Warm Weather Running After A Cold Winter

Happy Monday!  Please excuse my absence.  We were hit with a nasty stomach bug. We are healthy now and took a 20 hour drive down to Florida to escape the ridiculous amounts of snow that we have been getting in Northern Michigan.  Quite honestly, our family is fed up with winter.

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Hopefully the last time I shovel the driveway this winter.

Last week we had a blizzard (literally) and another snow storm.  Large amounts of snow make running outside difficult.  The snowplows do a great job, but don’t always reach our neighborhood in time for a workout.  Running in heavy snow can be very difficult and can also change your gait, increasing your risk of injury.

On top of this, I have a toddler who still takes naps.  The combination of weather and young children means that I often have to schedule my runs during nap-time.

To be quite honest, I don’t mind the treadmill.  After years spent working outside in Central Park during the winter, I don’t particularly care for cold weather.  I’d much rather spend my time being warm and on a beach.

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That brings us to Florida!  I’ve spring vacationed in this state pretty much my entire life.  We enjoy the St. Augustine area for its history, cultural experiences, and long flat runs on the beach.

Our first few days here were chilly, and running was easy and breezy.  However, when we got our first hot day, I hit the struggle bus.  Every year this happens to me and this was the first year that I gave myself the grace to take walk breaks when necessary.  Because I had done some outside running in the days before, I knew that it was the weather and not me.  My body just needed to get acclimated.

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So what do you do when you visit a warm place after running in the cold for several months?  And what happens if you have been running inside on the treadmill all winter and find yourself on a hot and humid run?

With either scenario, you are going to experience some changes that might present some difficulty.  Both scenarios also present some advantages.

For the cold weather outdoor runner- you are going to be pleasantly pleased to see that your outdoor running has you somewhat acclimated.  Hills, wind, and other obstacles will be familiar territory.  You might also find that running feels easier with fewer layers and unobstructed ground.

On the flip-side, you are definitely going to notice the warm weather quite quickly.  Remember how awful it felt to run in the cold at first?  Then your body adjusted and 20 or 30 degrees suddenly “didn’t feel so bad.”  You will need to acclimate to the warmer temps and that is going to take a little patience.

For the inside treadmill runner- you might be pleasantly surprised to see that running in a warm and humid gym setting might give you an advantage with the weather changes.  While you will still need to adjust, it might not take you quite as long.

You may find that hills, wind, and other terrain changes will present other obstacles for you.  My quads were singing after a few days of running outside.  Muscles that were used less or in different ways were being asked to work again.

Most runners will need to make a few changes at first.  Whether you ran inside or outside during the winter, if you are going to be running somewhere warm and humid soon, you will need to make a few adjustments.

You definitely need to stay on top of hydration.  Warm weather means more sweat.  Excess sweating leads to dehydration.  Keep drinking water and consider adding some electrolytes to your hydration plan.  Nuun and Vitamin Water Zero are great examples that can help keep you hydrated and even retain some of that water when you get started.

Slow everything down!  Don’t worry about your pace.  Just because your body asks you to slow down as you adjust to the weather, doesn’t mean you are losing progress in your training.  Remember that slow running actually has great benefits and your body is just asking for a little help getting used to your new environment.

It’s okay to walk when you need to.  I will admit that this is the hardest rule for me, but when I remember that it’s okay to take walk breaks as my body is adjusting, everything gets a little easier.  Forcing myself to be miserable isn’t making me a better runner and it certainly doesn’t make the run enjoyable.  When you find the need to walk, turn it into a game and use landmarks to help get you through.

Just enjoy the sunshine and your ability to run and remember that in a few days, everything will feel easier.

How do you handle changes in weather and environments when you run?

11 thoughts on “Warm Weather Running After A Cold Winter

  1. I think we must have gotten lucky this winter in NYC because it only snowed maybe 4 times this season and nothing really stuck for more than a day. Normally I love blizzards but now that I’m running more, I was happy we didn’t get much! I’ve been craving warmer weather though. Which is funny because by the end of the summer last year I couldn’t wait for colder weather to arrive. Not sure which is worse: below 10 degrees or 100% summer humidity. I usually try to beat the summer heat by running super early in the morning.

    • This was a great year in NYC. The rink actually had a rough season because there was so much rain. I can’t recall many winters like that. I always try to remember how tough winter was when I start whining about summer runs. Both scenarios present positives and negatives, for sure.

  2. If I lived there, I would be tired of winter too! I hope for gradual changes in the weather so that I can get adjusted, but that rarely happens. I had one run in the last week that was almost hot (70’s), and another in the 30’s. It has been up and down here in Texas lately. I’m glad that you got a break in Florida.

    • Almost everyone I know is very over winter. People keep posting on social media that the DNR has asked everyone to have their ice fishing shanties off of the lakes by July 3rd. Ha!

      I would imagine that dealing with your varied temps right now can be pretty frustrating too. Your body is probably wondering what the heck is going on!

  3. We were just in Hawaii for a vacation and experienced similar conditions. I’ve noticed that I tend to acclimate to warm weather much quicker than my teen daughter does and she acclimates quicker to cold weather quicker than I do. When we were running in Hawaii, I thought it was great and she kept saying how hot it was (most days when we ran it was upper 60’s to low 70’s and we had come from highs in the upper 40’s to low 50’s for perspective).

    • Thank you for sharing. That’s an excellent point, everyone acclimated differently and you need to keep that in mind. Seeing someone else acclimate can definitely be frustrating.

  4. Pushing a double stroller while running = strong and badass! 💪 I’m not the best at adjusting to big changes in weather, but usually try to hydrate more and take it slow. Hope you’re enjoying/were able to enjoy the warm weather!

    • I came so close to telling you how badass I thought you were for racing with the stroller. Everything about running with a stroller is badass! Thank you. We had a great time in the warm weather. Now it’s back to reality.

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