Speed Work in Winter

Snow Day 2009

Compared to NikkinNY and Jassnight, I feel a little silly writing about running in cold weather but we’ve had  record breaking cold in North Carolina!

During my last run, my partner wanted to sprint to the finish. While I was all about getting it over with, I wondered if sprinting in the cold, could lead to injury so my research follows:

While endurance running is possible in the cold, speed work is not a good idea for a number of reasons.

  • Your muscles need to be warmed up sufficiently before the more intense contractions of speed work. It is not as easy to do that in cold and extremely cold weather, and the ambient temperature will keep lowering the skin temperature.
  • Cold air can dry out and irritate your upper airways, which could lead to a burning sensation in the lungs or a hacking cough. The harder you breathe, the greater the damage.
  • Wearing bulky coverings is not something that makes you feel like doing speed work and these layers create restrictions to free movement.
  • On really cold days, you’re better off doing slow, long distances than speedwork
  • If you do run fast, wear a face mask or neck gaiter over your nose and mouth to warm the air you inhale.





About Anjanette Wiley

Runner, Co-founder @RiverRunClub, vegetarian, being ladylike is not my forte.

Posted on January 11, 2010, in Raleigh Runners, running, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Since the college where I work (Ithaca College) is currently building a new athletic center (thus no indoor track yet) I am currently looking for another indoor venue for my speed workouts. I may have community access to both Cornell and Cortland State indoor facilities. That would solve my problem. However, we are looking forward to warmer temperatures at the end of this week here in the north east. Highs of upper 30’s expected – a veritable heat wave!

  2. long runs it is!

  3. I have to tell you, Anjanette, that I don’t ever feel warm when I run these days. It seems that my legs never warm up. I would be hesitant to truly push a sprint.

    That being said, I ran a 5K in Dec – my first race ever – and when a friend yelled “kick” as I headed towards the finish line, I did. It was just built in. It was chilly that day but not cold like we have had recently.

    I am holding out for a long run Thurs where the high is predicted to be 36F.

  4. Nicki, that’s how I feel, like my legs really never warm up. You’ll have a great run on Thursday after being off! Please, call me Anj, we’re friends!

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