How to Run in the Cold

By Dr. Howard Schaengold
December 18, 2013
Category: Cold Weather

If you love to run, you are out in all types of weather. Sun? No problem. Pouring down rain? You can handle that. Chilly temperatures? That might slow you down a little, but you still want to get out there and rack up some miles. The trick is to prepare properly for running in cold weather.

Humans are warm weather animals, and we can’t function as well in cold temperatures without some protection. While you can run in the cold, you may not be able to do it efficiently. The experts at Runner Academy point out that your time per mile will probably not be affected unless temperatures drop below freezing. However, your lungs may not use oxygen as easily in the cold. Your muscles won’t contract as well, and more energy will be used to keep your body warm, leaving less to put towards movement. Your body will burn fuel differently, so you may run out of energy sooner.

Some tricks to handle running in cold weather are to eat enough carbs before you start, dress in layers that wick the sweat away from your body, and make sure your socks and shoes will keep your feet warm on the road. Once you are outside, warm up by starting slowly and gradually increasing until you are up to speed. If it’s windy, run against the wind first, because you may not have as much energy to face it at the end of your run. Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you are too chilly, you can always turn back and decide to hit the gym that day instead. After a run in the cold, warm up with some hot soup and a warm shower, and then finish by gently stretching out your muscles.

The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic specializes in sports medicine, so if running in cold weather has caused an injury or other problems with your feet, contact us for a consultation. Our Sammamish, WA office also serves Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond. Call (425) 868-3338, or request an appointment online.