Top 3 myths about running in the winter

In February of this year in the quaint little town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, saw his shadow. As you know, this means we get six more weeks of winter. For some areas of the country that is meaningless. But for others who are still digging out of the snow, winter is definitely still here. If you are training for a springtime half marathon, you will undoubtedly have to train during the cold months. So embrace running in the winter. It’s just one of those things you gotta do as a runner in training.

When thinking about getting up in those colds you may wonder if it’s safe to do so. I will go over some strategies and debunk myths that will help as you begin running in the winter.

Myth 1: My lungs will freeze when running in the winter

First, just know that I am all about safety and want running to be a positive experience. But, you may be thinking, is running in the winter safely?  When I first started running I thought that running in cold weather would freeze my lungs. Or at the very least, freeze my lips together causing me to drown in my own mucus. This is a myth and not something you need to stress too much about.  According to Dr. Jack Daniels, a cold-weather running expert, “the pulmonary system is very good at warming air. That doesn’t mean it’s going to feel good to go running at 40 below, but it probably won’t freeze your lungs. He goes on to say that when the temperature drops there is less moisture in the air, so death by freezing your lungs is less likely.

But you can dry out your throat and lungs causing them to crack and bleed if they become too dry. The likelihood of this occurring is also very low according to the doctor.

Myth 2: I will get sick running in cold weather

While training for a race if you are already sick, you have to gauge your own crappiness. You are the only one who knows how much you can push yourself when you’ve got the sniffles.  All I can do is give you some general guidelines and then you take it from there. Many doctors will say that if the sickness is below your neck then skip the run. If it’s just sniffles and sinuses, then you’re probably fine to run. When you have a cough, your lungs and throat are already weak and inflamed. You don’t want to add to those problems by beating them up with dry, cold air.

Running doesn’t make you sick. But while sick you’ll need to self-assess how much you push yourself based on the general guidelines provided.

Myth 3: It’s hard to find clothes for winter running

In previous posts I have talked about the best clothes for any weather condition. While running in cold weather you’ll want to wear a fabric that doesn’t absorb moisture (e.g. not cotton). Shorts, leggings, shirts, hats, and socks made of synthetic material are generally very good at not absorbing sweat and wicking it away. Wool is actually great when it’s cold because it will keep you warm even when you sweating like a crazy person. Although it is sometimes more expensive, wool is great for winter running. Hat, socks and jackets are a good wool purchase. Check the sales, get a deal, find some great wool running clothes.

Dress in layers

It’s important to dress in layers. So that when your body heats up you can unzip or remove clothes. This will help maintain the steady temperature range for you. Wear long-legged and long-sleeved compression undergarments help to keep the heat close to your body. Lastly, you need a layer that cuts through the wind so look for wind-resistant or windproof.

Acclimate body to running in the winter

It may take some time to get acclimated to the right temperature. But as you adjust your layering and clothing, you’ll find the right temp for you.  While running in the winter, staying warm is just as important as staying cool. It’s all about finding the right balance for you and your body.

Final thoughts on running in the winter

There are few things worse than running in freezing cold weather, like Keeping up with the Kardashian’s for instance. Believe me I get it. I too hate running when it’s 30 degrees. The howling wind, and snow feels like little daggers on your face. The most important thing when running in the cold is how you feel. Listen to your body, it knows what feels most comfortable. When you get home from a freezing cold run and take a hot shower. It’ll all be worth it and you’ll be glad you overcame the conditions. Let those thoughts help warm your core temperature until you hit the frozen pavement again tomorrow morning.