Running Shorts Winter 2023
by Rick Hart
Brrr, It’s too cold outside?
“You’ll freeze your lungs”, “you’ll catch a cold”, “you’ll get pneumonia”, these are just a few of the things we runners hear when others hear about our cold weather runs. Also, the usual line “I knew you runners were crazy but that is totally nuts”. So, anyway, there must a point when it’s in fact too cold outside. The question is at what temperature point is that?
Natalie Markland D.P.T. told Runners World “getting outside and being in the cold can actually make your immune system more resilient, as long as you wear enough layers. As an additional benefit, the exercise endorphins can help offset SAD (seasonal affective disorder) symptoms that frequently accompany cold weather seasons.”
John Castellani, an exercise physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine says that dressing properly for the weather is the biggest thing. Wear a good base that gets sweat away from the skin, a middle layer that keeps you warm, such as, wool or fleece, then top it off with a wind and/or water resistant jacket as needed. Castellani further says, “people
have walked to the poles” “For the most part, cold weather is not a barrier to performing physical activity.” He also confirmed their belief that you can not freeze your lungs.
The American College of Sports Medicine conducted a study of frostbite and determined that it is not much of a threat at 5 degrees Fahrenheit if you keep moving and cover your head, ears, hands and have proper footwear. I think they are assuming you are wearing a shirt and pants, lol. They did discover, however, that the chances of frostbite becomes serious at -5 F and extremely
serious at -17F. They also learned that people with lung, cardiac or circulation issues are more at risk of frostbite. Medical advice is that if you have lung or heart issues talk to your doctor before any outside winter activities. Wind chill temperatures should be considered when determining how long you will be outside.
Kathy Butler, an USA Coach and 2 time Olympian, points out that she has organized group runs in temperatures under 10 degrees, has observed that the most common errors runners make are after the run. Here is how to avoid those mistakes;
1) When your run is finished, get inside to warm up ASAP and get a warm drink! Sounds like she was promoting our YRRC group runs!
2) Bring a set of warm and dry clothes that you can change into.
3) Dehydration is very real in cold weather because you lose a lot of moisture through your breath. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Another important issue about winter running is ice and snow. The chance to slip and fall is very real. Wear trail shoes, spiked shoes, yak-trax or what whatever makes your footing feel safe and secure. Also, as always, pick a safe place to run! My advice is to be smart, know your limits, be flexible in your training and use alternative training when necessary. If you have a cold, bronchitis, sore throat, fever or other issues you probably should avoid cold temperatures so you don’t make them worse.