Friday, January 31, 2014

Deep Freeze Running

I was talking to someone recently about the cold weather we are experiencing and how it makes me want to be a hermit. Originally from Utah he gently reminded me that cold is relative and that you NEVER have to shovel sunshine!  Having a new perspective on winter in South Carolina, it doesn’t change the fact that it is cold in January and February and that can impact your desire to exercise.

Researchers at Ohio State University found, not surprisingly, that we tend to lose some of our fitness during the winter as we tend to forgo exercise because of the cold temperatures.  While indoor cardio workouts have their place, I am an exercise purest and believe if you are going to put forth the effort to exercise, you might as well go all the way and head out doors , enjoying the brisk, fresh air.

Great! You made the decision to beat the cold and head outdoors. Here are some tips for surviving and enjoying a run in the deep freeze from Jeff Gaudette, the head coach for
To prepare for the cold, complete some dynamic stretching inside to warm up your muscles and to raise your core body temperature. Gaudette recommends five lunge variations – forward, forward with a torso twist, side, diagonal and reverse. I recommend throwing in some hamstring and hip flexor stretchs. Lastly, one of the best ways to raise your core temp before heading out for a workout is to do 50 pushups.  This will elevate the heart rate and engage your core, legs and arms that will increase body heat.

Be sure to dress for the elements. This will take some trial and error as you don’t want to be too cold or too warm. Keep in mind you want to dress for 10-15 degrees warmer than the temperature as you will build body hear. The first half mile to mile may be chilly until you warm up so dress for the remainder of the run. Dressing in layers is a good idea and tighter fitting clothing will retain more heat. I also recommend a hat and gloves as you can lose a lot of heat through your head and cold fingers are just no fun.

On windy days, start your run in the same direction as the wind.  When running into the wind you will generate more perspiration and heat working against this resistance. By saving this for the run home, you won’t get as chilled had you started out into the wind.

Enjoy the scenery.  Your landscape looks different in the winter so take advantage of enjoying Mother Nature. Although a bit tougher to do, I like running very early in the morning during the winter.  Not only is there usually less wind but the stars in the sky are extra bright and there is a peacefulness that comes with the cold, not to mention the sense of accomplishment that you conquered the outdoors and the cold while others sat on the couch!
Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. 

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