Many distance runners use the winter months to establish a solid base of high mileage. Running in cold weather is possible, and even comfortable because of the built-in protective mechanisms brought into operation by your body.
Sixty-one percent of the fuel your body burns goes into heat production, and the remaining 39 percent drives your muscles. If you exercise hard enough to increase your metabolism tenfold, you'll produce ten times as much heat but will not change this ratio of heat and muscle distribution.
When dressing for cold weather runs, it is most important to utilize the layered clothing methods. This method is most efficient because air (which is an excellent insulator) is trapped between each layer.
It should be remembered that even in the coldest weather, vigorous exercise can cause you to sweat heavily. Regarding footwear, consider the waterproof ones. The waterproof protection will keep your feet dry and allows a breathable network for internal moisture to be released. One to consider is Brooks Ghost, which I am personally using, made with Gor-tex membrane for waterproof protection.
I also find that I wear pretty much the same shoes in winter that I've been using year-round, but they are sprayed with "heavy-duty" silicone to keep out the moisture. There is a real danger with frostbite of the feet when running shoes get wet.
A final cold weather running tip: Plot your course so that you run against the wind on your way out, and with the wind on your way home. Otherwise, you will form sweat on your body at the beginning of your run, and the wind will blow through your clothes on the way back causing the sweat to evaporate and make you feel even colder.
Dr. Robert F. Weiss, a Sport Podiatrist, was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Dr. Weiss has a practice in Darien: The Foot & Ankle Institute of Darien, and he is a veteran of 35 marathons. For more information, visit www.therunningdoctor.net.