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Running in cold weather is often unpleasant for several reasons. However, don’t give in and become a couch potato, there are measures you can take to make running during winter a more comfortable experience.
One the most common things runners experience in cold weather is exercise induced asthma. Exercise induced asthma can occur in those who already have asthma but also in those who don’t. Sudden changes in temperature and humidity, for example, colder, drier air tends to cause narrowing of our airways.
Normally when we breath, we breath through our nose. However, with more strenuous activity, we tend to breath through our mouth which allows cold, dry air directly into the lungs. This doesn’t allow the warmth and moisture that nose breathing allows. The symptoms of exercise induced asthma include shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing and decreased performance. To prevent exercise induced asthma, try to warm up for about 10 minutes before leaving the house. If it is very cold, cover your mouth with a scarf, or zip your jacket over your mouth. If severe, it is recommended that you take an inhaler about 15 minutes before exercise to dilate the airways. This is obviously something that should be first prescribed by your GP.
Dehydration is another thing that can occur more easily when running in cold weather. You might not think it, but at lower temperatures there is a lot less moisture in the air. This can lead to a burning sensation in the throat due to dryness and irritation. To prevent this keep taking small sips of water throughout your run. You should cover your mouth with a scarf to prevent dryness.
Cold weather also tends to cause numbness of certain body parts, mostly our feet and hands, due to the last of blood flow to these areas. Make sure your shoes are not tied too tight and are not too small, as this will add to the feeling of numbness. Layer on 2-3 pairs of socks. Socks should be cotton free so that moisture can wick away and not leave you running in a wet and cold sock. Like your fingers and toes, ears are made of thin cartilage and therefore very sensitive to the cold. Try to cover your ears, wearing a hat, headband or hood.
Lastly, to avoid getting a chill when you stop, change out of your damp clothes straight away into something dry and warm, and rehydrate with hot drink.