Running In Cold Weather

Is it too cold to run?

Not if you dress correctly and don’t stay out too long.

On cold days, you'll lose a reported 10% of your heat from your head, so keep it covered. Here's what you'll need for your head and neck:

Thermal hat

Neck Gaiter or Bandana


Layering is the key for your mid-section. Your base layer should be made from a synthetic wicking material, such as DryFit, Thinsulate, Thermax, CoolMax, polypropolene, or silk. This will wick the sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and warm. Make sure you don't wear cotton!

Your second layer should be an insulating material, such as fleece. Some fabrics suggested for your second layer: Akwatek, Dryline, Polartec, polyester fleece, Microfleece, Thermafleece and Thermax.

Your third, or outer layer, protects you against wind and moisture (rain, sleet, snow), It's a good idea to wear a jacket with a zipper for this layer, so that you can regulate your temperature by zipping it up and down. Suggested outer layers: ClimaFit, Gore-Tex, Microsuplex, nylon, Supplex, and Windstopper.

You can lose as much as 30% of your body heat through your extremities, so it's important to cover those hands. Wool running gloves or mittens are fine unless it is raining or snowing, then you’ll need a waterproof, or at least water resistant light glove.

Your legs generate a lot of heat so you don't need as many layers on your lower body. You can usually wear just a pair of tights or running pants made of synthetic material such as Thermion, Thinsulate, Thermax, Coolmax, polypropolene, and/or silk.

Never wear cotton socks (in cold or warm weather) when running because they won't wick away the moisture, leaving your feet wet and prone to blisters. Instead, be sure to wear a good pair of wicking socks made of fabrics such as acrylic, CoolMax, or wool. 

So, go play in the cold, just dress for "success." Have fun!


How NOT To Gain Weight This Holiday Season

Steve at Nerd Fitness

"I'm not going to tell you to forgo drinking, skip anything the slightest bit unhealthy, or miss out on your parties; I still want you to have fun and do the things that make you happy with the people you love."

1. Half workout is a million times better than no workout. Don't put it off because you don't have time...use the time you have to do SOMETHING! Any exercise is better than none.

2. EVERY MEAL COUNTS! Just because you ate a crappy breakfast this morning does NOT mean the day is ruined. Just because you're going to eat birthday cake this afternoon does NOT mean you get to eat whatever the rest of the day.

One bad meal does not make you gain weight. It's when that one bad meal is followed up by a week of bad meals that things get ugly really quickly.

3. Have a support team to keep you accountable - Don't do it alone! Have somebody that you can text or call each day; form an A-team and check in daily with your supporters.

4. Choose awesome. Don't give in to the temptations. You are strong. There is no reason you can't do this. You can remain healthy AND have fun.

5. Be smart and prepared:


  • Bring something healthy to the party.
  • Be okay with being the "weird healthy" one. It's okay to say no to cake.
  • Choose your alcoholic beverages carefully.
  • Save the unhealthy stuff you want to try til the end.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!



Last week we determined that functional strength training offers benefits for endurance athletes - if performed specifically for the sport, and correctly depending on the time of the season, lean muscle mass can be increased, resulting in a stronger, more efficient athlete, with an increased endurance capacity.

When we periodize for our physical training, we usually have Preparation, Base, Build, Peak and Recovery Phases. While you may know these by different names, basically when we start training for a new season, we prepare to train, working back into each discipline slowly and gradually. As we reach the Base phase, we are building a solid base for what is to come, which usually involves intensity. After the Base phase, we Build on our fitness base to become quicker and faster.

All training programs are designed for the athlete to reach a Peak at their key race or races. Following a successful triathlon season, the athlete takes time off to allow the body and the mind to refresh and recover.

Periodization for lifting would be much the same. One would start lifting Basic weights, sets and reps to become accustomed to lifting (Preparation Phase). As the athlete adapts to the weights, they would move into the Strength phase, building a strong muscular base, which assists in injury prevention and more strength for building power (Base Phase). The Power phase is very important for triathletes, as power is speed and strength combined…very ballistic movements that can cause injury if not performed with a solid base and very carefully (Build Phase). Once into the race season, the athlete should continue with a general Maintenance program (Peak Phase), followed post-season by a Recovery phase.

Periodization for strength training is created by adjusting the key variables to your training program: Volume, Intensity, and Frequency. How many days, how many sets, how many reps, how much weight, how much rest between sets, and how fast you perform each exercise are all variables that need to be adjusted as the training season progresses. By changing these variables in regular increments throughout your training year, you'll force your muscles to constantly change how they work.

So what should you do when? 

During the Prep Phase, which should last around four weeks, perform a full-body workout two to three times a week. You’ll be performing light weights at higher reps. Much of this can be body-weight exercises, designed to build your strength without offering much chance of injury. Perform 2-3 sets at about 15-20 reps.

In the Base Phase, which should last 8-12 weeks, you'll perform 2-3 sets of each exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions, 2-3 times per week. The load should be challenging, but not at a maximum intensity level. Throughout the base phase, you can increase the number of sets, reps and weight to continually challenge your muscles. Remember, you want to be BUILDING muscle.

During the Build Phase, which should be another 8-12 weeks, tailor your program to exercises that mimic swimming, biking and running. Incorporate more explosive exercises, such as plyometrics, which will aid in the development of power. Perform these workouts two times per week, with 2-3 sets per exercise. Perform 3-6 reps per set at close to your maximum output. This will be challenging. Work all out and recover fully before moving to the next set.

During your competition phase (Peak Phase), which can be anywhere from one month to six months long, you'll want to taper off the frequency and intensity of your workouts. Complete 1-2 strength training workouts per week, with no more than two sets of 10-12 repetitions per workout. Use a moderate level of intensity during this phase.

When the season is over, take some time off. Rest, play, and take time to let your body recover. You’ll be back into pre-season training before you know it…stronger and faster, and ready to improve even more in the season to come!


8-5-2-1-0 Guidelines To A Healthier YOU!

With the plethora of diets and weight loss schemes available on the market and internet these days, it's a no brainer as to why we're all confused about how to take care of ourselves! But, taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle doesn't have to be overly complicated.

As a dietetic intern, I had the unique opportunity of promoting a wellness program called 9-5-2-1-0 for Health! © in Winchester, VA. The purpose of the initiative was to prevent and tackle the issue of childhood obesity. 8-5-2-1-0 for Health! © is the adult version of this same initiative and the numbers represent some simple health concepts to improve your overall well-being:

8 - Aim to get 8 hours of sleep per night.

5 - Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

2 - Limit screen time to 2 hours per day (TV, computer, etc).

1 - Aim to get 1 hour of physical activity per day.

0 - Eliminate intake of sugar-sweetened beverages.

These numbers are a great reminder that health and nutrition don't have to be as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be! Ditch the diet books and complicated calorie counting for a more sustainable and far-reaching approach. Keep these simple principles in mind each day can help you to move in the direction of living a healthier lifestyle, improving your overall well-being and quality of life and preventing long-term disease risk.

For more information on the 8-5-2-1-0 for Health! © program for adults (or 9-5-2-1-0 for Health! © for youth), check out the Northern Virginia Healthy Kids Coalition at: http://tippingthescales.net


Should Endurance Athletes Strength Train?

Can strength training really help an endurance athletes’ running, cycling and swimming? Most multisport athletes appear to be uncertain. Is strength training more beneficial in the long run than heading to the pool, track or road? Will there be massive weight gain and increased muscle size? And if an athlete decides they should lift weights, how does one make time in their schedule for lifting AND other training? 

While not an easy question to answer, research has shown proper training, and periodization of that training, offers several benefits for the endurance athlete. Below we offer answers to these questions and others related to endurance training and strength training.

Strength training for endurance athletes has been shown to offer several benefits:

  • Strength Gains
  • Joint Stabilization
  • Reduced Risk of Overuse Injuries
  • Building and Maintenance of Bone Mass
  • Increase in The Force The Body Can Produce
  • Aids In Weight Loss
  • Increase in Flexibility

All athletes gain from the above benefits, so what needs to be different for endurance athletes?

Basically, all endurance athletes need power more than pure strength (power = the amount of work performed per unit of time, or force x speed). If you’re stronger, you can generate more force, and as the equation states, power is dependent on strength and speed. So, you can see that it is absolutely necessary to develop functional power (it’s no good working on a 1 rep max power clean) as well as working on strength in addition to speed. Power allows the endurance athlete to move strongly and quickly. The more functional power you have, the greater your stride length, stroke glide and pedal cadence.

Athletes can gain power from many forms of weight training but today functional exercises are all the rage. Luckily, this type of weight training offers great benefits to endurance athletes.

Functional exercises are essentially movements that follow the movement patterns used in sport—they don't work muscles in isolation. Good examples would be body weight or one-legged squats, dynamic push-ups, box jumps, overhead ball throws, etc. Hill and stair running, all out swimming sprints and bicycling uphill or in heavier gears are other examples of exercises that functionally help the endurance athlete.

In addition to functional strength, a strong core is vital in almost all endurance sports. True core strength is the ability of the core muscles to hold your body in a strong stance protecting your spine and allowing your major muscles to work more effectively in performing their task. If you have a strong core, you will move very efficiently, saving energy for your given activity—this is the key to performance in endurance events. Recommended core exercises for multisport athletes include stabilization exercises like planks, bridges, rollouts and hanging oblique raises.

So, what have we learned? Strength training can be an extremely effective tool in your endurance training. Just remember to lift specific to what you're looking to achieve.

One thing is for certain, with a functional training program that has been designed to specifically enhance performance, you’re not going to get huge muscle mass gains, you won’t get any slower and you won’t get less flexible. In fact, you’ll actually become faster due to increases in strength, power, economy and movement patterns, and you’ll get more flexible due to the integrated nature of the training.

And the time it takes to weight train each week? Well, given the benefits listed above, isn’t it worth a few extra minutes per week if it will help you become stronger and faster?