Have you ever gone on a run in scorching hot weather, and come back to feel that you could drink gallons upon gallons of water … you’re just dripping with sweat, burning hot, and absolutely parched? (picture source)
How about when you come home from a run in freezing cold weather … do you feel the same? Want to guzzle a gallon of water? (picture source)
Yeah … me neither. I’ve already explained the importance of water and how up to 75% of Americans are already dehydrated, and I’m pretty good at drinking water throughout the day, but I’ve always noticed that running in the extreme cold just doesn’t leave me as thirsty post-run as exercising in hot temperatures. Maybe because I sweat far less when it’s cold, or because I was so focused on getting into a hot shower after a cold run, I always thought it was fine to be a little more lax on rehydration after my cold weather runs. But it’s not!!
Did you know that it’s actually possible to get MORE dehydrated while exercising in cold weather? I am not going to go into many details here (read this study write-up for a better explanation), here are the basics: as your body loses water from exercising, your blood volume usually decreases. But in cold weather, your body goes to extra work to direct blood away from your extremities and into your core (to protect your vital organs). So, the mechanisms that usually encourage you to rehydrate (including decreased urine production and increased thirst) don’t happen during cold weather, and you don’t feel like you need to rehydrate. The study cites decreased thirst by up to 40% in colder weather!
Unfortunately, it’s often harder to drink water during your workout when it’s cold outside. I usually plan my runs to go by public water fountains, but they’re generally shut off when temperatures dip below freezing). So, for “normal” runs (about an hour for me), I’m trying to focus on rehydrating after the run. When my race was cancelled this weekend due to ice, I brought my Nathan hydration pack with me on my longer run. I thought the water would freeze since the temperature was 22 degrees Fahrenheit, but the combination of my body heat and the movement kept it liquid the entire time! (If you missed my post on dressing for cold weather exercise, check it out … I definitely needed to follow those tips this past weekend, and I got a chance to remember how much wearing Yaktrax and dodging ice patches slow you down!)
**If you’re still looking for a holiday gift for a runner or athlete in your life, I’m going to have a product review coming soon that you may be interested in! Stay tuned!**
So tell me in the comments … Do you tend to be less thirsty in the cold weather? Any tips for cold weather exercise?