Ode to the Winter Weekend Warrior
There are 168 hours in a week, and for the weekend warrior—those who spend their lunch breaks perusing online forums for beta and daydream about faraway ridgelines on their commute—the 48 hours between Friday night to Sunday night are sacred.
It’s always a challenge to cram as much as you can into just two days, but the winter months present some additional challenges. Besides fewer hours of daylight, you’ve got plenty of no-go weather windows, the possibility of avalanches, and, of course, colder temps can make it tough to spend an entire weekend outside. But, as any weekend warrior knows, it’s never impossible. Fuel your adventurous side for winter excursions with these five tips.
It’s extremely important to know how to layer when spending extended periods of time outside in the winter. We know, it’s tempting to just bundle up, but once you’re on the move, you’ll sweat almost as much in the winter as you do in the warmer summer temperatures.
Choose layers with a good warmth-to-weight ratio, meaning that they’ll insulate well without being terribly heavy. Materials like wool and down have excellent warmth-to-weight ratios. In general, you should plan to wear a wicking baselayer to move moisture away from your body. This should sit comfortably next to your skin. (Wool and synthetics are great.) Over that, you’ll want an insulating mid-layer, like down or fleece, depending on the temperature. You’ll also want to bring along a waterproof shell in case things get wet.
Wear or carry these layers, and you’ll be much more likely to spend a full day outside. Remember, it’s okay to start off a little chilly—that way, you won’t have to immediately stop and shed a layer once you’ve gotten warmed up.
Get your systems dialed
It’s never fun to have to stop and rummage through your pack, but that goes double for cold weather, when you’ll likely have to pull off your gloves or mittens (not to mention how quickly you’ll get cold while you’re standing around.) If you get your gear super organized, it will cut way back on your number of stops.
As you’re planning your winter weekend adventure, it’s more crucial than ever to pack your bag with the essentials in mind. Think chapstick, sunscreen, and snacks in the front of your pack (or, better yet, in a hipbelt or jacket pocket), and stash extra layers right where you’ll need them, at the top of your back. Decide on a hydration system—will it be cold enough that you’ll need to insulate your water bottle?
If you’re usually a morning-of packer, consider getting everything together a day or two before your trip. That way, you not only capitalize on some extra sleep (critical in the winter months, when it’s tougher to get up in the dark), but you’re also less likely to forget something important—and in colder winter temps, even something small can make a huge difference.
Fuel for adventure
The components of a good winter nutrition plan resemble the materials you’d need to build a fire. Start with kindling: simple carbohydrates, like candy, hot chocolate, and refined baked goods. These can be digested quickly and are great for a quick boost. These foods lack the nutrients you need for sustained activity, so don’t plan to use a ton.
Next up: sticks. More complex carbs, like bread, pasta, and dried fruit are still fairly easy to digest and provide fast energy, so you’ll want to add plenty of those.
What sustains you over the long term in cold weather, though, are the "logs," also known as fats and proteins. Think cheese, nuts, meat, and butter. These take a longer time to digest, but they’re also released slowly into your body and thus keep your energy up over a prolonged period.
The most important thing to remember about winter nutrition, though, is to pack food that’s actually appetizing to you. Sure, a chalky protein bar might sound like it’s better for you, but it doesn’t do much good if it just sits unopened in your pack—you’re better off with a candy bar you’ll actually eat.
Being a weekend warrior means your longest and toughest days are Saturday and Sunday. But if you can squeeze in a few weekday workouts, you’ll find that getting out during the winter will be much easier.
Up your cardio game by doing a few weekday runs each week, whether it’s at lunch or before or after work. If you’re short on time, do some speed intervals (for example, pick up the pace for one minute for every four you jog) or a hill workout (ten repeats of a short, steep hill at maximum output)—something that’ll give you more bang for your buck.
You’ll also reap major endurance benefits from strengthening your core. This can mean a quick 10- or 15-minute workout two or three days a week, using a kettlebell (or even an empty plastic juice or milk jug filled with water or sand) to do lunges, squats, and presses. Throw in a few crunches or leg lifts and you’ve got a solid workout in no time!
Do your homework
No matter how much planning you do, there are still conditions outside of your control and it’s important to know when to throw in the towel.
Have some backup plans in mind for weekends when the weather is just too cold or avalanche conditions are especially dangerous. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean a day at the gym—it can also mean skiing at the resort as opposed to the backcountry or snowshoeing a flatter trail than you’d originally planned. Best of all, those consolation-prize activities will have you in better shape for your next big outing.
If you plan things right, you’ll find there’s really #NoBadWeather, even in the winter. With fitness, nutrition, and some planning on your side, you’ll be more prepared for almost anything.
Originally written by RootsRated for Marmot.