Friday, December 14, 2007

Cold, cold run

I stepped into our entryway this morning at 7:30 and felt a rush of cold come over my body. Niko cowered behind the door, hesitating to join me. You know it's cold out when a Husky does not want to go outside for a walk. I'm guessing it was about 5 degrees. When the temperature drops below 10, running outside is very different.

Running in 5 degrees causes sensations I have not felt before. It took a long time for my muscles to warm up, and as soon as I would stop, I would instantly stiffen up and become cold. Halfway through the run I felt this tingling, stinging sensation on my skin that I could not put my finger on. I figured out it was my sweat freezing as it hit the surface. At one point I tried to spit, and then realized ten minutes later that I was running with a frozen icicle of drool hanging from my lip. I couldn't feel it because my face was numb. My eyelashes started to freeze up and I got the usual burning feeling in my fingers. The effort I had to put in just to maintain a 9 minute mile pace was intense.

I read an article this week about running and temperature. It said that runners perform their best when the temperature is between 36 and 52 degrees. So you will perform better when it is 36 degrees, then, say when it's 60 degrees. But when it drops below freezing the cold starts to effect your performance, due to the fact that you need to bring in a lot more oxygen.

I felt that today. I was trudging along trying to keep up what felt like a swift pace, but when I reached the first mile marker my watch said it took 9 minutes. I felt like I was running a 6 minute mile! The article only mentions temperatures down to 25 degrees. It says that at 25 degrees your performance drops by 2%. I wonder how much performance drops when it is 5 degrees?

So the challenge continues. One of the things that has been keeping me motivated lately is my increased performance. I come in from every run feeling like I've improved. I'm running stronger, faster and longer. But that was when it was in the 20s and 30s. I hope these cold temperatures don't slow my progress. But the article also mentions that you can adapt to running in the cold. So we'll see. If it means the ice is forming I am happy to run in the cold.

This weekend I'm taking the entire weekend off, except for my long run on Sunday. I have Christmas parties to go to and was planning on putting up our tree and baking cookies. There is supposed to be wind chill of -20F, so sounds like a good time to stay inside. But part of me wants to get in in -20 just to see what it feels like to run. Next week I hope to get down to some of the highway climbs at night after work. We'll see.


Angie said...

you're nuts.

Brian said...

I second that emotion. 7 AM is sleepin' time.