Winter in Belgium

Many people use winter and cold weather as an excuse to skip their usual outdoor activities such as cycling and jogging. I agree that cold weather can be an issue but it’s nothing you should be afraid of. For me, keeping my feet warm is the biggest challenge when I wanted to train in really cold weather back in Belgium. By really cold I mean -5°C and colder. However, I wouldn’t call myself an average person when it comes to feeling cold. My capillary blood vessels are narrower than they normally should be.
Of course, that influences my body and how it responds to cold weather.

Winter in Australia

It’s a lot easier to keep hands, nose and ears warm because you can rub them or heat them with your breath. Keeping feet warm is a bit more complicated. Take care of your feet.
I have written down a list of tips to take in account when enjoying outdoor activities in winter.

  1. Make sure your feet are warm before you go outside:
    The easiest option is to perform a warm-up routine while you are still indoors. It will warm up your muscles and improve blood circulation. But remember – you have to start your outdoors workout right after the warm up while your body is still warm. If you wait and let your body to cool down there will be no positive effect. If you can’t or don’t want to perform a warm-up routine another option is to warm up your feet by putting them in a bowl of warm water. You can also rub your bare feet with your hands to expand capillaries and improve blood flow.
  2. Buy a pair of good socks:
    I use regular socks, but my mother is ecstatic about alpine skiing socks. They are quite long and made from a material that retains heat and absorbs moisture very well. Of course, you can simply put two pairs of regular socks on, but make sure that you have plenty of space in your footwear otherwise you will restrict blood flow and have the opposite effect.
  3. Keep your legs warm:
    Warm socks won’t help if you don’t protect your legs and ankles from the cold weather. Make sure you wear warm underwear. It will not only help to keep your legs and feet warm, but also it will protect your knee joints. Cold weather and exposed knee joints can lead to serious health problems. People who already have arthritis should be even more careful. Also make sure that your ankles are well covered. Cover the top of your socks with warm underwear so that there are no exposed areas of skin. The cold weather can inflame your tendons and cause tendonitis.
    If it really cold outside opt for long bike pants, and if it is raining, switch to Mountain biking instead of the road bike.
  4. Use old newspapers in case of emergency:
    When I was little my grandfather used to wrap a newspaper around my feet before I put my boots on. It helps to keep the feet warm, because paper retains heat and absorbs moisture. You can use old newspapers if you have no other options available. I have also heard that some Nordic skiers put newspaper in their pants to protect their manhood from the cold winds.
    Newspaper works really well on the chest as well, especially before a big down hill section. If it rains a lot, you can wrap your feet (covered by socks) in plastic bags.
  5. Most importantly – buy appropriate bike booties, gloves and running shoes:
    Even if you follow the above mentioned tips carefully they will have no effect if you don’t use appropriate booties on the bike. Special designed winter running shoes (don’t run in your 200g flats) or cycling booties is a must-have if you want to fully enjoy winter activities during early mornings. Keeping your fingers and hands warm will also keep your enjoyment of the session at its best. Invest wisely!
  6. Conclusion:
    These are my top picks how to keep my feet warm. Dress according to the weather conditions so that you can enjoy your hobbies and other outdoor activities whether it’s summer or winter.
    Also have spare clothes to get change straight away after training, or your winter training will turn into a series of nasty viruses!