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Tips, Tricks and Gear Recommendations for Chicago Runners

How Cold is Too Cold to Run?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Most outdoor runners despise the treadmill. Once you've had fresh air and beautiful scenery, it's hard to knock out a long run on a conveyor belt. But with such volatile weather here, you have to know when to throw in the towel. This week may have you wondering: how cold is too cold to run? 

    When it comes to cold weather, it's not so much the temperature as the wind chill factor that dictates your ability to run, according to Core Performance. Wind will essentially whip your natural body heat away from you much faster than you'd expect, leaving you pretty defenseless to scary things like hypothermia and frostbite. Skin temperatures at 68 degrees begin to physically hurt, and if you look at the National Weather Service's chart on wind chill, you can even see how long frostbite will take to set in (as little as 5 to 10 minutes). 

    A good rule of thumb to follow is that if it's -20 degrees Fahrenheit (wind chill included), stay inside at all costs. If it's between that and 25 degrees F, running can be done with proper precautions for cold weather, but if you have a medical condition, you should check with your doctor before suiting up. 

    So with a high of -11 on Monday, it's going to be bitter and treacherous outside. The National Weather Service has issued a warning of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit below zero on Monday afternoon, which definitely means you should stick to the treadmill for the next few days. Once that threat has passed, you can try duct tape shoes and a Vaseline nose like they do in Canada, but for now, it's definitely too cold!