Merry Christmas / Happy New Year / Cold Weather Running
Well, Christmas came early for me! On the 18th of December I started running again after nearly 8 months of dealing with a fractured foot. Okay, so I’m easing into it, but a start is a start. : ) Of course, the timing could have been a little better since that weekend ushered in the coldest weather of the season (below-zero wind chills).
Anyway, enough about me, what I want to talk about is cold-weather running. Most of us don’t realize that cold-weather running is actually a whole lot tougher on your body than running in warm weather. Think about it. In winter weather, even trail running is a real pounding on your feet and legs as the ground is frozen solid . . . and how many times have you returned from a cold weather run and your feet are about numb?
So, what’s the big deal?
Well, it’s important not to run to exhaustion in the cold. First off, your form deteriorates. When your form deteriorates, instead of running smooth and clean, your feet start slapping the pavement — pavement that has NO give to it, no matter if it’s blacktop or trail or cement. Finally, because your feet are numb, you could be injuring yourself, but not even realize it because you can’t feel it.
Another reason to not run until your exhausted is that in warm weather, it’s not a problem to walk the rest of the way home. In cold weather, you stop running and in about five minutes, that sweat you didn’t even know you were sweating starts to feel colder and colder, and your feet move from numb to feeling like something like bricks stuck to the bottom of your legs. You’re never far from being in serious trouble if you’re running in 20 degree or colder weather and you push too far.
You may be thinking, Oh, I’ll never do that. Well, if you have a half-marathon or marathon you want to do this spring, are you going to tell me that when it gets cold, you’re going to blow off your long runs for a few weeks? Not if you want to actually finish the race!
So, what to do? Run with a cell phone, if possible — not to listen to music (because on slippery roads you need every chance you have to hear a car that’s sliding toward you), but to make an emergency pick up call. Also, if you have a zippered pocket, consider slipping in one of those “hand warmers” so you can activate them if necessary. But perhaps the smartest thing you can do is simply shorten your route and do laps so that you’re never too far from home . . . and when you’re tired don’t push it, just go home, strip down, take your shower, and recover! : )
Of course, what’s great about the shower, besides the blotchy red skin, is that the water FEELS hot because your hands are so cold . . . it’s actually really tough to figure out whether the water IS actually hot or it just feels that way because you’re so cold… worse is when the water feels hot to one part of your body and cold on another! : )
Well, I hope you all had a GREAT Christmas and that your New Year is filled with plenty of SAFE miles, some fun goals, and the blessing of blessing someone less fortunate. : )
Have an awesome run today!