It’s the coldest time of year, but runners are resilient in getting in their training. Some pride themselves on shoveling lanes off a track, while others build mental strength on a treadmill. With freezing temperatures, cold rain, and snow (in most, but maybe not all parts of the country), it’s a little challenging to get out the door, let alone worry about post-run nutrition. It’s more tempting to sit by the fire. However, taking the time to care about nutrition will help you recover quicker and get out the door easier. Below are three winter nutrition tips to help you fuel well, and a couple recipes to warm your bones after a chilly run.
Start slow. Just like your car needs to warm up and get the frost off the windows, your body needs to warm up before it can get moving. When you let your body warm up properly, it can metabolize quicker and more efficiently. It signals your body to burn fat first, before burning through glycogen stores. This is great training for the marathon! If you usually take 20 minutes to warm up for a workout, try running 30 minutes instead. Or, on an easy run, if you warm up in a mile, give it two to three more miles.
It’s easy to not feel as thirsty when it’s cold. Who wants iced water when they are stepping out into ice cold temperatures? However, drinking water is still important for quick recovery and, yes, it is still possible to become dehydrated when it’s cold! Dehydration causes stiff muscles, and with cold temperatures, you’ll feel extra stiff without taking care of hydration early in the day.
While it’s tempting to take a hot shower right away and forget recovery, plan ahead instead. Bring warm clothes to change into post-run and stash a thermos of homemade hot chocolate with whole milk. Make sure to get in a 200-calorie snack of carbs and protein; it will speed up the recovery process.Then after you warm up and take a shower, you’ll have time to prepare a proper meal.
Neely Spence Gracey, a top U.S. distance runner, trains in Boulder, Colo., where winters can get very snowy and cold. But, she’s investing time in fueling well and taking care of nutrition. Below is a recipe from her blog that her readers love.
“This delicious meal is great for any time of day,” Gracey writes in her blog. “Protein packed, full of iron, vitamins, and calcium-rich nutrients to boost your post-workout recovery.”
Sweet Potato Crust Recovery Quiche
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 large sweet potato (or two smaller ones) sliced very thin
- 4 pieces of cooked bacon
- 8oz chopped and sautéed mushrooms
- 1 bag (5 ounces) fresh spinach
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup milk (or substitute)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup shredded cheese divided
1. Preheat oven to 350. Thinly slice sweet potatoes and place in an oiled pie dish creating a circular pattern to cover the whole bottom and sides. Spray with oil and bake for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to med/high and cook the bacon. Using bacon drippings, sauté mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add in spinach, cover, and turn off heat.
3. In a bowl, combine all other ingredients and half the cheese. Add in the cooked mushrooms and spinach. Pour egg mixture into the baked sweet potato dish.
4. Sprinkle remainder ½ cup of cheese on top and crumble bacon, turn oven up to 375, and bake for 30-35 minutes. Let stand a few minutes to cool before serving.
This next recipe is from Sara Hall, a top U.S. distance runner and wife to Ryan Hall, who says her family loves to fuel with fish. It’s anti-inflammatory, full of omega-3s, and a great balance of protein and carbs. This dish is her recommendation for a nutritious winter meal.
Alaska Halibut Stew with Fennel and Orange
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic
- 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, unsalted
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, (if desired)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 4 Alaska Halibut or Cod fillets (4 to 6 ounces each), fresh, thawed or frozen
- 2 medium oranges, peeled and segmented
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 small French baguette, sliced, (if desired)
1. Lightly coat the bottom of the Dutch oven or stockpot with olive oil. Turn heat to medium-high. Add and sauté the onion, fennel and garlic until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes, salt and garam masala. Cook, covered, an additional 5 minutes over medium heat.
2. Rinse any ice glaze from frozen fish under cold water; place fillets in stockpot, submerging them in the sauce; top with orange segments. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes for frozen seafood or 2 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Turn off the heat and let seafood rest in liquid for 5 minutes. Sprinkle on dill. Serve stew with baguette slices.