Many of us living in the Midwest did a lot of complaining about the heat and humidity this past summer. I sure did. It didn’t help that despite my best efforts, I couldn’t seem to get out for a run until at least 11:00 a.m., by which time the temperatures topped the 90 degree mark with humidity levels in the 80s. I pre-hydrated and planned my routes to include water refills. But still, there were many days where the heat got to me, especially on those long runs.
It seemed the hot temperatures would never end. In fact, just 3 weeks ago I ran in shorts and a short-sleeved top on a beautiful 72 degree November day. But of course, all good things must come to an end. Just two days later the temperature dropped by 30 degrees, giving us all a taste of reality. Still, temperatures in the 40s are very doable.
Now that I consider myself a bona fide runner, I’ve decided to keep running throughout the winter months rather than pick it back up in the spring or summer as I have in previous years. I ran our local Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day, which started out at a cold 38 degrees, but I dressed for the weather and felt great once the sun popped out.
Through a series of unfortunate events, I wasn’t able to run again until last weekend. It was 21 degrees out, but I put on (two pairs of) my big girl pants and got a few miles in. My legs were quite pink for a few hours after, but otherwise, I felt great. Winter running? I’m tough. I can take it.
Until today. Holy Moly it’s cold out there! I woke up to zero, yes ZERO degrees out with no end in sight! In fact, by this weekend, the temperature is supposed to drop to 20 degrees below zero, and that’s without the wind chill factor. In the Windy City. YIKES. We all know the hazards of running in hot weather: dehydration, electrolyte loss, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, sun damage, etc. But did you realize these same, plus additional hazards exist when we run in the cold? People frequently get dehydrated while running in cold weather because they mistakenly think they don’t have to hydrate as much in the cold as they do in the heat. This is simply not true; you still burn energy and produce sweat while running in the cold, so it’s just as important to hydrate in cold weather as it is in hot weather. Likewise, sun damage can occur during the winter months. The sun can be very bright, and when it reflects off of the snow and ice, it can be more intense than you realize. Be sure to protect your skin and lips not just from the dry air, but also from the sun. It’s also important to protect your eyes from the sun–both in summer as well as winter months. I’m soooo bad at this…but do make it a habit to wear sunglasses that provide both UV-A and UV-B protection. Consider investing in a good pair with polarized lenses for added protection against UV rays.
Add to these dangers the risk of developing frostbite–even to parts of the body that are not directly exposed to cold air. It’s important to layer and to keep as much of your skin covered as is possible. If you experience any signs at all–including numbness, tingling, discoloration, stiff joints, or pretty much anything out of the ordinary–get to a warm place and consider seeking medical attention. If that’s not enough, there are the additional hazards of slipping and falling on ice or even being hit by a car that loses control in icy conditions.
Yeah, I’m tough. And I can take this winter running. But I think for today, I’m going to take my run inside!
How do you handle the extreme temperatures? Do you run outside in the extreme heat or cold? What’s your go-to warm or cold weather gear?