How to deal with running in hot or cold climates

For the past 10 years now I have lived in Phoenix, Arizona – one of the hottest places to run in the U.S. for a good part of the year; but, I’m originally from back east and have also lived in climates like Chicago, which are pretty darn cold in winter months. Having experienced both cold and hot running for extended periods of time, I thought I’d share some tips for those of you who live in either extreme, as well for those of you who may be racing in a very cold or very hot temperature area soon. While the “heat miser running tips” is similar to a post I had on summer endurance training, I still wanted to include both sets of helpful info.

Heat Miser Running Tips

  • Water, water, water! I know when you’re in more moderate climates one doesn’t always need to run with a fuel belt or water bottle, but when it’s hot outside (especially dry hot heat), you don’t want to be caught without fluids.
  • Put on sunscreen – while you may want that warm sun to kiss your skin, remember that you still need to protect yourself from harmful rays.
  • Wear cap/visor and sunglasses – again, you need to remember to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Run in the evening or early morning – I know it seems to defeat the purpose of being in a hot climate to run when there is little to know sun outside, but it’s the best time to run, really.
  • Hit the treadmill – don’t tempt fate and see how you will do in your first run in the middle of the day at  100°-plus-temps. If it’s too hot, then try to find a treadmill to get on for your run that day.
  • Start out slower – if the temperature is a little high then I would recommend running at a pace a little slower than you normally do in more moderate weather. If you feel not too drained after a mile or so, then pick it up to your regular training pace.
  • Don’t forget to warm up – just because it’s 85° doesn’t mean you don’t need to warm up.

Cold Miser Running Tips

  • Still need water – Just because the weather is cold, doesn’t mean you won’t need water still, especially for your long runs.
  • Layers…layers…layers – layers is the key to running in the cold. While you may be “freezing” as you jump outside and immediately head back inside to get your winter-parka to wear for your 10-mile training run, you will probably feel “boiling” after a couple of miles. The answer, wear layers you can shed during your run and tie them around your waist.
  • Hats, arm warmers, head bands and gloves – again, you need to remember that you will heat up after a while, so you may not need a super thick or fury cover for your extremities, but at the same time there is nothing worse in regard to running, in my opinion, than being in freezing cold with my ears or hands not covered.
  • Face/nose cover – I never had my nose-mucus freeze until I moved to Chicago – freaky! But it does happen in really cold climates. So, if you are insane to go out for a run at snot-freezing temps, then wear face/nose cover/shield to protect nose and your lungs.
  • Run mid-day if you can – unlike the hot weather climates, you should be trying to run in the hottest part of the day, which is usually mid-day.
  • Hit the treadmill – don’t tempt fate and see how you will do in your first run in at  sub-30° temps. If it’s too cold (especially if it’s wicked windy out), then try to find a treadmill that day.
  • Don’t forget to warm up –  if possible, warm up inside before your go out upon the cold “tundra”.

This is a good starting point if you’re new to cold or hot climates and are planning on training or racing soon. Please share with me any other things you would recommend.

Happy Running!

1 COMMENT

  1. On top of that, doing a dynamic warm up can help activate your central nervous system, priming your muscles for body for a great workout that produces your best effort.

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