Winter burr – its all too easy to peek outside & think dark/cold/wet – but think Rocky he showed us when he trained in the cold snows of Russia for his bout with the hulking Ivan – training in cold weather can pay off provided we follow some common sense basics:

  • Dress in layers – the body generates a lot of heat even during cold weather. It’s important to dress to keep the muscles warm initially but be able to let them cool down faster when we get going. Wear layers that will help you keep warm but which you can peel off as you run to help maintain a balanced temperature.

  • Wear a cap and gloves – when it comes to feeling the cold our head and our hands suffer the most. Wear a warm hat or a baseball cap to protect your head against the cold and make sure you wear gloves to help keep your fingers protected from the excesses of the cold.

  • Warm up well – our warm up routine is even more important when running in the cold than at any other time. While the temptation may be to just get going, resist it. It is important we warm up our extremities to get our bodies used to the temperature and boost circulation.

  • Remain hydrated – running in cold weather drains almost as much moisture from our bodies as running in hot weather. It is important we stay hydrated during long runs or prolonged periods of exercise.

  • Do not get sweaty and chilled – the moment we stop we should wrap up to help our bodies remain as warm as possible. Sweat compromises the skin’s insulating properties and makes it more likely that our body will experience deep chills that will generate a cold stress response (i.e. dampened immune system).

  • Keep an eye on the wind – the wind chill factor is separate to what the temperature reading is on the thermometer. Wind blows away the thermal layer of heat that emanates from our bodies as we run and cools us down faster, making it hard to maintain core temperature. That’s why a windy day with five degrees centigrade temperature can feel subzero when we are out in it.

Just because it’s cold outside does not mean we need to hibernate. With some common sense precautions we can continue to train and use the lower outside temperatures to boost our body’s immune response and our overall fitness levels. Running in cold weather is probably one of the easiest ways there are to maximize the benefits we get from exercise.

Sheila Rose Endurance Runner