This morning, during my commute to work, it was 8 degrees Farenheit. And that, my friends, is going to be the Twin Cities-area high temperature for the next several days.
Yeah, you read that right. Today’s balmy 8 degrees will be followed tonight with a low of -6 coupled with 30 mph gusts of wind. Add in the windchill factor created by these northerly gusts and the air temp will feel like -25 degrees. May I just say that is f-ing cold!!!
I have several friends who run outside. They train year ’round for distance runs — half marathons, full marathons and other insane running events like that. One of these runners told me this morning she planned to split her 12-mile Saturday run into two parts: a six mile stint on the treadmill and then six miles outside with her running club…at midday…when the temp was at its high point (an expected 2 degrees on Saturday). My other running friend was bagging her weekend run entirely…understandably.
It made me wonder, is it ever too cold to exercise outside? Can the cold air freeze our lungs, cause joint damage and effectively render us unconscious resulting in frostbitten fingers or toes requiring amputation?
The answer: Not if you dress appropriately and not if you keep moving.
In this article, aptly titled, “Too Cold To Exercise? Try Another Excuse” author Gina Kolata explores the extreme elements of Alaskan winters, North Pole excursions and swimming in frigid waters. The consensus among experts? “…even in temperatures as low as 10 to -20 degrees, a runner probably needs to wear no more than a track suit, mittens or gloves and a hat.”
That’s not saying you HAVE to go out in the elements and run. I’m the epitome of a fair weather exerciser. My bike looks mighty sweet sitting in the family room in a trainer especially when it dips below 32 degrees. If I’m not enjoying the climate when I’m outside, whether it’s cold, rain, wind or heat, then I’m not enjoying the run or ride that I’m attempting.
So don’t let cold temperatures dampen your spirit. If you’re into that kind of thing, you can exercise outside. The key is preparation, proper clothing and asking yourself, “Is this fun?”