it WAY harder to grab food out of pockets and open wrappers, etc."
Raynaud's (ray-NOSE) disease causes some areas of your body — such as your fingers and toes — to feel numb and cold in response to cold temperatures or stress. This occurs when smaller arteries that supply blood to your skin become narrow, limiting blood flow to affected areas (vasospasm).
Julie's tips for beating the temp drops:
- Pre-open wrappers and cut bars into small bites that are easy to grab and put in your mouth with mittens on.
- Keep snacks close to your body (inside pockets of a jacket or in sports bra) to keep them from freezing - Maple Syrup does not freeze!
- Think about the moisture content in food: the greater the moisture content, the more likely to freeze solid and be really hard to eat. Nobody wants to break their teeth on a rock hard bar. Higher fat content prevents freezing too. I have had good success with Picky Bars in the winter, they stay relatively soft and remain delicious even in extreme cold. Although likely an unpopular choice, fruitcake is one of my favourites during the holidays.
- To keep drinks from freezing, use insulated bottles on the bike or an insulated drink belt while Nordic skiing. Hoses on hydration packs are generally too exposed and freeze, consider wearing the hydration pack under a jacket and keeping the hose tucked in.
- Start with HOT Skratch Labs drink mix, the Matcha Lemon flavour is really great warm, the Fruit Punch is also surprisingly delicious!
- Be ready with a recovery snack for when the activity is done. I will often make an insulated bottle of the Coffee Skratch recovery to leave in the car at the trail head and drink as soon as the skis come off.
Click here to learn more about Julie.
Tanya Deeks - RDF Ambassador: Triathlon & Multi-Sport Coach
"I love training in the winter. Surrounding yourself with the beauty of fresh white snow is truly magical. However, training in cold weather can bring on many challenges from how to dress, choosing the right kind of footwear, and how to properly fuel. Getting the right amount of fluids, electrolytes, and carbohydrates is just as important in the winter as it is in summer. No matter the time of year, insufficient fueling can lead to a poor workout and poor recovery. On the nutrition front not much changes in the cold. You are still sweating, you are still losing electrolytes and water, and you are still needing carbohydrates to fuel harder workouts, just as you would in the summer. The length and intensity of your workouts should dictate your nutritional needs, not the temperature (unless it’s super hot but that’s another story).
Thankfully the days of frozen energy bars that require an axe to break apart are behind us. We are fortunate to have some great products that will ensure we can optimize performance even in the bitter cold. My go to is Skratch Hot Apple Cinnamon Hydration Drink. Made with boiling water, it will stay warm in an isolated bottle or hydration pack for quite a while depending on the temperature outside. That coupled with maple syrup based gels will ensure I get the energy I need without freezing or getting too thick for easy consumption. And what about after the workout? If you are like me and daydream about food during your workout, there is no better reward than a hot chocolate made from Skratch Chocolate Recovery Drink to warm you up and prepare you for the next training session."
Tanya's tips for beating the temp drops:
Don't underestimate the dehydrating power of cold temps
- Base your hydration and nutrition needs on the length of your training session, not on the temperatures you are training under.
- Use an insulated bottle or hydration pack with hot liquids
- Use maple syrup-based gels that won't freeze or get too thick in cold temps
- Plan a satisfying recovery snack, like a Skratch Labs Chocolate Recovery-based hot chocolate
Click here to learn more about Tanya.
What are your go-to tricks and tips for battling the winter elements and keeping up the stoke and crush? Email us with yours to firstname.lastname@example.org, or DM us on Instagram for a chance to be featured in an upcoming segment on Cold Weather Sports Fueling.