Cold weather running

I am finding that my HR is about 20 beats higher in this cold spell we are having. This means that what is normally a slow run has my heart acting as if its on a speed session.

I get breathless as if I have done a speed session even when running easy. I do not get wheezy though. Tried running with a scarf today, and sucking menthol chewing gum, to no avail.

Im sure the doctor would just send me away as I am normal in other respects. Are there any tips anyone can suggest?? Sensible ones please.


  • Hi KB, I'm so pleased you posted this message as i'm having the same problem, only been running 6 months so cold weather running is all new to me! HR used to be around 150-153bpm on long slow runs but for the last month or so I can't seem to get it below 162 and it's frequently 167 on average, haven't up'd mileage much just trying to get a good base for the summer months, hadn't thought about it just being down to the cold weather...

    I'm sure some experienced peeps will be along soon to offer some constructive advice...
  • FP, I am so glad I am not the only one. Its difficult to explain to folk, they seem to think Im just being a wimp, but I really do suffer!! And the change just in one week (since when it was milder) is quite dramatic.

    What I would like to know from anyone, is there anything that you can buy over the counter to help me breathe more easily?? I dont think "Tunes" (the sweets) will do it will it???
  • wow, just come here tonight to post/find out about this very thing!!! this is my first time running outside in very cold weather and yeah, it's been a fact, and I hate to say this, but I'll be using the gym this week, just until it warms up a little. Scottyland is feeling very chilly :)
  • I am struggling with the running in the cold. I thought it was the off/on cold I seem to have had for weeks. I had to lay off for 2 weeks rest as advised by the Doctor I went to see. Thought it might have been the fact my fitness level going down due to having what feels like a permanent cold. I just got my HRM so I am still getting used to it. I know I used to have the same problem cycling in very cold weather. I managed 10 mins yesterday at slow pace and I had to stop and walk for 2 mins recovery, then did a brill 12 mins. (was supposed to be doing a 20 min run)!! Yet on saturday I managed 15 mins no problem. I thought it might have been something to do with me being asthmatic. I remember someone saying that the air is thinner when its colder and you tend to breathe harder during exertion but dunno if its true or not???
  • I have read somewhere that your body will work harder in cold weather to maintain it's temperature so it is normal for your HR to be high when it is cold. You have nothing to worry about at all
  • DD......... even up to 20 beats higher?? Would welcome your thoughts. Whtas the best training to do when it is so cold, short get-it-over-with stuff or slow long ones where you end up walking??
  • Hi just found this thread. I have been running in the gym 4 days a week for 3 months and my fitness is quite good. I ran outside this morning and I cannot believe how much I struggled with the cold?! It was my breathing more than anything. My chest actually hurt and I was wheezing and had to walk the rest of the run as breathing was really hard. its about an hour now after my run and I am still wheezing and chest feels like I need a good cough. Hope I have not done any damage? Anyone else had this before? I have run outside before and been fine but today was especially cold! Thanks in advance image
  • There's no doubt it takes time to become acclimatised to runing in the cold - I really struggled to get my breath during a recent time trial during the first really cold weather we had. For me though once I'm used to it my heartrate is actually lower in the cold because I'm not overheating. I was two minutes faster on my 11 mile run yesterday yet my heartrate averaged 6 beats slower, and I'm sure that's because last week I was overheating as I was wearing a rain jacket.
  • B*gger. Looks like it's getting colder in the next few days. Not too fussed about running in the cold, but running on ice is another matter! The track is going to be frozen over again tomorrow which means intervals round the park in the dark, over pot-holes and under tree branches. Hard work and a little dangerous.

  • I've never noticed this before - 20 bpm is a lot.

    And its not interference on your HRM maybe from static from your extra layers ?
  • So I was reading everyones take on cold weather running and it's effects and decided to do an experiment of my own.

     Yesterday I braved the minus 1 temps and completed 13.5 miles. It took me 2:08:10, my avg HR was 145 BPM. I did the same run on November 22nd and it took me 2:09:31 with an average HR of 146 BPM.

     The cold weather obviously motivated me to get home quicker but no change in HR

    Basically, get your trainers on and get out there! I wrapped up warm with 3 thin tech layers, leggings, a hat and gloves - toastie but comfortable.

    Let me know how you get on!

  • I find running in the cold weather a bit of a shock to the system initially, especially breathing in the cold air for the first mile or so, but I have to say, once I'm warmed up I'm  fine. Certainly no adverse effects on my breathing or general performance (such as it is!), in fact I tend to do better in the cold and have an added spring in my step.

    I wonder if you just need to allow a little extra time to get warmed up at the start of your run?

    I tend to leave the house, the bracing cold hits me and I always think I should have put on an extra layer, but I know a couple of miles down the road I'll be toasty and warm and just need to stick it out for the first few minutes.

  • Same for me today but it eased off after a couple of miles. Keep it handy at the start and you will adjust quicker.
  • Did a 7.2 mile run in 1:07 in temperature of -5C on Tuesday night. Was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, plus hat and gloves

    Average HR was 185 (how do you people keep it down to 140-150????) which is a bit (about 5) more than usual, which may be down to the cold, but certainly it is not +20, that would make my average HR about 200, which I think would kill me if I kept it up for an hour

  • when it's very cold, your body draws blood away from your extremeties and into your "core", in order to keep warm.  this can reduce blood supply to muscles, and therefore make your heart have to work harder in order to supply the same amount of oxygen.

     easy solutions: 

    1 wear a warmer long sleeved top, good gloves and a hat

    2 run slower

    3 as noted above, warm up properly (ie a lot more than usual) first

  • I agree, I can normally do 6miles but I have only been able to do 4.5miles in this cold weather and I feel like I can't breathe properly and I am sooooo much more tired than usual. I am really out of breath when I get home when normally I can hold a conversation.  I do have asthma but very mild...

    I am contimplating the gym until it warms up....

  • I ran intervals on Tuesday night and it was -12C when I started.  The air was painfully cold at first and I wishes I'd put a balaclava on.  Anyway, I warmed up after a while.  The key thing I did to give me some extra insulation was to wear two pairs of running tights, one on top of the other.  It was surprisingly comfortable.

    My nostril hairs and eyelashes still froze together though. I had put some face cream and vaseline on before the run to protect my skin.

  • I am really struggling in the cold weather too. Just can't breathe especially when I try to push the pace during time trials & races. It leaves me very wheazy for a few hours afterwards too. I have mild asthma & I do take some Ventolin before I run but it doesn't seem to help. I also get blue lips, ECG has ruled out any problems. Seems to be a hereditary circulation problem but it scares the hell out of running partners!!

  • Maybe try lipstick?  Might not help your ventriquils but it won't give your running mates a heart attack


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