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11 Winter Running Tips From Coach Bob Seebohar

You can’t let a little snowfall get in the way of your miles, whether you’re training for an event or just trying to maintain your fitness during hibernating season. We caught up with one of our coaches, Bob Seebohar, or Coach Bob as he’s known to Runwell. Coach Bob lives in Colorado, is accustomed to winter running and coaching runners how to prepare themselves for less-than-perfect winter conditions.

Three tips you give runners to help the long winter runs more bearable: 

1. Layer clothing and protect the extremities with good windproof clothing.

2. On snowy or icy conditions, winterize your shoes to increase traction.

3. On very cold days, limit yourself to aerobic runs outside. Higher intensity will cause more difficulty due to breathing challenges.

It's 20 degrees, you have a 16-miler. Are you doing the whole thing at once or breaking it up?

It depends on the goal of the run. If it is aerobic, then it is fine to do it all at once, considering you have clothing to protect yourself. If it is quality based, consider moving it indoors on a treadmill. Whenever the intensity of running is increased in the cold (like a race), it will be more difficult from a pulmonary perspective. Long, aerobic training runs in the cold are much easier to complete.

Some ways you stay motivated for your winter training runs?

Change the environment. Running in the winter is often times very peaceful but try new trails, roads and routes.

What are your thoughts on treadmill running during the winter? Do you suggest keeping it on an incline since it naturally does some of the work?

The treadmill is a great tool no matter the time of year. Some runners can do all of their runs on it while others dread it. In colder weather, I recommend doing any quality runs indoors on a treadmill. Be sure to place it between 1-2 percent incline to best mimic road conditions.

Can an extra cross-train day take the place of a training run if it's just too nasty outside? 

Absolutely. Cross training should be built into any runner’s program.  I like to recommend swimming, water running at high intensities, cycling or elliptical.  These cross training opportunities do not have to be too long but add some intensity for the cardiovascular benefits.

Does your diet need to change to compensate for the colder weather?

It really depends on the length of time that you are running outside. Generally speaking, no daily changes need to be made as long as you are metabolically efficient and stay hydrated throughout the day.

What do meals look like on training days? Ideal caloric intake?

There is no such thing as ideal calorie intake. Practice becoming more metabolically efficient and combine food sources of protein, fiber(carbohydrate) and fat together at almost every meal. Daily nutrition sets up training sessions to be great or not so great so put the time into your daily nutrition first and foremost.

Warming up. Do it inside or outside?

Both. Activation exercises and prehab can be done inside then progress to dynamics outside.

What are your go-to choices for on-the-go fuel and why?

Depends on the duration of the run. Usually, over 75-90 minutes will require fueling during a run and in that case, I prefer Generation UCAN for its sustained energy release and ease on the stomach (no GI distress issues).

Are runners more prone to injury in the cold weather? What are some ways to prevent injuries?

Absolutely. An extended dynamic warm up is always needed (I like to recommend at least 10-15 minutes).  

How do your water and fuel from freezing?

Keep a bottle underneath a few layers closer to your skin, behind your body, out of the wind.  Carry a hand bottle (this will sometimes freeze depending on the temperature).

About Bob Seebohar, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS, METS

Bob Seebohar is a nationally known board certified specialist in sports dietetics, a strength and conditioning specialist and a USA Triathlon Certified Elite Coach. He was previously the Director of Sports Nutrition at the University of Florida and most recently, a sport dietitian for the US Olympic Committee. In 2008, Bob traveled to the Summer Olympics with Team USA and was the sport dietitian for the Olympic Triathlon Team. He is part owner of eNRG Performance, a sports nutrition consulting company and elite multisport coaching, which provides endurance-coaching services to athletes of all ages and abilities.

Bob has an undergraduate degree in Exercise and Sport Science, a masters degree in Health and Exercise Science and a second masters degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. He is an accomplished writer having authored many books including “Nutrition Periodization for Athletes”, “Metabolic Efficiency Training: Teaching the Body to Burn More Fat”, “Performance Nutrition: Applying the Science of Nutrient Timing”, “Metabolic Efficiency Training Recipe Book”, “Sodium Loading Protocol for Endurance Athletes”, “Caffeine Protocol for Endurance Athletes”, and “ Neuromuscular, Dynamic and Functional Strength Training Exercises for Endurance Athletes”. He has also written many chapters for sports nutrition textbooks and produced the DVD, “Strength Training for Triathletes” in conjunction with USA Triathlon.


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