Running Challenge: Chicago Winter Running

For runners all across the United States, the change in seasons can have different effects on their running schedule and performance depending on where they live. For instance if it is summer time and you are from Houston, TX, then chances are that you are going to either run in the early mornings or late evenings when the suns strength is at a low. No matter where you are from the trick is to find out what time of day, equipment and running schedule will best complement you depending on where you live and what time of year it is. The following is a glimpse into my run today, February 24, in Chicago, Illinois.

I am trying to get back into shape for summer which will be here before we know it so I decide to face Mother Nature and start running outside. Before I get dressed for my run I look at the thermostat on my front porch and see that it is 33 degrees outside and the trees are moving around on my front lawn so I know that it is a little windy outside. I also take a look at the street and see that it snowed enough last night to leave a fresh layer of snow on the pavement, just enough to cover the ground. Taking the weather conditions into account I put on a pair of sweatpants, a sports tank top covered by a zip up turtle neck and all enclosed by an Under Armor fleece running jacket. Before I head outside I also put on a pair of mittens and a hat.

The first thing I notice as I begin my run is the tightness in my lungs. When the air is 33 degrees and your body is around 98 degree the temperature difference puts a strain on your lungs because you are not only breathing but your body is also trying to warm the air as you breathe it in. So it is a little hard to breathe but after about half a miles my body starts to get us to it.

The next thing I realize is that I am running with a little wider gait because the ground is slippery from the fresh coat of snow. My pace is definitely slowed because I would rather be cautious and not hurt myself than fall.

Around the 1 mile mark my body starts to go from cold to warm and as I begin to perspire under my 3 layers of clothing, I am forced to unzip my jacket a big and take off my mittens and but them in my pockets. The rest of the run goes pretty smoothly as my body has adjusted to the conditions, but as I get to the last half mile and my body is getting exhausted things start to break down. My nose starts to run uncontrollably, I can feel the bottoms of my earlobes throbbing in warmth under my hat and my toes start to numb. I know from experience that this is exhaustion setting in and my body is sensing this and attempting to tell me it is ready to stop.

I push through the last half mile and when I get back to my front porch I feel extremely warm and immediately begin to strip off the top layer of clothing. I know to only stay out side for a minute or two to walk around and catch my breath but not to stay to long as to get a chill.

Many factors play into running in cold snowy temperatures and only experience can help to prepare you for exactly what to wear, how to breathe and wear to step so you don’t slip. No matter where you live in the country different temperatures and conditions present different challenges, the trick is to listen to your body and think ahead of your run as to what to expect.

Dr.Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist in private practice in Houston, TX. He is dedicated to maintaining the health and safety of the feet of athletes and return them to their sport as soon as possible after injury. For more information about foot health in sports, informative videos, and to order his FREE book, visit and his blog

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