Cold Weather Running: How To

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October 29, 2011 by Imprint Fitness

Nuts!!! Who wants to run in the cold?

Most of the time it just plain beats the crap out of a treadmill, it’s as simple as that!

I could run here all day long!!

OK, so NO treadmill… What do I need to know?

Run, in the forest, Run!!

Just a few things to keep it fun instead of frigid and if you live in Colorado Springs you just might be able to enjoy running regularly all year long!!

So here we go,

Pay Attention to Temperature and Wind Chill – If the wind is strong, it penetrates your clothes and removes the insulating layer of warm air around you. Your movement also creates the same condition because it increases air movement past your body. If the temperature dips below zero or the wind chill is below minus 20, find alternative indoor cardio.

Run Into the Wind – If you head out into the wind, it will be at your back at the end of your workout, when you’re sweaty and could catch a chill.

Check With Your MD – Cold air can trigger chest pain or asthma attacks in some people. Before braving the elements, talk to your doctor if you have any medical conditions or concerns about exercising outdoors.

Dress in Layers – Start with a thin layer of wicking material, which removes sweat from your body. Stay away from cotton because it holds the moisture and will keep you wet. Sweat is bad in winter, as water robs heat from your body up to 25 times faster than trapped air does. An outer, breathable windbreaker type layer will help protect you against wind and precipitation, while still letting out heat and moisture to prevent overheating and chilling. If it’s really cold, add a middle insulating layer, such as polar fleece.

 Protect Your Hands and Feet – As much as 30% of your body heat can escape through your hands and feet. On mild days, wear thinner wicking gloves often called runners gloves. Mittens are a better choice on colder days because your fingers will share their body heat. You can also tuck disposable heat packets into your mittens. Add a wicking sock liner under a warm polar fleece or wool sock, but make sure you have enough room in your running shoes to accommodate these thicker socks.

Avoid Overdressing – Dress as if it is 20 degrees warmer outside than it really is. You’re going to warm up once you get moving, so you should feel a little bit chilly when you start your run.

Now that's cold!!

Don’t Forget Your Hat – Body heat is lost through your head. Wearing a hat will help prevent heat loss. When it’s really cold, wear a face mask or a scarf over your mouth to warm the air you breathe and protect your face. The buildup of condensation will also aid in preventing a dry throat caused by breathing cold air.

Don’t Stay in Wet Clothes – If you get wet from rain, snow, or sweat in cold temperatures, you’re at an increased risk for hypothermia, low core body temperature characterized by intense shivering, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and fatigue. If you’re wet, change your clothes and get to warm shelter as quickly as possible. If you suspect hypothermia get emergency medical treatment immediately.

Watch for Frostbite – On really cold days, make sure you monitor your fingers, toes, ears, and nose. They may feel numb at first, but they should warm up a few minutes into your run. If you notice a patch of hard, pale, cold skin, you may have frostbite. Get out of the cold immediately and slowly warm the affected area. If numbness continues, seek emergency care.
Get Some Shades – The glare from snow can cause snow blindness, so wear sunglasses (polarized lenses are best) to avoid this problem.
Remember Sunscreen – Sunburn is still possible in the winter because the snow reflects the sun’s rays. Protect your lips with lip balm, too.
Stay Hydrated – Despite the cold weather, you’ll still heat up and lose fluids through sweat. Cold air also has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration. Make sure you drink water or a sports drink before, during, and after your run.
Take It Easy When It’s Frigid – You’re at greater risk for a pulled muscle when running in the cold, so warm up slowly and run easy on very cold days. Save your HIT workouts for milder days or indoors.
Be Visible – If you have to run at night, wear reflective gear and light-colored clothing. Dress in bright colors if you’re running in the snow.

Laslty – Respect your surroundings and all who dwell there. Be mindful of where you are and leave wildlife to its own, generally speaking they don’t mind you much as long as you go about your business.

ENJOY!!!

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