Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cold Weather Workout Tips

How Cold is Too Cold to Workout Outside?

(Updated December 2023) When Old Man Winter arrives the days get shorter and the temperatures plunge. Early morning or evening outdoor workouts are during the coldest parts of the day. 

Good News

You don't have to give up those outside sweat sessions due to the bone-chilling temperatures. Susan Paul, exercise physiologist says it’s generally safe to work out outdoors until the thermometer hits a freezing 20 degrees below zero. However, you need to be properly outfitted. Also if you are a beginner don't start training for your first 10K during the dead cold of winter.

Cold Weather Workout Rules 

If you follow these simple cold weather workout rules you will minimize injuries and boost your performance.

Cold Weather Layers

Wear layers of moisture-wicking (dry-fit) fabrics that will keep you warm and dry.

I also add a jacket that is easily removable. When I first start out running I'm pretty cold, but once I get to full intensity my body warms up pretty quickly. Then I shed the outer jacket and tie it around my waist.

Cold Weather Workout Gear

Cover your mouth  wear a face mask or scarf wrapped around your nose and mouth - this will help heat and moisturize the air before it hits your lungs.

Protect your extremities with gloves, mittens, wool socks, headband and a snug-fitting hat.

Socks This is probably the hardest one for me.  My feet get cold very easily, so I like to wear layers of thick socks.  This is hard to do when you go running because there is only so much room in your running shoe.  So, I choose a dry-fit thin hiking sock for my first layer.  For my second layer, Nike makes a dry fit running sock that keeps my foot pretty warm.

Gloves You have many choices in gloves. I usually wear a thinner glove when it's not as cold - like the gloves on the right. But when the temperature dips lower, and the wind picks up, I reach for a thicker pair - like the ones pictured below.  Also the gloves below have the touch fingers which allow me to use my iPhone while running, a definite plus. 

Take it Easy It's better to run long and easy when the temperatures are frigid then a speed workout. This is not the time break your distance record or beat your best time.

Warm Up Since it will take more time in the cold weather, allow your body to warm up thoroughly to avoid the risk of injury. 

Remember winter running is about maintaining miles not the speed. If you are running longer distances you can break your runs up to avoid being in the cold too long. After your run make sure you avoid the post-run chills by getting out of your sweaty clothes and drink something warm.

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