Exercise! - How cold is too cold to run outside?




BlueToBlue
12-14-2006, 10:57 PM
I'm going to be in Chicago next week and in New York over New Year's Eve and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get my exercise in. In Chicago, I'm staying with family and have a pretty tight schedule, so although there is a nearby gym with a day rate, I'm worried I might have trouble getting there during the hours they are open. Running outside would allow me to exercise in the early morning (the gym doesn't open until 8:00 AM, 9:00 AM on the weekends). And in NY--well, I'd really like to go for a run in Central Park. Our hotel is only a few blocks away and it seems like a quintessential NY experience.

But I live in CA, so I've never gone running in cold weather. Last year when I was in Chicago, it was 0 degrees. I stood in the driveway for all of 5 seconds and decided I would go to the gym. This year, the 10-day forecast is predicting that it will be between 24 to 37 degrees. Is it doable to run in this temperature? And what do you run in? I have long workout pants, but they are out of a light-weight cotton. Would this be okay if I wore a warm top and a fleece sweatshirt?


Ilene
12-14-2006, 11:36 PM
It is absolutely doable and will be quite nice too specially in Central park how pretty is that? Coming from Ontario where it gets to -15C/5F and I still run, 24F to 37F/-4C to 3C is downright nice and balmy :lol:... But I am used to it and it's a gradual thing when you live here... So my suggestion for outerwear is to not over dress, to wear dry wicking material , if you have a windbreaker to cut the wind I would wear that instead of a sweat shirt, I think you will be ok with just the cotton pants... This afternoon it was 10c/50f and I wore only capris and a sleeveless tank under my windbreaker and I open the zippers under my arms to let the air in after awhile because I was hot... The comfort factor also depends on how brisk the wind is... Isn't Chicago called the windy city??

BlueToBlue
12-15-2006, 12:44 AM
Thanks! That's very helpful. I do have have a lightweight windbreaker that I can wear. Chicago is called the windy city (although that's as much for their politicians as it is for the actual wind ;) ). The wind mainly comes off the lake and it is something awful in the winter but luckily I'll be out in the suburbs, so I won't have to worry about it. (In a way, it's too bad about that-- a run along Lake Michigan would be almost on par with a run through Central Park).


YP1
12-15-2006, 01:10 AM
I'm not too bothered about cold, i dress a bit warmer and soon warm up with the exercise, what i tend to avoid is ice because I'm scared of falling. What I find works in terms of clothes is covering as much skin as possible, but not with too much. A relatively thin covering all over works better for me than a thick jumper and nothing on my hands for example.

WindyCityChick
12-15-2006, 02:22 AM
Hi Barbara, I am a Chicago resident, and I just took up running in September of this year. So far, I've been able to run just fine outdoors, even on that windy lake front, without being cold (well, I did go out one day when it was 13 degrees even before adding the wind chill, and that was a bit nippy, but even that I survived). Other than the one cold snap, things have been pretty moderate temperature-wise this winter, so hopefully that will continue through your visit.

As others have mentioned, as long as you layer appropriately, you should be fine. Do not wear anything cotton, the dampness from your sweat will chill you faster than anything else, but if you have a wicking shirt or two and a windbreaker along with tights, you'll be fine. Also, if it's below 25-30 degrees, I would recommend a pair of gloves and some sort of covering for your ears. Don't worry if you're a little cold at first, once you get moving, your body acts as a great little heater. The rule I was quoted is that if you're not a bit cold when you start, you will be too hot once you get going, and I've found it to be true.

If you want to get a "professional" opinion, Running World has a tool that recommends what to wear based on different weather conditions and your own preferences. I found it useful when I was trying to figure out what clothing I would need for the winter running season. http://www.runnersworld.com/cda/whattowear/0,7152,s6-240-325-330-0-0-0-0-0,00.html

I actually love running in the cold, to the point that I'm worried whether running outdoors in August will be nearly as much fun. I went running along the lake the day after our first snowfall 2 weeks ago, and it was really beautiful.

Hope you enjoy your stay here - what suburb will you be visiting?

MariaMaria
12-15-2006, 03:09 AM
I love that Dress the Runner for moderate temps, but it recommends the same gear for 35 degrees as it does for 10. (That's hat-shirt-jacket-tights-gloves, FWIW.)

One rule of thumb is to dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is. So if it's 20, you're dressed to be comfortable at 40.

FWIW, I'm in gloves even before I change from shorts to tights, and below around 30 I start to think about not just a hat but something to breathe through as well. Remember that if you get too warm you can always tuck your hat and/or gloves into your pockets or sleeves or waistband.

srmb60
12-15-2006, 05:21 AM
It was my face that used to bother me but Ilene syggested a scarf that I could muffle into. Works good.

Ilene
12-15-2006, 10:17 AM
Don't worry if you're a little cold at first, once you get moving, your body acts as a great little heater. The rule I was quoted is that if you're not a bit cold when you start, you will be too hot once you get going, and I've found it to be true. That is soooo true... I'd rather be a little cool than warm

WindyCityChick -- I prefer running in the colder months rather than July and August... In the hotter months I always feel like I will pass out from the heat, or maybe this is just a phobia of mine, I'm not sure :shrug:...

One rule of thumb is to dress for 20 degrees warmer than it is. So if it's 20, you're dressed to be comfortable at 40.
I've also read this, it also said that your body temp goes up 20 degrees when your running...

BlueToBlue
12-15-2006, 02:51 PM
Thanks, everyone. This is all really helpful information. I was definitely planning on wearing gloves (my hands are always the first part of me to get cold so I sometimes where them even out here in CA) but I hadn't thought about my ears. A hat would be a good idea and I'm sure I've got one around here somewhere (although it's probably pretty scary looking ;) ). All my wicking stuff is pretty skimpy so maybe I'll stop by Target or a sporting goods store this weekend and see if I can't pick up a long-sleeved wicking shirt. I can always push up the sleeves if I get hot.

I've definitely experienced that I get a lot hotter as I run, which is why I was a little baffled as to what to wear. I know how to dress if I'm just out strolling in the cold or just going to the car, and I knew I didn't need to dress that warmly for a run, but I just wasn't sure how much hotter to expect to get.

WindyCityChick, I'll be out in Roselle most of the time (it's near Schaumburg); that's where my parents live. But I have a friend that lives in the city, another friend that lives in Plainfield, and my sister lives in South Elgin, so I'll be all over the place. Unfortunately my friend in the city is going to be gone most of time I am there; if I could stay with her for one night I could sneak in a run along Lake Michigan, she lives on the upper north side, only a few blocks from Lake Shore Drive. I grew up in Roselle and lived in Chicago for about 4 years after I got out of school (before the winters got to cold for me and I moved to California). I love CA but none of the cities out here can touch Chicago; I'll always miss it.

WindyCityChick
12-17-2006, 09:48 PM
Wow, you are going to be covering some miles on the freeways here. Hope you enjoy your visit. I have had a few opportunities to move to California but never acted on them because I couldn't imagine leaving Chicago - the great things about living here outweigh the lousy weather, at least for me.

BlueToBlue
01-19-2007, 10:37 PM
Thanks again everyone! I did manage runs in both Chicago and New York (Central Park). It was about 30-40 degrees in both places, but I had my windbreaker, hat, gloves, and scarf and I was perfectly warm, but not too warm! :D The windbreaker, in particular, was key--I'm so glad you suggested it, Ilene, because I wouldn't have figured it out on my own.

The only problem was that in Chicago it was cold enough that my glasses fogged up and frosted over. Any suggestions on this little problem (besides getting contacts)?

Ilene
01-20-2007, 01:47 AM
The only problem was that in Chicago it was cold enough that my glasses fogged up and frosted over. Any suggestions on this little problem (besides getting contacts)?
:lol: yes that is a problem... this week I ran in -24c this was the temp with a windchill, which also means that when you're running against the wind your ok, but as soon as you go with the wind the glasses fog up and frost too... I wear sunglasses so at least I can take them off and still see fairly well but with prescription glasses, I really don't know what to say, because if you take them off you can't see :eek: and that is not a good thing...

Glad you enjoyed the run though, I enjoy cold weather running...