LIR6 – Is it too Cold?

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    I have a Lactate Intervals Run on the calendar coming up in two days. The projected wind chill temperature is forecast at less than 20 degrees F.

    Is it too cold for a safe hard run outdoors?


    I live in Texas and (seriously) ran one day last year when it was below 20F. Personally, I didn’t have any problems with it. The thing is making sure that you’re wearing enough layers. Without knowing your previous cold exposure or cold tolerance, it’s hard to say exactly what would be enough. I usually try to dress like I would if it was about 20 degrees warmer and I was just standing around outside. For the sub 20 day, I had to get a little creative. I don’t have gloves that are warm enough, so I put a thick cotton sock on top of my regular gloves. It looked weird, but it worked. Also, I wore a ski mask that covered my mouth. Only, I would have to pull it up periodically to keep from getting too hot. Then, I would have to pull it back down to keep from getting too cold. You’ll probably get a better response from people who are used to this kind of weather. I’m definitely not, so I just used whatever I could find to make it work.

    Leyla Porteous

    Hi Charles,
    Like Alancraig I am not super familiar with running in the really cold temps – I have done a few runs below freezing though and I did find that I had to make sure I had layers on and wear clothes that were sweat wicking to avoid getting sweaty and then too cold when I was resting/cooling down.
    I also noticed that it was hard on the throat breathing cold dry air so a balaclava can help warm and humidify the air. I would say that running intervals in the cold feels a little more stressful on the body as you are working hard, but also working to regulate temperature. So just be mindful of that and don’t make the workout harder than it needs to be – listen to your effort and adjust accordingly.


    Hi Charles,

    I live in NYC and regularly run in the cold. I did my hour foundation run in mid-20 air temps with a nice breeze to make it feel even colder today. I echo what Alan and Layla say – layer up! I generally like to start the run a little cold knowing I’ll warm up as I get going. I will also remove layers as needed and adjust zippers on my quarter zip up and outer jacket layer to regulate my temp during a run.

    One thing to pay attention to is that you will generate a lot more heat during the intervals and may need to remove layers, but you might need to quickly add them back on once you drop back into a zone 1 recovery. It also doesn’t hurt to tie an extra layer around your waist so you can put it on immediately after you stop. Wet layers in the cold will generally cause the body to start to shiver quickly. A dry layer will help prevent that until you can change.

    Hope that helps!



    Thanks all.

    It’s borderline single digits so I’ve taken the hard run to the indoor bike. I really need to invest in a suitable facemask for days like this.

    Yesterday evening I did a 1-hour easy run in the cold, about 25 degrees average. I never really understood why I was seeing arm warmers on runners until yesterday. Both arms hurt to the bone, something I never experienced before.

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