Is Running in the Winter Bad For You?
I get this question quite often, but with the seasons changing and the air temperature getting cooler — everyone wants to know how long they can continue to push.
Here’s the truth: Running is a game of balancing risk and reward. You are always striving to improve your stride, pace, efficiency, fitness, and do so without injuring yourself. Just like you warm-up your body before activity to decrease the chance of getting injured, you will need to take some preparatory measures bef0re you head out on a wintery day:
- Safety First — Winter conditions bring with it the very real danger of frostbite and loosing your balance on ice. Nothing brings your running career to a grinding halt like a grade III ankle sprain. Take some extra time to warmup both indoors and outdoors before you embark on your usual route.
- Thermals are a good investment — some next to skin clothing that is synthetic and will wick moisture as well as keep you feeling comfortablem is a good investment. Something like these would work well for winter running purposes.
- Hydration is more important — winter air indoors tends to be very dry in the winter since we use heat appliances to heat cold air that contains less moisture than warmer air. As the heat appliance warms the air, no moisture is added in most steups resulting in drier conditions. While you run outdoors, the winter air contains some moisture, but your body requires more so the incoming air will be both warmed and humidified by your mouth and nasal passages. Further, the body heat and sweat generated by your body will more quickly leave the skin surface resulting in water loss from the body that may be imperceptible to you compared to summer running. To keep them working well, drink ~1–2 cups of water 30 mins prior to your run. Signs of dehydration are thirst, weakness, muscle cramps, among others.
- Be Visible! Wear fluorescent clothing, or stick on some reflectors to your gear.
In short, running in the winter can be very good for you, as long as you follow a few simple precautions. Don’t be afraid to slow down a bit and enjoy the feeling of running when most people are snuggling inside their warm beds :)