Winter Hydration

It’s cold outside. Don’t forget to drink! What? Isn’t hydration a hot weather concern? It can be easy to forget, but you lose a lot of water when it’s cold too.

Cold, winter air is dryer than warm, summer air. Nature likes a balance, so that dry air sucks more moisture from your body. That steam rising from your forehead after a run, that’s moisture evaporating from your skin. That mist when you exhale, that’s moisture getting sucked out of your lungs. Your dry nose, mouth and skin in the winter, that’s the result of dry air sucking moisture from your body. You need to replace that water loss.

Also, when you bundle up from the cold, your body is sweating underneath those layers. If you’re wearing tech fabrics, that moisture is being pulled away from your skin and evaporating in the cold, dry air.

Her are a few tips to manage your hydration when it’s really cold.

If you’re using a hydration bladder and tube system, run the tube inside your outer layer and, more importantly, keep the bite valve inside clothing to keep them from freezing. If the bite valve does freeze, rub it between your hands, or put it next to your warm skin, covered by clothes, until it melts. You may need to take frequent, small sips to keep the valve from freezing.

If you’re using a bottle and hip pack, put the bottle in upside down. This helps insulate the opening from bitter cold. Be aware that if you’re snowshoeing, you may be kicking snow up your back and into your bottle holder. In this case, even an upside down bottle will freeze. So, pull your jacket over the top of the hip belt to keep the snow out. If it does freeze, you can pour water from the bottle (perhaps cold, but presumably unfrozen) over it to break up the ice. If necessary, you can hold the opening in your warm mouth until it starts to flow. If you’re carrying a handheld bottle, it may be necessary to take frequent, small sips to keep the opening from freezing.

Sports drinks tend to have a lower freezing temperature than plain water. Even something like mixing a gel in your water bottle can help keep it from freezing.

Don’t let the cold air fool you. It’s dry and sucks the moisture right out of you. Remember to hydrate well to keep your runs fun and races successful.