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Fit Life Advice 5: Hydration & Nutrition in Winter Running

It may be an actual advantage to go running in winter – as long as you do it appropriately in regards to clothes and exertion level – as it is cold, and you don’t have to sweat so much.

During much of the year, and the times when we typically are more likely to go out, body heat is an issue. After all, in warmth and heat outside, there comes a point when you just cannot shed any more clothes… or heat. (We’ll get there.)

Not so in winter.

The problem that may arise, though, is that not sweating makes it easy to forget about drinking.

Food intake may seem more of a natural necessity – winter typically makes us want to eat more, anyways – but may also be an issue.

Well then, how do you handle hydration and nutrition?


Point 1, water.

Well, just remember to bring some if you go running for a longer time. Below an hour, you’ll need little if anything, but above, you should bring some and drink somewhat regularly.

I’d usually advise on not drinking on a schedule but by learning to listen to yourself, but in the cold, it may be a good idea to see about some regularity.

In What Bottle?

What you may want to really think about, though: What water bottles are you going to use?

Soft flasks are nice, as are hydration bladders… but anything with an easy bite valve can easily have water freeze in the valve and get clogged that way – and then, that’s it with your water supply, whether you get thirsty or not.

So, use a bottle that you can screw open or get something insulated and keep the valve near your body (and run the risk of getting water on you…)

You could also consider using a thermos bottle and bringing some hot water or tea.

It adds weight, you have to be careful with the temperature (not to burn yourself when the liquid’s still hot), but it can of course help with warming you up and making you comfortable.


When it comes to eating, most runs don’t actually need any intake of calories; you’ve got enough energy to get through some training.

If you’re out for long enough, though, then you should bring something… and you’ll get into the usual current debate, as you have two possibilities:

The easy and widespread approach is to go for carbs. Sugar. Bring sugared tea or, if you don’t want to mix hydration and nutrition, bring some dried dates, energy bars or gels, etc.

In the winter, you’ll just want to find out how well whatever you want to bring is edible when it freezes…

The approach that more and more people are considering is to get into a fat-burning state.

It fits well with the cold as fatty foods (check out pemmican) have been the usual cold-weather nutrition… but for advice on that, find yourself a trained nutritionist who wants to work with you and is into that approach; I’m not qualified to get into details on that and would advise against using online recommendations for that.

And what's your take?