Despite the awful weather, the strong-willed runners always maintain their workout in the winter. But how they can keep a level of base fitness in this harsh condition? As a matter of fact, running in the cold is not difficult after you know five tips to keep yourself warm and run safely. Besides, you could understand why the cold-weather running beneficial for your health.
Four benefits of running in the cold
1. Burn harder calories
As long as you maintain your running routine in this season, it is inessential to worry about your holiday weight gain. Undoubtedly, the exercise physiologist -Tom Holland confirmed despite a seasonal slowdown of metabolism, running in the cold helps you to maintain a healthy weight. That’s why when you no longer exercise in the winter, you would likely to gain weight. For example, you can burn 400 calories just by shivering in one hour.
During the run, it releases more hormone resin which helps you desire more brown fat instead of white fat cells. And this brown fat is a reason why the cavemen who were found frozen in a glacier never get obesity. Specifically, a brown fat releases the energy and consume calories to make your body warm. In other words, you are more likely to avoid a risk of obesity when running in a cold.
2. Say goodbye to the flu
Don’t you believe that the cold weather running deters the flu? According to the Mayo Clinic, most of the cold-weather runners are found to have 30% increase in immunity to the flu. Also, you can gain many benefits when absorbing a generous dose of the vitamin D in the wintertime. Make sure to apply s a sunscreen after your skin exposes to the sunlight for 15 minutes.
3. Boost your heart rate
Excitingly, the cold weather running makes your heart work harder to keep blood flowing and lungs chugging. Despite an extreme weather, running regularly helps your heart distribute blood better. Also, it enhances a cardiovascular endurance that prepares you for a more serious workout in the near future. So, with a healthy heart, you could manage stress and avoid related injuries.
4. Raise your mood
Have you ever heard of a seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? It does happen, especially in the winter. As during sunny days, your body are stimulated to produce more serotonin by the sunlight. And this neurotransmitter grants you a stronger sense of happiness. That’s why a vast gray sky of winter days will likely to upset you.
However, an outdoor activity would light you up. Indeed, the journal Environmental Science and Technology posted about how you feel better when running. Mainly, it helps to increase your energy and lessen a possibility of depression. That's why you should do workout more often even though it's the wintertime.
How do you run in the snow?
In this extreme condition, your lungs would be dry out. Due to an inexistence of moisture in the air, you possibly crack your throat and lungs bleed out. Though running in the cold helps you burn more carbohydrates, consume higher oxygen at a given running intensity, it would reduce your core body temperature. As a result, your performance efficiency drops drastically.
Lawrence Armstrong at the University of Connecticut concluded that as your metabolic rate is higher than the previous status, your energy is less efficient correspondingly. Fortunately, you are able to avoid these negative causes of the physiological changes.
First of all, it is crucial to warm up in a toasty place. However, there is a minor downside when warming up before heading outside for the run. Because after stretching your body, you will get sweat. For this reason, you are likely to freeze when going outside. That’s why you should do an outdoor warm-up. Importantly, you should start warming up at very slow pace. And remember to warm up slowly and quickly until your muscles activated. After that, you can speed up the progress. By this way, you efficiently tear a tendon, muscle or ligament to run in the winter safely.
Run into the wind
Determining your direction when running on the windy days is indeed remarkable. You should run into the wind and turn around to have the wind blowing at your back on the way home. In fact, many runners have a habit of beginning the run with the wind at the back as they would not feel cold. So, until when they turn around to come back in their perspiring body, they absorb apparently the wind chill. So, take note of the wind’s direction. Otherwise, you would catch a cold.
Also, you could face a risk of slippery and fall on some ice when running in the winter. Here are four tips to help you avoid issues on the icy ground.
You undoubtedly aware how the ground slippery in the winter, hence you should control your run speed. Specifically, there is an enormous amount of inertia generated when running. It explains why you need a significant friction to stop or change direction. In order to do this, you have to impart an opposing force into the ground. And because an icy ground is an enemy of friction, you may get in trouble in changing the direction if you run fast. So, take care of your speed by running slowly.
It is the number of the step taken per minute during the run. Especially on slippery terrains, this adjustment plays a huge role in controlling your movement. For instance, when you take a big step (over-striding), your heels land first to prop most of your body weight. Hence, it increases a hangtime and wastes your energy. Also, because the heels rocket out in front of you, you would likely to get fall.
Meanwhile, a shorter stride is implemented by the first land of your midfoot will minimize the slippage risk. So, when you proceed a faster cadence, you encourage your mid-foot striking and increase a traction. It engages your lower calves in absorbing impact better. In other words, a rapid cadence creates lighter footfalls when running.
In case you are a beginning runner, your cadence should be set at 160 steps per minute. As for more advanced athlete, you can increase to 180 steps. And an average cadence allows professional marathoners taking is above 200 steps. So, clarify which category of runner you are to determine a suitable amount of cadence for your running efficiency.
As aforementioned, due to inertia in running, you have to generate a huge amount of friction to change direction. The steeper the change, the more resistance is required. That’s why you should not keep running in a straight line as it is hard to turn to right/left suddenly. So, by widening an arc when turning, you can offset this restraint force and reduce an amount of friction required.
Notes: As it could be dark, slippery and freezing, you need to consider four tips to stay safe while running in the winter.
- Prepare for a night run
Since it would get dark soon in the winter, you need to prepare reflective clothes and a flashlight for a night run. Besides, you should run in a safer neighborhood.
- Adjust your frequent interval
Even though the track is not plowed, you can regulate your speedwork by adjusting your usual interval into time. For instance, if you run 400-meter laps in two minutes, you could run on the road when doing an interval of 2 minutes.
- Avoid an ice trap
As you cannot use ice spikes when running on the paved, plowed surface, you should slow down your running pace, especially on icy areas that you’re unsure. Essentially, you should watch the area's condition on the first lap.
- Bring along your bottle water
Armstrong emphasized how the cold weather running causes a dehydration risk. Due to its low-temperature condition, a urine output tends to increase and diminishes your thirst. That's why you need to keep yourself hydrated for breathing and sweating.
Especially when there is no water supplied in the winter, you need to pack your own water bottle.
What do you wear to run in the cold?
Obviously, you need to keep track with the running routine to not fall behind in your training. But you may find a bit nervous to run regularly in this extreme condition. However, it is simple to get back on the route after as long as you put on right gears.
Firstly, remove your cotton sock as it is helpless for running in the cold. Then, pick a sock which matches your shoes. Besides, wool socks would keep your feet toasty when they get wet. As snow falling on you would melt, this type of socks helps to prevent your feet from the water. In case you prefer a synthetic wicking fabric, it is truly many runner’s go-to choices. Overall, pick the socks with right type and size to keep your feet warm and dry.
Read more: Best Athletic Socks for Running
During a short run, it is okay if your feet are in warm-but-wet conditions. As for this serious weather, you need the shoes with water-resistant uppers like a Nike Flash line. Or you could count on the Gore-Tex waterproof shoes. Another shoe option which provides a built-in gaiter and keeps the snow off your ankles is the GearJunkie.
In case you are looking for supreme shoes to run on packed snow, the Yaktrax with its rubber harness, steels coils, and small spikes would please you. And because these specialized shoes are worn out quickly, you should use them in the winter only. Meanwhile, you could wear regular shoes when a spell of weather is a little chill.
More layers for the winter running
You could make your own favorite layer from a variety of outfits. And no need to pay for an expensive running jacket as a few supplements of the garment would be helpful. Surely, you would not want to be overheated in casual warm clothes. Hence, you may want to get rid of a parka. Also, you should pick the running gear for 30-degree which is the same as the one used for 50-degree day when you're not exercising.
While a long-sleeved T-shirt and a tank are enough for a chilly day running, you would need a sweatshirt or a light jacket in this cold weather. Surely, a well-equipped jacket has to be windproof, waterproof and visible at night. And it would be greater if there is a zipped pocket to store items. And here is a basic layer: an undershirt, a long-sleeved warm layer, and a jacket. In case you do not mind spending more buck, a wool base layer is a good choice.
Are you keen on wearing a running short for your winter run? If a yes from you, then it’s time to use your synthetic leggings. Importantly, you should ignore a cotton legging which is better to use on a dry chill day. Also, remember to pick a form-fitting one that helps to prevent a cold air entering. Besides, a layer of two pairs or a fleece-lined one would be your ideal running tight. In case you nervous that your butt may get cold, just add an outer layer of a short. As for of men, you could go for an underwear with a front windproof panel.
You should thank an ear warmer and a headband as it helps to stop heat escaping from your head. Also, a knit or fleece hat would help to keep you warm. Moreover, with a cheap pair of gloves that are windproof and insulated, you could stay warm despite the frigid days out there. You also creatively do some layer with your mitten gloves. Besides, wearing a face mask or a fleece-lined bandana would avoid you from being frozen on windy cold days. And to keep your neck from exposing to a cold air, tie a scarf. Regarding your eyes protection, you could wear sunglasses to cover them.
Read more: The Best Winter Running Essentials
Do you burn more calories when you run in the cold?
Firstly, based on the review which was studied at the Naval Medical Research Institute by Thomas Doubt, you burn a considerable amount of energy when exercising in low-temperature. As a matter of fact, running in the cold requires you to produce excess lactate to supply oxygen for consumption. Indeed, you will breathe in a higher amount of air to gain sufficient energy and to maintain a given pace in the extreme conditions.
Secondly, due to a less powerful muscle contraction, your muscle fiber would twitch faster and requires a higher lactate. Likewise, your body have to work harder to regulate the core temperature.
Moreover, during the cold weather running, instead of relying on fat energy, you would exploit more carbohydrates.
So, three provided facts conclude that the outdoor running drains your energy faster.
How do I stay warm in cold weather?
After understand how the chilling mechanism and your body’s built-in thermoregulatory work, you can figure out how to stay warm and safe through this winter.
Firstly, as you will lose heat whenever your body contact directly with something cold, you need to wear layers. This stage is how you insulate yourself against a heat loss. You should remember this layering: the thinnest base and the densest one on top. Especially, the base layer needs to be long and thick, alongside with wool socks to prevent you from losing heat. On the outside, you should wear a wind-waterproof and breathable layer. Overall, try to enclose yourself to be insulated from the cold’s effects.
Secondly, watch your chills closely to know whether it’s time to move in someplace warmer. Truly, it happens when your skin temperature drops.
Thirdly, always energize your body with sufficient food and water, especially in the winter. Indeed, your body can handle the cold well when you are well-fed. It provides energy to keep you warm in a cold situation. Besides, a warm beverage helps to raise your core temperatures, such as a hot milk or a brand-laced hot toddy. In contrast, you should resist yourself from drinking alcohol which would drop your core body temperature quickly. Overall, to withstand a chill on the bitter days, empower yourself with full meals and toasty drink.
Also, you should notice how age affects your ability to fight off the cold. Particularly, people over age 60 are less likely to generate enough heat, whereas children age below two cannot raise their core body temperature.
Notes: Two worth considering tips to stay warm in cold weather
Turn on your ceiling fan
It sounds weird when turning on a fan in this kind of weather. However, by running your fan counter-clockwise at its lowest setting, you could push the warm air which is rising to the ceiling back down.
Block a gap under your door
Due to this gap, the cold air from outside could enter your house. Hence, you need to cut a pool noodle into the halves, wrap it in fabric and slide it under your door. By this way, you can keep the cold out and heat in your home.
Inevitably, running in the cold requires great determination and motivation. However, as long as you watch out both internal and external safety hazards of your workout environment, you could boost your running efficiency. Especially, you need to suit up appropriately and prepare enough running essentials. Besides, you should pay more attention to varied circumstantial risks when running outside.