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Cold Weather Running Tips

Posted Nov 10 2010 6:22am

This guest post is contributed by Kitty Holman, who writes on the topics of nursing schools . Click here to contact her directly.

My running consistency has historically taken a nosedive in the winter. Not only do I hate the constant runny nose and the sweating under long sleeves and long pants, but I get this really annoying hollow pain in my lungs accompanied by a coppery taste in the back of my throat when running outside in the cold. I thought I was alone in this regard until I starting seeing blog after blog of winter runners reporting similar experiences. Not wanting to lose my running momentum in the winter, I sought out some best practices for cold weather running.

I got a great tip over at Competitive Runner to not include cotton in your cold weather running clothing. “There is no place for cotton in the winter runner’s wardrobe: it absorbs water and will cause you to get chilled if you slow down or the wind picks up,” the site reads.

I wear plenty of poor man’s cotton when I run, as I hate paying more for moisture-wicking products, but if I can avoid the way my body feels under my current attire, I’ve decided that a few investments in some solid winter running clothing will be well worth it. It appears the sweat that cools us in summer running becomes the enemy in the winter time, when we’d rather not be any cooler. The ticket here is to wear moisture-wicking clothing as your innermost layer, and layer on top of that what you wish. I prefer fleece; if I get too warm, I can peel it off and tie it around my waist.

Over at Runner’s World , I learned why I feel the burn in my lungs on winter runs. Turns out experts have learned the dry, chilly air can really irritate and parch your upper airways. The 2009 article quoted Kenneth Rundell, director of respiratory research and the human physiology lab at Marywood University in Scranton, Penn. as saying that runners were better off doing longer, slower runs instead of going for speed in the winter time. Those who do want to run fast and hard in the cold should run with a face mask or neck gaiter over the nose and mouth, Rundell recommended. By doing this, the air going into the runner’s lungs is warmed and runners avoid that burn that worsens with every breath. Another expert quoted in the article advised runners not to blow into their gloves to warm their hands because your breath contains moisture that can remain in the glove fibers and actually make your hands colder!

(As for me, I plan to not only run at a slower pace, but to use the neck gaiter anyway to evade the dreaded burn. My focus: maintaining strength in winter and speed in summer.)

Another thing we must be mindful of when running in the winter is staying hydrated. I think I’ve come to associate taking in plenty of fluids with hot weather running, but our bodies need fluids just as much in the winter as they do in the summer. Finally, if the wind chill is too much, it might be a good idea to substitute the day’s outdoor run with an incline treadmill run or a run on an indoor track.

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