Cool Running

           For many of you out there this time of year calls for new beginnings.  Aspirations to get better grades and be a better person in the year 2012 are popular New Year’s resolutions for many, but annually the most sought after resolution is to finally get into shape.  Walk into any gym today and take notice of what seems to be a large marathon of treadmills in use.  Unfortunately some do not have the pleasure of having access to a treadmill and must brave the coming winter conditions of running outside.  Unlike running on a nice seventy degree breezy day, running during the months of January and February in northern locales can pose some possible health concerns.

Low temperatures alone can pose some problems, but when such temperatures are further accentuated by wind, the chill factor becomes critical.  Take a runner who is traveling at a pace of 10 mph directly into a wind of 5 mph, this results in a chill factor equal to a 15 mph headwind.

Very important to the runner is the issue of dampness or wetness.  Air itself can be relatively comfortable at 50 degrees, but water at 50 degrees is intolerable.  With a cold temperature, wind, and wetness added to the formula a runner is at a much higher risk for hypothermia.

A very common condition for runners who take on the cold conditions is frost nip.  This condition normally involves the ears, nose, cheeks, chin, fingers, and toes.  The before mentioned conditions predispose the runner to this condition.  At first the affected area will present as very firm and cold painless area that may peel or blister over the next 24 hours.  Sustained pressure with the hand (not rubbing) and blowing hot breath on the area is a quick and easy initial treatment.

There are a few considerations to take before heading out into the cold for a run.  First and foremost any runner needs to be dressed properly.  Many different brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Underarmour have developed fabrics that are both waterproof and windproof but still allow the passage of heat and sweat evaporation.  If breathing the cold winter air seems distressful a ski mask can be used to somewhat warm the air.

Just with running in a hot environment, proper hydration still applies to the runner in a cold environment.  When dehydration occurs blood volume decreases which means less fluid is available for warming the tissues.

With this guidelines, we hope all of you runners out there may finally make this the year that you follow through with your New Year’s resolution, and if not just remember there is always next year….unless the Mayans are right.

Prentice, William E. Arnheim’s Principle of athletic training. 13. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. 184-186. Print.

Hawley, Kristen. “Cold Weather Running Tips.” Fitsugar. n.d. n. page. Web. 5 Jan. 2012. <http://www.fitsugar.com/Cold-Weather-Running-Tips-12643714&gt;.

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