Similar to hot summer running (which we had plenty this year – especially every Tuesday night in September!), the cold winter temps bring about a different challenge.
Be cautiously optimistic during these cold winter months as the body needs to adapt during the first couple miles. It’s a good idea to walk thru some drills before heading out the door so the muscles and tendons loosen up a little. You don’t have to run the drills; literally walk through the exercises to begin firing the muscles. Below are videos to provide examples. You should also perform these exercises inside before heading out:
- Walking quad stretch: http://www.monkeysee.com/play/
- Walking knee hugs: http://www.monkeysee.com/play/
- Walking A-skips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Interval workouts provide a greater challenge. While we all want a quality workout, keeping the core temperature up is more important than achieving optimal times. Below are a couple tips to successful cold-weather workouts:
- It’s better to overdress to ensure the body stays warm during the jog/ recovery portion. This will prevent core temperature from falling while the body is sweaty and walking/ jogging in the cold
- Minimize the amount of time between warm-up and the first interval as well as the final interval and the cool down
- Adjust your goal interval times to the weather. Some people run better in the cold; some people in the heat so there is no hard-and-fast rule of how much time should be adjusted but spend the next couple weeks determining your individual range and plan accordingly
A key element often forgotten during these months is hydration. Because exercise does not often cause immediate thirst, it is important to remember to hydrate. Another contributing factor to dehydration is the dry heat created by the recirculated air – whether at home or in the office or both. Continue to hydrate as you would during warmer months.
Lastly, folks often ask about breathing in cold air. There should not be a big difference between warm and cool weather, but in very cold situations, make a conscious effort to pull in air through nose (in addition to mouth). Folk wisdom and/or science says that air going through nasal passages is warmed more before it hits your lungs.
While most of us wish winter would not come, it’s inevitable so preparing now will go a long way to successful training in January and February. Happy holidays!