In light of the COVID-19 situation, we have some time until we know when our next A-race will be. As a result, some athletes I work with have been analyzing their winter performances and workouts in an attempt to gauge their current fitness and make training plans moving forward.
As I have written about in the past, there are many things other than just your VO2max and running economy that impact what the clock shows on race day. For instance, I’ve explored how heat slows you down, light shoes make you go faster, stretching slows you down, carbs make you run faster, courses with corners slow you down, how beat juice might speed you up… The list goes on!
With all of those factors, I think practicing a balanced, evidence-based implementation of their principles is important. We want to have an educated idea of just how much each can slow you down, but also keep in mind the studies are limited in how accurately they apply to us.
With all this, let’s see what researchers show about how running in the cold impacts performance. The interesting thing to me is that there just isn’t as much research out there as I thought! Additionally, a key variable to consider is that a cold environment does not necessarily mean the individual is cold (actually often we can overheat by dressing too warmly). On the other side of the coin, there seems to be more research on performing in the heat, and consistently we know that when it’s hot out, you’re actually going to be hot. There are also other variables such as traction and weight of clothing that we have to take into consideration in real-world circumstances when running in the cold. All that being said, let’s see what some of the studies out there show!