Tag Archives: cold weather running

Distance running in the cold

20 mile run to Rye, New York in frigid cold

20 mile run to Rye, New York in frigid cold

Although it is not officially winter, it sure feels like it outside. With temperatures across the U.S below the freezing mark, many runners and other outdoor exercisers may lose their enthusiasm for exercising in the outdoors. The shorter days don’t help either. For a lot of people who ordinarily exercise outdoors, this means heading to the gym to stay fit for the winter.

As for me, nothing can replace outdoor exercise. I’m a distance runner, and treadmills just don’t feel “right” to me. Sure I may be a little slower when running trails since my lungs don’t function optimally in the cold, dry air, there’s snow on the ground sometimes and ice patches galore, but these should be seen as opportunities rather than obstacles. The snow can be a little difficult to run on, but it can help build stamina; icy areas can help you improve your balance. The fierce, cold winds may do all they can to force you back inside, but if you are dressed in enough layers and psychologically ready, you will have the last laugh.

And that is really the key to running outdoors. Dress properly, wear enough layers – but not too many. This may require experimenting, but you don’t want to wear so many that you weigh yourself down or feel uncomfortable, and you also don’t want to wear so little that you freeze your butt off after running for 5 minutes. Don’t forget to drink water or fluids before or after a run, since you will be sweating a lot under your clothing even if you don’t notice it. Don’t forget to wear a hat, especially if it goes below the freezing point!

For me, just 3 layers is enough if it is in the 20s, though maybe you will need more. A regular cotton undershirt, long-sleeved running shirt, heavy sweat shirt, sweat pants and a hat helped me stay warm during yesterday’s 20 mile(32 km) run. Oh and some heavy gloves. Yesterday’s high temperature was about 27 F or -2.7(it was actually much colder when I started the run). I dressed similarly when I ran as it was snowing a few days ago, though I only ran for 13.49 miles.

If you are new to running in snow, or in icy conditions, take it easy the first few times. Be very careful. If it is really icy, you may want to seriously consider buying something for your sneakers to help improve traction. I don’t have anything like this, but I may get something eventually.

Don’t worry if you are running slower than usual because of the cold air. This happens to virtually everyone, and by spring you should find yourself running as fast as last spring or faster.

The cold is not a good excuse to stop outdoor exercise!

Adventures in the blizzard

snnowjoggle

The people in the suburbs just north of New York City who witness the strange spectacle of a man joggling probably think he is either crazy or just very serious about fitness. Of course, being crazy and being very serious about fitness aren’t mutually exclusive. Running in a blizzard is crazy, but joggling in one is even crazier. Still, you do need to be a serious athlete to do something crazy like this.

Joggling in the early stages of a blizzard isn’t easy, although you may have an uncle or cousin who thinks otherwise. My State Street boots may help keep my feet dry and warm, but they are difficult to run in. My feet and knees start hurting if I try running at my usual pace in them for more than a few yards, so I’m forced to do intervals between running very slowly, and a fast power-walk while juggling.

Luckily it wasn’t too cold(35 F or 1.6 C) yesterday, but the snow, which sometimes turned to sleet, kept blowing in my face. My sunglasses came in handy to protect my sensitive eyes, though they would sometimes get blurry. I did my usual route along the Bronx river, but only covered about 3.5 miles.

I also tried joggling with snowballs a few times. Juggling with them wasn’t especially difficult since I had heavy gloves on, but they would fall apart very quickly. I also got caught in the crossfire a few times between groups of kids throwing snowballs, but I managed to dodge all of them.

All in all, a wonderful time joggling in the blizzard.

jogglelake

It’s never too cold for outdoor exercise

IMG_0645I’m loving this cold weather! Bring it on! It was about 16 Farenheit(-8.8 C) when I joggled for an hour this morning. I sure did sweat a lot under all those layers, but I really had no choice. It was great seeing many other people out there running or power-walking. It seems they also adhere to the “No Excuses” approach to fitness, just like I do. It is the only approach that works.

I think my respiratory system is adapting to the cold, since I hardly cough anymore and I don’t suffer from shortness of breath like before. I think being in good health makes it easier to adapt to extreme weather and circumstances, so I am thankful for my health. It’s still flu season, so be careful and get a flu shot if you haven’t already.

Old Cottage in the Woods

cottage333

Old stone cottage in the Saxon Woods of Westchester county, New York. The Saxon Woods are a great place to run, hike or observe wildlife all year round, just a little north of New York City and close to the town of Mamaroneck. No, it’s not my summer home.

I don’t know its history, but I can’t remember it ever having a roof.

cottagewoods

The benefits of upper body cardio

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for many years, or secretly invented a drug that provides the benefits of exercise without actually exercising, we all know we have to exercise. The real question when it comes to exercise is “how?”.

IMG_0625

When most people think of cardio, they think of exercises that primarily use the legs: walking, running, and cycling. Even many otherwise fit people often neglect to do endurance work on their arms if their favorite cardio exercise is a leg exercise.

A cardio workout that includes both the arms and legs may be more beneficial than a workout that exercises either alone – Aerobic exercise training programs for the upper body. In fact, arm cardio all by itself has some interesting benefits: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988 Apr;20(2):136-41 – “Effect of arm training on central and peripheral circulatory function.”

The data suggest that endurance arm training as prescribed in this study elicits significant circulorespiratory function adaptations to support improved performance in both arm and leg work. Further, the findings suggest both a specific and general training effect, with the more dominant effect specific to arm work

This is pretty remarkable. So doing arm cardio can benefit the entire body, including the legs, not just the arms.

This raises an important question, and this is especially important for jogglers – Are the arms and legs in competition for cardiac output? Luckily, some scientists at the The Copenhagen Muscle Research Center, have already tried to answer this:

Oxygen transport to working skeletal muscles is challenged during whole-body exercise. In general, arm-cranking exercise elicits a maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) corresponding to approximately 70% of the value reached during leg exercise. However, in arm-trained subjects such as rowers, cross-country skiers, and swimmers, the arm VO2max approaches or surpasses the leg value. Despite this similarity between arm and leg VO2max, when arm exercise is added to leg exercise, VO2max is not markedly elevated, which suggests a central or cardiac limitation. In fact, when intense arm exercise is added to leg exercise, leg blood flow at a given work rate is approximately 10% less than during leg exercise alone. Similarly, when intense leg exercise is added to arm exercise, arm blood flow and muscle oxygenation are reduced by approximately 10%. Such reductions in regional blood flow are mainly attributed to peripheral vasoconstriction induced by the arterial baroreflex to support the prevailing blood pressure. This putative mechanism is also demonstrated when the ability to increase cardiac output is compromised; during exercise, the prevailing blood pressure is established primarily by an increase in cardiac output, but if the contribution of the cardiac output is not sufficient to maintain the preset blood pressure, the arterial baroreflex increases peripheral resistance by augmenting sympathetic activity and restricting blood flow to working skeletal muscles.

(Emphasis is mine)

Leg blood flow 10% less during arm/leg exercise, than leg exercise alone? This is significant, and I must admit that when I joggle it certainly feels like this sometimes. But then at the same time, don’t forget the general fitness benefit from arm cardio suggested by the first study. So it may be 10% less than a higher blood output rate than if I were only running. In other words, a higher fitness level that is the result of leg/arm combination cardio is being compromised than a lower fitness level that is the result of mostly leg cardio. And don’t forget that unless you’re joggling with 3 heavy balls(or 4 or more light balls), juggling isn’t as intense as rowing, so it may be a lot less than 10%.

So if for whatever reason you can’t run or walk long distances, juggling by itself can also provide aerobic benefits. Also, if you joggle, or you are considering joggling, your leg speed may be slightly compromised, but it’s not really a big deal and the juggling may be making you fitter than if you were just a runner.

Old Man Winter versus the joggler part III

Old Man Winter is now really really here. Not a brief cameo. Not a brief, uneventful visit. He is actually here, and He is here to stay with us for a little while, and I am having a fantastic time joggling in it. My earlier experiences about joggling in winter weather wasn’t about the real winter but only a foretaste of it. Now it is the real thing, with snow and ice blanketing the ground, below freezing temperatures and harsh, angry winds that present a unique set of challenges to outdoor exercise. These challenges are very far from insurmountable, so this kind of weather is not a good excuse to stay indoors. He may have a bad temper at times, but make your peace with Old Man Winter to stay fit.

A hat, a few good layers and sweat pants are all you need to stay warm if you are active and the weather is dry. However, when it comes to joggling, finding the right glove can be tricky. They need to be dexterous, and keep you warm at the same time. So they can’t be too big and fluffy. It also helps if they can quantum-teleport themselves to your location if you forget them at home, but they don’t make gloves like this yet(unlike my winter hat).

They also need to be moisture-resistant, for when/if you drop balls in the snow or if you joggle when its snowing(I know none of the jogglers reading this ever drop balls, but just in case). My old work/hiking gloves are all but useless in this weather, which I found out a few days ago while joggling in the evening through a wooded area in the snow. So I bought some new gloves from the local sporting goods store for $16.00.
Wellslamont

The new gloves I got are Wells Lamont and are partially made from Thinsulate. The palm is 60% nylon, 40% polyurethane, while the back is 96% polyester and 4% spandex. gloves2The lining is 100% polyester and the insulation is 100% Thinsulate(100% polyester). Although they will take some getting used to, I have no major issues with them since I didn’t drop the balls very often when I joggled today. The biggest problem is that the middle palm area is a little baggy which may be responsible for the occasional awkward throw and some of the drops. The ice was also responsible for a few drops. They are comfortable, they fit nice and snug, and they are dexterous. They kept my hands warm and dry, even after joggling in them for an hour and after picking up balls from the snow. It was in the upper 20s while I joggled and I didn’t feel it. I think joggling keeps me warmer than regular running. I believe these gloves would be good for a variety of outdoor activities in the winter, but I wouldn’t use them for polar bear wrestling.

It goes without saying that the cold, dry air is also no friend to our lungs, though not as devilish as tobacco smoke. It is the dryness that is more of a problem than the coldness, since cold air won’t freeze our lungs, not even at some of the coldest temperatures on the earth. Our lungs function better when there is some moisture in the air, so dry air can be irritating and inflammatory – even warm, dry air. People with asthma or other respiratory problems may be better off taking it easy in this kind of weather. But don’t avoid cold air if you think it will cause the common cold; I’m sure all my readers know this, but spread the word.

I never run or joggle with a scarf or mask on, since I think it would interfere with my breathing and too much moisture will collect on it from my breathing and runny nose. I think it is only a matter of getting used to the cold, dry air.

I won’t let this cold weather keep me inside, and neither should you.

Fabulous time joggling around Rockefeller Preserve

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in winter

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in winter

The Rockefeller Preserve in Sleepy Hollow, NY, has a lot to offer the nature lover or fitness buff all year round, so long as no idiot burns it down. Its 1,233-acres offers beautiful vistas, dense forests, diverse wildlife, and exotic dancers. The preserve’s many bird species will greet you with ethereal bird song as you walk, run or joggle along its many trails(and I was kidding about the exotic dancers, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention).

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in summer

Lake at Rockefeller Preserve in summer

The Rockfefeller preserve used to belong to this very rich, powerful family, but I can’t remember their name at the moment. It’s an especially good place for joggling as there is virtually no vehicle traffic or roads in the park. I don’t let the cold, breezy air keep me indoors, so I had a delicious time there yesterday.

Some new video from yesterday – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK0V7834BM4

There are so many great views in this preserve, it’s hard to decide where to take photos.

I believe that joggling keeps me warmer than running due to having to move my arms a lot to juggle the balls. Keep in mind that you may have to do a lot of warm up exercises with your arms before you joggle or you will drop the balls a lot at first. Try to see if you can incorporate juggling into your fitness routine in the New Year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

IMG_0562

Winter is officially here

Now that winter is officially here with all its challenges and positives, I keep thinking of the how different it was when I joggled during the summer and its own unique challenges.

I joggled many times around this lake during the summer. This photo was taken in the Rockefeller Preserve, Pocantico Hills, NY.

In a strange kind of way, I miss it, especially as the weather gets colder. It’s like I have forgotten the profuse sweating, the heat-induced muscle fatigue causing me to slow down or drop the balls, the countless insects biting me or flying into my face, and the sunscreen I had to rub over much of my body to prevent sunburn. Okay, maybe I haven’t forgotten, but I still achieved bliss on a good run. I remember joggling in the summer wishing it was the heaven that is winter.

And now sometimes I wish it was summer, or spring. How ironic. The middle of the winter means heavy clothing, shorter days, a running nose, the risk of frost-bite, kids throwing snow balls, and sometimes stiffer muscles. If there is snow or ice, winter joggling can be especially problematic – be not afraid of new challenges. And the local kids should know they can’t win in a snow ball fight with a joggler!

“When you long for a life without difficulties, remind yourself that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” – Uknown

Although I have to adapt to the weather, all the rules for joggling are the same. For beginners, this is very important: Maintaining the proper rhythm and posture is everything. It is like music, making beautiful music, becoming one with the rhythm and one with the balls. You may hear the music, you may not. If a melody develops, literally run with it. Hum along if you want.

With all this emphasis on rhythm, and music perhaps it would be better for jogglers to forget about running and to think of themselves as dancers. Running simply takes you from point A to point B. But juggling adds a new magical dimension to the running; going from point A to point B^3.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of dancer-joggler you think of yourself as. If you prefer the grace of a ballerina, go with that. Or if you prefer hip-hop dance, go ahead. You don’t even necessarily have to do the 3 ball cascade pattern, although that is most efficient and easiest for beginners. Above all, be creative. You may surprise yourself and learn all sorts of new things about yourself through joggling. If it really does make us smarter, that isn’t such a surprise.

In the new year, whatever your fitness goals are, it helps to be as creative as possible, to think outside-the-box, to make it as fun as possible and to not care what anyone else thinks.

And for the record, I’ve decided to stop eating eggs, which makes me vegan yet again.

Old Man Winter versus the Joggler

Too bad I can’t borrow the fur, feet and reflexes of this guy.

Winter will soon be upon us. This won’t be the first winter I’ve joggled in. I have no problem joggling in a snowstorm or snow, as long as it isn’t too deep, and already did so in an early recent snowstorm, even with heavy snow blowing in my face. It was a ton of fun, but it is also a lot more exhausting. Obviously, the snow blowing in my face temporarily blinded and disoriented me so that I was more likely to drop the balls(I was surprised by how little I dropped them though I didn’t do it for very long).

Normally I dread Old Man Winter, since he often makes the roads and trails I use for joggling almost impassible with snow and/or ice. But I really should see this more as an opportunity, however challenging the weather conditions might be. I realize I may not be able to joggle at all if there there is too much ice in my area. When it rains cats and dogs, I often “joggle” in place at home; while it may not be the real thing, at least I am still getting a good aerobic workout.

I will do the same thing if ice or blizzards make outside conditions too difficult for outdoor exercise. Again, I keep repeating to myself “opportunity”. Maybe I’ll learn new things about joggling due to the nasty weather. In a way, it is like a new winter sport, “Old Man Winter versus the Joggler”. I have to outsmart it. I may have to learn some new tricks, and will definitely have to dress the right way, to win this battle against the elements.

In the very least, the challenging conditions of the winter will help improve my fitness to the degree that when spring comes around, I may be almost unstoppable at races.