Nutrition and Hydration for Winter Endurance Sports

Eastern Canada, home of Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend and xact nutrition, is prone to some pretty harsh cold snaps in the winter.  Temperatures can easily dip to -25C (-40C with wind chill) but that’s no reason not to get outside and enjoy your favourite endurance sport.

For some, winter running itself is the challenge to be conquered. For others training in the winter is a must. Like any time of the year, fueling properly for those long runs is key to success and having fun!

Whether you are a seasoned winter runner or an occasional one, we’ve partnered with xact nutrition to offer you tips for winter running success.


  1. Stick to your regular nutrition plan. You will burn only a few more calories due to heat loss in the cold.  Shivering does burn many more calories, but hopefully you are dressed for the task!
  2. Avoid ‘freezing’ foods!  Many granola bars and gels harden up in the cold weather—to the point where chewing is a workout in itself.  FRUIT2 and FRUIT3 have been tested in the Antarctic and keep their softness.
  3. Keep your fingers warm.  Opening gels and bars is next to impossible if you are one of those who gets ice-white fingers that go numb (also known as Raynaud’s disease).  If you can keep your hands warm you can more easily open your gels . . . and maybe more importantly, that zip pocket where you stashed your house keys!
  4. Change your gel pocket.  Rather than using your jacket pocket, your mid-layer or leggings may have a stash pocket that will be slightly warmer!  Just think about ease of access versus the need to keep food warm.


  1. Just because you are not sweating like you might in the summer, it doesn’t mean that you will not get dehydrated. Your intake may be lower, but hours on the trails without water fluids will affect your performance. Aim for 250-500 ml per hour depending conditions.
  2. Some like it hot!  Their hydration, that is.  Why not try a hot drink in your flask rather than the usual water.  This will give you more time before your bottle freezes and doubles as a nifty hand warmer. Just don’t pour straight from the kettle, give it a moment to cool. Coffee or tea works and add a little sugar for sweetness and extra carbs.
  3. Alternatively, mix in a hydration powder, the sugars and salts will bring down the freezing point of the water.
  4. Some hydration gear manufacturers offer insulated bottles. This can be handy for keeping drinks cool in the summer too!