How cold is too cold?

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ratherawkward
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How cold is too cold?

Postby ratherawkward » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:04 pm

... for you to run outside, that is. I've only been running for a year and a half and we barely had winter last year. Now I'm looking at the forecast for a solid week in the "-10, feels like -22" sort of zone and debating what to do, given that I don't own a treadmill or a gym membership. I can pay $8 for a day pass at the local indoor track if I really need to, but I kind of balk at paying that for a relatively short (6-8k) weekday run. If it was just going to be a day or two of a cold snap, I'd just rearrange my schedule a bit.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby eme » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:07 pm

ratherawkward wrote:... for you to run outside, that is. I've only been running for a year and a half and we barely had winter last year. Now I'm looking at the forecast for a solid week in the "-10, feels like -22" sort of zone and debating what to do, given that I don't own a treadmill or a gym membership. I can pay $8 for a day pass at the local indoor track if I really need to, but I kind of balk at paying that for a relatively short (6-8k) weekday run. If it was just going to be a day or two of a cold snap, I'd just rearrange my schedule a bit.


I've run in stupidly cold weather (my record is a Half Marathon in a minus 40 wind chill). The key is to dress appropriately and adjust your expectations. Layers are your friend, they trap layers of air to keep you warm and you can unzip if you get too warm.

That being said, it was stupid cold here today, so I ran insided :lol:

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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby jes » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:09 pm

I'm done at about -30 (inc. wind chill).

Marg cries at about -20. Proven fact.
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How cold is too cold?

Postby QuickChick » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:30 pm

No matter how much I layer or what I wear, I'm way too cold below -15. I love to run, and I don't want to hate my hobby, so while I still run, I don't apologize for taking it indoors when it would otherwise be a miserable experience. You're in Toronto, right? You may want to think about getting a monthly pass to one of the community rec centers. The one in the Beach at Glen Ames school used to be $15/ month 5 years ago. It may be up to 20 now. There were 2 TMs, though, and the people were nice. One of the bigger centers might be better equipped. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not a real runner if you're not outdoors all of the time!
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby sandstone » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:33 pm

for me, +/- about -20 is my limit, depending on time of day and wind (-20 at 10:00 AM on a sunny morning is way preferable to -20 overcast with wind out of the north). as others have said, layers are your friend, including your face and eyes (balaclavas and glasses with clear lenses).
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How cold is too cold?

Postby Jwolf » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:34 pm

QuickChick wrote:No matter how much I layer or what I wear, I'm way too cold below -15. I love to run, and I don't want to hate my hobby, so while I still run, I don't apologize for taking it indoors when it would otherwise be a miserable experience. You're in Toronto, right? You may want to think about getting a monthly pass to one of the community rec centers. The one in the Beach at Glen Ames school used to be $15/ month 5 years ago. It may be up to 20 now. There were 2 TMs, though, and the people were nice. One of the bigger centers might be better equipped. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not a real runner if you're not outdoors all of the time!

Good advice!

I love the treadmill for winter runs. It doesn't even get cold here but the wet and cold just sucks. I love running on the treadmill with my music or podcasts.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby MichaelMc » Sun Jan 20, 2013 9:48 pm

I can't tell you what TOO cold is, but -40 (-48C with wind chill) is pretty close.

Running in the cold is really all about proper clothing. Feet and fingers require most attention, and having a good cover for the face that won't ice up and freeze is also important. We generate a lot of heat when running, so the right clothing will feel just barely warm enough to start with. Overdressing makes you sweat which can ultimately cause more problems.

Everyone has different tolerance for cold. I wear a windbreaker as a top layer and a simple long sleeve tech shirt under it down to -10C or so. Between -12 and -18C I'll add a short sleeved tech shirt as a second layer. At -20 I move to two long sleeve tech shirts under the windbreaker: that is good to -30 or so for me. I wear tights on the bottom and my legs are good with that to -35 or so, at which point I add long johns under loose tights.

For frigid temps I like my neoprene face mask (looks like a bandana): make sure it has good sized breathing holes. "Smart wool" socks make a real difference: don't stuff too thick socks into your normal shoes because tight shoes cut off circulation.

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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby ultraslacker » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:00 pm

I moved to a warmer climate. :lol:

Before I moved here, I tried a few long runs at -30 and after hypothermia and frostbite decided that wasn't worth the pain, so I drew my limit around -20 after that. I'm like Lisa... no matter how many layers I wore, I couldn't stay warm.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby grimskot » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:19 pm

+1 to comments on layering, smart wool socks, etc. Also, plan your route with the wind in mind: try to run into the wind on your way out, and with the wind on your way back. If it's your first time testing your winter tolerance, plan short loops from your home, so you can bail easily if it's not working for you.

I'm one of those stubborn runners who will run outside almost all winter long. (see today's daily thread for conditions here in Winnipeg. ) I've been doing so for several winters now, have bought the right gear to do so safely, and have built up my tolerance. So "-10, feels like -20" sounds pretty good to me. :) That said, if I had to run outside in cold slush or on icy streets like Toronto or Vancouver, I would likely have to think hard about it. Especially if I didn't have some sort of winterized shoes to keep my feet dry. YMMV.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby carm » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:44 pm

Same as jes, -30 (including wind-chill) degrees C. Any colder and your body starts tingling like crazy when you're just walking from your work building to your car. Cold tolerance is a personal thing as mentioned above. If you decide to start running in winter (e.g. this week) then you'll suffer but if you've been running outside regularly since winter began, you're more likely to tolerate it better.

I'm not sure what I'll be doing this week but I can deal with a hamstermill for shorter distances. I don't listen to music while running so I'd say that 90-120 minutes would probably be max.
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How cold is too cold?

Postby Jwolf » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:47 pm

I also have a mild form of Reynaud's so even minor cold makes my hands and feet turn white. I used to do a lot of skiing in minus-stupid temps when I lived back east. You can't ski indoors but you can run indoors. :) So given the choice, I don't fight it.

Not all of us can do well in the cold even with layers, and it's just too uncomfortable for me.
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How cold is too cold?

Postby Joe Dwarf » Mon Jan 21, 2013 12:46 am

I'm OK down to -25 or so, probably -30 if its calm and sunny but I haven't tried that cold yet. Big wind is a deal breaker, and I'm usually more worried about footing so a recent snow/thaw/refreeze also is a problem. Layers are key, plus some zippers to vent as you heat up I have big double layer fleece mitts to wear at the start, as I warm up I switch to light fleece gloves.

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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby QuickChick » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:42 am

Jgore gave me the excellent tip a few years ago to wear two toques, and now I do that below about -5. Smartwool socks are great, but at a certain point they don't work (usually below -15 and after about an hour, haha). Also, the Running Room's mitts are also really good. Gloves are a no-go, even ski gloves. When it's closer to -15 (I am SUCH a wimp!) I wear dollar store gloves and throw one of those hot paws hand heaters into my mitts as well. This actually does work really, really well. If I could solve my foot problem, I'd be golden. I need to invent socks with built-in hot paws, or heated shoes like the heated ski boots they make. I also have Reynaud's and my hands/feet will go white when I get cold even indoors! It's definitely my hands and feet that make me say -15... my body will stay warm down to -20ish (haven't run in colder than that in YEARS!) with good layering.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby erinmcd » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:15 am

I haven't yet hit a day when it's too cold to run, though it doesn't get as cold here as it does in other parts of the country. We'll get a few -25 to -30 nights a year, but they're rare. The worst part is the first couple of km before your body heat starts to keep you warm. What I do is wear an extra layer and do a 2.5K loop, then drop the heavy outer layer when I come back around to my house and then carry on. That works for the face too- my face always warms up once the blood starts flowing, so it's great to wear the face warmer thing that Michael mentioned and then drop it off too once you've do a warm up loop.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby Hammie » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:31 am

QC - they make hand warmers for your feet! They sell them at the ski hills here. They are shaped like the front half of an insole and have a sticky side to hold them in place. They aren't as good as the ones for your hands, mostly because there is less air in your shoes and the chemical reaction requires oxygen, but they're better than nothing!

I'll layer up to run in cold (down to -20 or so), but I'll hop on the TM if it gets colder or if there's ice, wind, or lots of new snow. I wear a wool face cover, hat, liner gloves, fleece-lined ski mitts over those, and many, many layers.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby La » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:43 am

For me, wind is more of a deal breaker than the cold itself. And snow/ice - if the ground isn't mostly clear, I'll run on the treadmill.

It doesn't get cold here for long periods of time, like it does on the prairies. We get cold snaps (a week long), but then it usually goes back to seasonal temps.

CinC brought some chilly Alberta weather with her when she came a couple of years ago in January. I think it was -19C (before factoring in the wind chill) for our run that Sunday morning. Brrr. We lasted about 5K before we decided to pack it in. :lol:
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby purdy65 » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:47 am

I'm with La,

It's rarely the temps that keep me inside. Footing is the biggest issue. Wind is no fun, but as we figured out yesterday, plan a route that has at least SOME shelter from the wind, and it's OK.

That being said, I'm with many of the others. I have no trouble taking it inside. Even when I know it's perfectly fine to run outside, I'd just rather have the comfort of my treadmill, TV ad waterbottle.

+1 to the community center idea. One not too far from us has in indoor track! Definitely cheaper than a gym.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby jes » Mon Jan 21, 2013 8:51 am

QC, have you tried putting duct tape (or similar) over the mesh in the toe box? I just tried this a few weeks ago, and it works great! Much better against cold than wet (it just falls off when it's wet). Even if it falls off when it's cold, I find that it stays on long enough for my feet to get warm, then it's all good.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby ngcaper » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:03 am

How cold is too cold? Today is too cold!!! -23 with a -30 windchill right now in Ottawa.
I can do down to -20 or so with no wind and sun...throw in the wind and no-sun and I just don't enjoy it very much. I'm a fan of compression base layers, although after 20k or so I've sweated through them and when I stop it gets cold quickly. I have two pair of Sugoi and Under Armor fitted cold wear...they are god sends, but even the Extreme Cold Under Armour can't handle this cold.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby La » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:04 am

jes wrote:QC, have you tried putting duct tape (or similar) over the mesh in the toe box? I just tried this a few weeks ago, and it works great! Much better against cold than wet (it just falls off when it's wet). Even if it falls off when it's cold, I find that it stays on long enough for my feet to get warm, then it's all good.

I've done that and it works (as long as it stays on). The alternative would be to put it on the inside/underside of the toe box.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby jes » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:06 am

La wrote:
jes wrote:QC, have you tried putting duct tape (or similar) over the mesh in the toe box? I just tried this a few weeks ago, and it works great! Much better against cold than wet (it just falls off when it's wet). Even if it falls off when it's cold, I find that it stays on long enough for my feet to get warm, then it's all good.

I've done that and it works (as long as it stays on). The alternative would be to put it on the inside/underside of the toe box.


I wouldn't want it to come lose and move around inside my shoe though. For me, as long as it stays on until I get moving (the first 30 min or so), it really, really helps. I have my very own roll of tape by the front door now :D
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby Habs4ever » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:08 am

La wrote:
jes wrote:QC, have you tried putting duct tape (or similar) over the mesh in the toe box? I just tried this a few weeks ago, and it works great! Much better against cold than wet (it just falls off when it's wet). Even if it falls off when it's cold, I find that it stays on long enough for my feet to get warm, then it's all good.

I've done that and it works (as long as it stays on). The alternative would be to put it on the inside/underside of the toe box.

I've never had a problem with duct tape, it always seems to stay on fine. :?

Inside the toe box would be weird and move around.
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby HCcD » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:10 am

Habs4ever wrote:
La wrote:
jes wrote:QC, have you tried putting duct tape (or similar) over the mesh in the toe box? I just tried this a few weeks ago, and it works great! Much better against cold than wet (it just falls off when it's wet). Even if it falls off when it's cold, I find that it stays on long enough for my feet to get warm, then it's all good.

I've done that and it works (as long as it stays on). The alternative would be to put it on the inside/underside of the toe box.

I've never had a problem with duct tape, it always seems to stay on fine. :?

Inside the toe box would be weird and move around.
Eta: I see Jes beat me to that comment. :wink:


Just make sure you use the authentic "duct" tape and not that fake / cheapo wannabe duct tape clone ... :shifty: :wink:
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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby Joe Dwarf » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:34 am

QuickChick wrote:Smartwool socks are great, but at a certain point they don't work (usually below -15 and after about an hour, haha).
I was actually surprised to find that my feet are never an issue. My ass gets cold, and working out the balance between having a warm face and being able to breath is an issue, but feet no problemo.

Having said that, have you tried the "Woolie Boolie" socks at MEC? They are actually cycling socks, but they are great because they are warm and also because they cover your ankles nicely so there is a good overlap with your tights or pants.

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Re: How cold is too cold?

Postby Habs4ever » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:37 am

Joe Dwarf wrote:
QuickChick wrote:Smartwool socks are great, but at a certain point they don't work (usually below -15 and after about an hour, haha).
I was actually surprised to find that my feet are never an issue. My ass gets cold, and working out the balance between having a warm face and being able to breath is an issue, but feet no problemo.

Having said that, have you tried the "Woolie Boolie" socks at MEC? They are actually cycling socks, but they are great because they are warm and also because they cover your ankles nicely so there is a good overlap with your tights or pants.

I'm like Joe. My feet are never cold, but my thighs and butt are. I find if I wear anything thicker than my regular socks my feet sweat, THEN get cold. I just wear my normal socks and duct tape and all is good.
Eta: of course this year I've barely run outside. :roll:
Last edited by Habs4ever on Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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