Although this winter has had its ups and downs (one minute there’s a blizzard, the next it’s in the 50s!), it’s still important to know about the effects that cold weather may have on your running. Plenty of good marathons are coming up, and you don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize your health before things really start taking off.

Cold temperatures affect the body in various ways, which means your running performance will not be the same at 20 degrees as it is at 65 degrees. In fact, your performance may suffer a little, but don’t let that get you down. Understanding how your body changes in the cold is the first step in making peace with this decrease in performance.

  • When it’s cold outside, your muscles contract at a reduced rate, which means they are not working as hard. This means you will probably be running at a slower pace, which should be anticipated.
  • Cold temperatures lead to an increase in lactate production. This means that your body isn’t using oxygen as efficiently as it should be. While this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, it can lead to a slower pace.

However, there are a lot of good things that can come from cold weather running:

  • When you run in colder temperatures you are putting less stress on your body. Heat and sun can be taxing and may even lead to dehydration.
  • Many people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and may begin to feel depressed or stuck in a rut if they can’t get outside to do fun activities. Going for a run may be just the thing to prevent this from happening.
  • Running is a great and healthy way to keep your metabolism up, and it’s never too early to get your body in shape for summer!

If you have more questions about how running in the cold can affect your performance, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to set up a consultation with us in one of our three Massachusetts offices: Lowell, North Andover, or Haverhill.