What adjustments do you need to make for running when the cold weather appears?
According to a formula worked out by Tom “Tinman” Schwartz, our running paces are not only slowed by heat, but also by cold temperatures as well. Schwartz found that 53 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for the runners in his study. The farther the temperature moves away from 53 (hotter or colder), the slower the pace they would achieve with the same effort.
For example, you can expect a time increase of 1.66 percent when the temperature drops to 30 degrees, a 3 percent increase at 20 degrees, a 5.33 percent increase at 10 degrees and an 8.33 percent increase in time when the temperature hits 0 degrees. The formula may vary slightly for runners of different body types, but the trend will still hold true for all.
My point is that you need to give yourself a break and not expect to run your best pace in freezing temperatures. Thankfully, however, training through these cold weather months will pay off. Persevere!
Personally, I am quite comfortable running in 40 degree weather if I have the proper attire. Below 30 degrees begins to become uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are ways to get more comfortable in cold weather. You can adjust to cold weather by adding layers of clothing. This gives it a big advantage over running in the summer. After all, there is a limit of how much clothing you can remove to adjust for heat.
For the cold temperatures, dress in light layers. A huge coat or heavy pants will weigh you down. Light layers can hold your body heat effectively but have the added advantage that you can take them off if you get a little hot. Light layers also have the advantage of allowing you to maintain good running form. Cover your head and neck. Mittens are often better than gloves, but wear whatever you are comfortable wearing.
Barefoot & minimalist shoes might not be the best choice on the coldest days. I believe it is possible to get frostbite on your feet even if the rest of you is toasty-warm.
Ice & Snow
Please be careful when it comes to slippery conditions. One slip is all it takes to injure yourself. It is better to take an extra rest day than it is to risk your health. Moreover, that little slip can lead to a much longer rest if you have to wear a cast! I’m aware that those that live in the north probably see snow and ice is just a way of life, but you at least have to be careful. Take extra care and slow your pace down in these conditions so you can live to run another day.
“Train smart, eat well, & enjoy the run!” — P. Mark Taylor
Check out these books by P. Mark Taylor for more advice on running: