Can You Run In Cold Weather?
A patient asked me last week why her back and legs always get sore when she is running in the fall. It is an interesting question and it is worth thinking through.
When you run, you are using your muscles and your muscles need energy to contract. The body is going to create energy usually by one of two methods. The first uses oxygen and the second does not use oxygen.
When your body is using oxygen to create energy, the process does not create a lot of waste. The body uses a sugar molecule (glucose) and burns it up. It grabs the energy from burning it up and stores it in something called ATP. It actually creates quite a bit of ATP.
The second method does not use oxygen. It does make ATP but not a lot of it. But the bigger problem is that it creates a lot of waste.
One of the big forms of waste is something called lactic acid.
OK, so if you have been running outside for a while. The weather is cold. Cold causes your body to not pump as much blood to the muscles. SO the muscles have less oxygen. SO they use the second method of making energy. That is going to create a lot of waste. Which your body has to pump out of the muscles. Because if it doesn't pump out the waste, it makes the muscles cramp.
Can you run in cold weather? Sure, but you are going to feel more crampy when you do it. You are not hurting yourself, but you might want to consider a hot shower or bath after to get rid of all of the waste. Because heat gets blood flowing and will carry a lot of that waste away.