TRAINING IN WINTER
October: the clock still has not reached 06:00 AM and in the streets of our city many runners can be seen, training and preparing themselves for a competition. Since some years, the phenomena of running has been increasingly growing, becoming (as stated by the surveys of the Ministry of Sports) as the second sport in Chile, not only in terms of quality and participation, but also in preparation, tecnification and profesionalization.
But what happens in the winter months? Does this rigurosity in training continue?
The keys that explain the consolidation of this sporting activity are easiness to practice, low cost and simple technical execution, as only a couple of good running shoes and the initial breaking of the movement inertia are enough. (Later this inertia will be maintained and empowered by the endorphines, natural substances produced by the organism that generate pleasure and comfort).
Having in mind the results of the last survey on habits and physical activity performed by the National Institute of Sports (IND) in 2012, more than 60% of the people that engage in physical exercise do so in public places, whether closed or open. The temperature, thus, is no small matter. Training in winter at 6 AM is a complication not only due to temperature, but also because of the air.
Essentially, during the summer there is a higher availability of time, whether because of the lower working duties or the better use of the daylight, which also favors the mood. The scientific evidence shows us that light is relevant for the mood of everybody. We know, among other things, that a reduction in the hours of daylight increases a sense of relaxation: tranquility and calm, but also melancholy and sadness. And there is also evidence that the increase in clarity contributes to activation, whether in a positive sense (happiness) as negative (anxiety). Therefore, running would act like a benefactor of these situations.
Another type of research that support the influence of this factor are those that study the relationship of the season changes in our emotional and affective status. Chronotherapy has shown that the light and temperature variations are decisive even in the urban environment. For instance, in cities like New York it was observed that half of the analyzed people lost part of their energy in autumn and winter, 47% gained weight in that time, 31% slept more and another 31% los interest in social and sporting activities. Among the surveyed who declared a certain reduction of energy in a certain season in the year, about 50% felt like that in autumn and winter, and only 12% in summer.
This phenomena is what has been called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This syndrome, which usually appears between the last days of autumn and the first days of winter, and which usually lasts until the following spring features a state of depression and lethargy. SAD seems to be related with the need of carbohydrates in the organism: the affected people suffer episodic attacks of depression combined with a craving for carbohydrates. Even though they sleep a lot, they feel their dreaming is not completely reinvigorating. They feel drowsy during the day and that is why they feel difficulty to focus. But as soon as spring comes in, temperatures rise and there is more daylight, they recover their energy and creatitvity, while their craving for carbohydrates is reduced.
It appears that during summer there is a better space to increase distances and the volume of training. Therefore during winter we should, in as much as possible, recreate the feelings and environment that is produced during summer in order to not decrease our training.
Rodrigo A. Cauas E.
Coach-Sport Psychologist Clínica Las Condes
General Director EMD Psicología & Coaching Deportivo