Hints and Tips: The Importance of Winter Hydration

There is ice in the puddles, as you make the final push to the top of the climb. You take a swig from your bottle, and the Slush Puppie style energy drink inside suddenly numbs your mouth; you gasp for air, and quickly return the bottle to its holder. It's cold, anyway, so you don't need to drink... right?

Wrong. Hydration and drinking are just as important in the colder months. Indeed, winter is one of the times when we often get hydration seriously wrong, and end up training with heavily depleted water levels, damaging the effectiveness of that training in the process.

During the windy and cold conditions of winter, it is possible for you to lose almost as much fluid through perspiration and breathing, as you do in the hotter months. Those winter layers might do a good job of soaking up your sweat, and taking it away from your body, but you are still perspiring. The strong winter winds also do a good job of drying out your skin and depleting water levels. Oh yes, and those clouds of foggy breath on a clear winter morning, serve as a good demonstration of how much fluid you are still losing through breathing. Hydration is still key.

I've learnt this lesson the hard way... that feeling of lifelessness on the bike after a few hours, despite eating well; or that persistent headache after a hard winter training session. It is frequently a lack of fluid that brings about these feelings.

This winter, I've made a really conscious effort to get my hydration more on track. If I finish a training ride with fluid still in my water bottles, something has gone wrong.

I've continued to use OSMO Active Hydration, as I did back in the summer, ensuring that I hopefully keep an optimum electrolyte and salt balance whilst out training. The salts in the OSMO mix also help to reduce the chance of your water bottles freezing in really Arctic conditions.

To further overcome the problem of Slush Puppie bottle syndrome, I've also taken to using insulated bottles, such as the Nathan Fire and Ice Bottle. The benefit of these, is that you can fill them with warm water when you set off, and they'll stay warm for a decent time. In fact, mixing up the orange flavour OSMO with hot water makes for a nice comforting drink; alternatively you can use weak black tea.

The message is simple, though: keep drinking in winter; it will help to make your training far more productive and comfortable. Just remember, "only a one percent decrease in body weight, caused by dehydration, will start to impede sporting performance". Drink up.


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