Winter weather has once again returned to all of us. So, you're here with me and you're wondering, can I run when it's cold outside? Well, I'm Jesse Funk and on today's episode of Runner's High, we're going to discuss running in the cold, when to do it, when not to do it, and does it have any effect on your performance.
The straight answer is yes, you can run when it's cold outside. You don't have to wait for the perfect temperature to go run. Actually, if you're waiting for the perfect temperature to go run, you probably need to work on your mentality. There's a whole saying about how running is 90% mental and 10% physical. Now, obviously, that's a bit of an exaggeration.
But it stresses the point that it is a mental game, a lot of the time, we are trying to fight the discomfort and get over that. That's why I often say you've probably heard before, get comfortable being uncomfortable. And being cold is part of that.
Now, you do have to dress appropriately for cold weather. And I've done a video on that in the past, when I went to Colorado Springs to run the incline. It ended up being much colder than I thought it was going to be, snow was on the ground. It was a whole adventure.
So, I will link to that at the end of this video and I tell you kind of my suggestions for what to wear for particular temperatures. But the answer absolutely is yes, you can run while it's cold outside.
Now, there's going to be almost obvious objections to this situation, right? Where if it's frigidly cold, it's so cold that, you know, sweat is automatically freezing on you, you can't keep warm, then that's going to be a no go. Or if you're in a blizzard, and you simply can't see in front of you, that's a dangerous condition, hit the treadmill, or take the day off.
You know, there are extenuating circumstances where no you don't want to run outside when it's cold. I personally start wimping out somewhere around zero to negative 10 Fahrenheit. I used to run all the way to negative 10 no problem when I was younger. And I find as I'm getting older, I'm getting a little softer, mentally, and physically. And I just don't want to go out quite as much.
But to that point, I'm wearing those different layers, like I explained in the other video, again, you'll see that here at the end. But you do have to know that there is a certain point you start slowing down as well. When it's colder, you're just not going to go as fast as when it's warm outside. Really, there's kind of this ideal temperature range. And if you run for any number of time throughout the seasons, you probably already know this intuitively, it's somewhere in that 50 to 60 degree Fahrenheit range where you feel best running and you get your best performances.
This is backed up by data and is typical for most runners to perform best in this weather. Because you're not too cold where your body's trying to keep you warm and you're not too hot, where you can't get rid of heat. So, it is that nice temperature zone. So, if you're good to go out when it is cold, then yeah, you can do it if it's not dangerous. You are going to slow down a little bit. But it isn't really an impediment to you to go out when it's cold.
Now, one tip I do want to share with you about running in the cold that I talked to Dr. Bob Murray about on a recent episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast I’ll also link to that at the end so you can hear from Dr. Bob Murray. He's a co-author of Practical Guide to Exercise Physiology.
He suggests in the book that when we train in the heat, it can actually lead to improved performance over time. So, I asked him about, “Hey, what do people like me and him, we both live in cold climates for the wintertime, what do we do? Can we train in the heat when it's the winter?” And the suggestion is basically, make sure you're wearing plenty of layers, make sure you're going to sweat.
So, if you watch that video here at the end, where I talk about my different layering techniques and my different amounts of clothes for different temperatures; I've adjusted that since my talk to Dr. Bob Murray, to say okay, I'm going to wear slightly more clothes, a little warmer than I would normally be.
Not hot, not exhausting yourself, but just slightly warmer to make sure that I'm getting the benefits of being warm during my run instead of being cold. So, if you want to see those videos, the one on what to wear for various temperatures out in the cold or here, my interview with Dr. Bob Murray on the Smart Athlete Podcast, those should be coming up here shortly. And I'll see you next time on the next episode of Runner's High.