With winter already upon us I have been asked numerous times by my CrossFit colleagues, do we run all winter, and why?
First with numerous spring runs starting in March we have limited options with our winter training. We must work around the weather and if it is really bad such as black ice; we do head for the treadmill, but most often we head outdoors and face the elements.
Running in the cold once you are prepared is not bad. However, if it is too cold It will effect your performance just as very hot summer day will effect your performance.
So what happens when you are running (exercising) in the cold?
• Your body relies more heavily on carbohydrates and less on fats for energy
• Your lactate production is higher for a given intensity, indicating that you’re going deeper into “oxygen debt” to produce the necessary energy to maintain a given pace
• Your muscle contractions are less powerful, which demands an increase in fast-twitch muscle fibre usage, perhaps explaining the higher lactate production
All of these adaptations have consequences for running: relying more strongly on carbohydrates will drain your energy reserves faster on long runs. Higher lactate production and less efficient muscle contractions are also problematic for shorter runs.
But we can prepare and mitigate these effects by maintaining our body and muscle temperature with warm clothing and moderate activity (like jogging).
Final thoughts on running in the cold
Don’t let the winter dissuade from joining us every Tuesday and Thursday at 6:30 PM.
The ideal temperature for endurance exercise is somewhere around 10-11 degrees Celsius. Right now we are very close to that ideal temperature.
So if you keep in mind the following what’s stopping you?
We are experiencing ideal outdoor running temperatures
Stay warm before and during a workout or a race in the cold
Make sure you maintain your body temperature, as it’s much harder to bring it back up once it has dropped
Warming up prior to a workout becomes even more critical in the cold
Mind your carbohydrate and fluid intake is also important, as you’re more likely to “hit the wall” in training or in a long race during cold weather, and dehydration is a risk too.
Wear layers, as it’s easier to calibrate your optimal clothing level when you have
several thinner layers versus one thick one.
Personally I’ve always felt that bitter cold is not as bad as 0° and rainy, since rain
can make otherwise warm clothes useless.