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Cold Weather Running: Don’t Be Held Hostage By the Weather!

Posted Dec 14 2010 1:24pm

Generally, cold weather makes running easier.  Since there is less heat buildup, there is less body fluid lost, and the cool temperature makes running more invigorating.  When the mercury drops below 50 degrees F, however, you’ll have to start thinking of protective measures.

1. Wear a series of thin layers.  Close to your skin, you’ll want something warm.  Polypro is one of a series of winter fibers that keep the warmth close to the skin but allow extra heat and perspiration to escape.
2. Continue to add external layers, adjusting to the temperature and wind conditions.
3. Cover up all extremities with extra layering:  hands, ears, toes.
4. Men, wear an extra layer or two as underwear, as you need.
5. In extreme cold (when temperature or wind chill is below 10 degrees F), do not expose any skin if possible.  Even when there is minimal exposure, put Vaseline or other cold weather insulation/protection on any area which may incidentally be hit by the wind (eyelids, etc.).
6. Be sure to coat your shoes or use socks that insulate your feet.  Most running shoes are designed to let heat out and cold into your feet, which can cause frostbite on days colder than 32 degrees F.  Remember that you generate a significant wind chill effect on your feet as you move them through the running motion.
7. As you warm up through running, peel off each layer before you start sweating.  Too much sweat accumulation will freeze and cause problems.

Warm-ups That Take the Sting Out of Winter

1. On very cold days, bundle up and exercise for a very few minutes indoors.  You may walk, jog in place, use an indoor track or exercise on the machines (cycle, rowing, stair, etc.).  Before you start sweating, go outdoors and you’ll have a reservoir of warmth to get you down the road.
2. Start your run/walk going into the wind.  This allows you to come back with the wind.
3. If you start to get very warm, remove an outside layer of clothing or unzip your outer layer, if applicable.  A garment with long sleeves allows you to tie it around your waist or put it in your fanny pack – because you may need it later.
4. On cold days, pick environments where you could seek refuge for at least a few minutes if you need to.
5. On very cold or windy days, alternate between inside and out.  If you have an indoors facility, it helps to come inside when you start to get cold.  Exercise indoors only long enough to take the sting away – but head outdoors before you start sweating.
6. Don’t let yourself sweat because it is likely to freeze and leave you very cold.  Remove a layer or go outside before the sweat starts flowing.

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