With winter suddenly dropping down on us across nearly the entire United States, we need to shift gears and begin to strategize our running gear. Here are some tips for handling this big chill:
- Remember: Our Bodies Don’t Adapt To Cold. When faced with warm weather, our bodies make modifications to handle the added stress, such as increasing the sweat rate and number of heart beats per minute. No such adaptations are made to handle cold. That means you don’t benefit from spending more time out in the cold, as nothing will change. Get in your workout and get indoors!
- Cover Your Extremities. Hands, toes, and ears are usually the first to feel the pain of cold weather. That’s because the body stops sending as much warm blood to those areas in an effort to prevent cooled blood form coming back to your heart, which poses an even bigger problem. Compensate by making sure that you take care of those areas: wear warm gloves, consider adding layers of thing socks if you have room in your toe box, and keep your head covered.
- Feed The Furnace. It takes calories to stay warm. Don’t be a glutton, but for morning runs, make sure that you don’t go out to run without having eaten anything at all.
- Don’t Be Afraid. You will warm up, I promise. Three-quarters of the energy you generate during running is dissipated as heat; only a quarter actually powers your movement. This shouldn’t be a surprise; if you already have experience running in the cold, you know that no matter how low the temperatures drop, you end up sweating. So don’t be scared; just be prepared.
- Don’t Strip Off Clothes. It might be tempting to start taking off clothes when you’re running after you’ve warmed up. Resist doing this, especially at the end of your workout, if you’re still outside. You can cool down quickly, and suddenly feel chilled to the bone.
- Have Fun! If you’re properly prepared, winter running can be a wonderful experience. Forget your time goals and enjoy the change of season.