What people don’t tell you about winter running

I’ve read plenty of blog posts and running articles that give you tips for running in cold weather: bundling up, dealing with snow and ice, or adjusting your pace. However, none of them seem to cover the most torturous (to me) part of cold weather running, which is what happens after your run.

Whenever I do a run in “cold” weather – anything under 40 degrees, I am FREEZING afterwards even when I am already in my warm house. The colder the outdoor temperature, the worse I feel after and it takes SO long to go away! I am usually shivering and my fingers feel numb. Last February I remember violent shivering after just a 3 mile run. I learned that this phenomenon was not unique to me. As you are running, your body is heating up, you’re sweating (duh) which creates a cooling effect on the skin, and you look flushed as the blood vessels are expanding at the surface of your skin  in order to release excess heat. And then you stop running, but your body takes time to catch up. The body is still trying to release as much heat as possible but it makes you shiver. This is why you see mylar blankets handed out at the end of long races even though the air temperature feels normal to non-runners.

Here are my suggestions on dealing with post-run shivers at home:

– instead of walking to “warm down” after the run, do a slow jog to help make the heat loss more gradual. Get in the house as quick as possible and do dynamic exercises in your house to warm down if you need to. I haven’t tried that 2nd part, and I’m not a trainer but that’s just a thought.

– When you get home, jump into bed and pile on all the blankets. I know some people are thinking “eww, I don’t want to get into bed all sweaty” so..

– take off your sweaty clothes, put on sweatpants, hoodie, new socks, then jump into bed

– huddle up in an old mylar blanket for a while

You could skip the blankets and go straight into a hot shower, but when I try that I end up staying in the shower for days so I prefer to equalize my temp before showering.

In my opinion, the cooling period is terrible and I wish someone had told me to be prepared for it. I’m passing that knowledge on to you.


2 thoughts on “What people don’t tell you about winter running

    • If I get in the shower right away, I end up staying in there for so long. Plus I think it feels better if I stop shivering before I get in. And I don’t know why it never dawned on me to drink something hot.

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