I can hear you now: “What’s a guy from Florida know about running in cold weather?!”
The answer: Too much.
Growing up in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts and being an indoor/outdoor collegiate miler in Connecticut at a college with no indoor track, I’ve run thousands of miles in sub-freezing temperatures. At Central Connecticut State University, out interval training took place from December to May either in a parking lot, on a local steep street hill, in a parking garage, or on the cinder track when the snow was melted. There was no plush 70 degree indoor track complex to make us soft.
My skiing buddies still think I’m nuts when I bundle up for a run after a long day of skiing during our annual “Guys Ski Adventure” out west each year.
Running in the cold weather is not easy but it sure is fun. Forget about your pace. Forget about your perfect running technique. Forget about your exact mileage. Just focus on enhancing your fitness level and being outside when everyone else is more worried about their ears getting too cold!
Here are 5 benefits to running in the cold weather. Get out there and enjoy the simple facts that you are healthy enough to enjoy your own adventure!
Every athlete needs to know these 5 benefits of running in the cold. While many prefer to run in ideal conditions, running in the cold has the potential to give some significant benefits and boost future performance.
- Running in the cold trains your body to operate in adverse conditions. Running in the cold feels tough, and it takes special motivation to get out the door. The cold, like all adverse weather conditions, trains your body to function during difficult times—much like the later stages of a race will be. Increasing your stamina by running in the cold and adverse weather conditions of winter will increase your race performance.
- Running in the cold enhances mental toughness. Just as your body benefits from running in adverse conditions, your mind benefits as well. The mental fortitude gained by running in the cold can propel you to the finish line of a race when the going gets tough.
- Running in the cold prepares you for cold-weather races. If you live somewhere that sees cold weather for a significant part of the year, running in the cold is inevitable. Just as inevitable, if you are an avid racer, is running a race in the cold. Training in the cold mimics race-time conditions, allowing your body to become used to what it will experience during a race and increasing race day performance.
- Running in the cold prepares you for a more productive spring running season. Most cold weather running takes place during the winter months, when many armchair athletes remain dormant. Bucking this trend and running in the cold prepares you for increased performance come springtime. Maintaining a base level of fitness throughout the winter months results in faster runs and better endurance during the following spring and summer running seasons.
- Running in the cold is less difficult than running when it is hot. While running, the body generates excess heat that is exhausted through the skin. Running in the cold keeps the body cool, allowing heat to escape more readily. With proper cold weather gear, running in the cold can be easier than running on a hot summer day.
Be aware that running in the cold has its dangers. Increased risk of hypothermia and frostbite necessitate appropriate cold weather gear. Dress properly, however, and running in the cold can have a significant benefit to your running performance. Dress in layers, avoid the wind and protect yourself from the sun to keep your cold weather workouts safe.