Winter Running ... When Should Use A Treadmill?
February 11, 2020
I've come to realize there are two types of people in the world. Those who love the heat and those who don't.
Being a person who likes wearing shorts and short-sleeves indoors and out, I pine for those warm, sunny days that seem to last forever. However, I know there are people who find overheating and hot air a nuisance and cannot wait until snowflakes flitter down from the heavens. For them, this is their happy place.
As a runner, I certainly enjoy doing my workouts outside. But, when the air is cool I tend to shy away from the cold and move my workouts to the treadmill. To be honest, though, I have learned to dress properly and get outside, but if there is a wind howling and temperatures are dropping, I'll keep my shorts on and run in a temperature-controlled environment on a treadmill. But for the rest of you, here are ...
Some things to consider if you really need to be outside
The old tale that says going out in the cold will get you sick really doesn't have any merit. In fact, getting outside and being active in the cold can actually make your immune system more resilient—as long as you wear enough warm layers. And, for an additional benefit, the endorphins you created from exercising can help to offset SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) symptoms that frequently occur this time of year.
However, there are also certain factors for runners to consider. For example, if you have asthma or some kind of breathing condition, it’s not ideal to breathe in that harsh air. I know I have run when it's too cold and dry and my throat starts to burn and I may even cough incessantly after a run.
And one other thing to consider is frostbite, which is something that can set in after being outside for just 30 minutes. So dress properly. There's nothing worse for me than having cold hands or ears if I'm outside.
Another thing with winter and cold is that it can leave a lot of snow or ice on the ground. The thing to worry about then is the lack of traction and slipping, then, of course, falling and injuries. Also, it takes longer to warm up your muscles, so there may be an increased risk of a muscle tear or strain when trying to run hard in this weather. So, warm-up in a nice and warm climate-controlled environment before heading outside.
And if you do go outside, remember to warm-up as soon as you get back. Drink some warm liquids, get out of your wet clothes (yes, you can sweat in the winter so hydrate as well), and take a warm shower.
If all that seems like too much trouble, then remember you're always welcome to get your run in inside on a treadmill while looking outside at the snow and cold.