Reader To Reader: Baby it’s cold outside


Sub-zero temperatures aren't very inviting, but at least running quickly gets the blood flowing and the body temperature cooking. In theory, anyway. One RW reader revealed on the forum that her legs never warm up when she's running in the cold...

"I went for a 10-mile run yesterday in very cold temperatures, wearing my usual leggings and light jacket. I realised as I ran that my leg muscles were actually numb. I thought leg movement whilst running would warm them up, but I had no feeling in them at all! Is there a risk of doing damage? My legs feel very stiff this morning, despite stretching when I got home. Any comments?"Bella



Your best answers

  • Keep your torso warm, and the legs will follow
    Are you sure it's your legs that are the problem? When your torso and head get cold, your body reduces the bloodflow to the body extremities because it's trying to concentrate on keeping your vital organs and brain warm. That's why your hands and feet get cold. Sometimes it's better to wear a windproof such as a Montane Featherlite, a top and a hat like a Berghaus Powerstretch, and concentrating on keeping your torso warm. You may even get away with running in shorts, which means sweating less. – FrankBooth
  • Get some Gore Tex garb
    It's worth investing in a pair of Gore tights, such as the Mythos ones. They may be expensive but they keep the legs warm and allow you to get on with the run without problems. The quad muscles have good blood supply, so, for them to feel numb, one of two things must have happened: either the blood was shunted to help the running and ignored the need to keep the muscles warm, or your core temperature was threatened with a significant drop, so the circulation prioritised brain and upper body (when lungs, liver, heart need to keep warm) and left the lower limbs very cold. My wife and I bought a jacket/trouser Mythos Gore-Tex windstopper running outfit last month and use it whenever rain/cold/wind threaten to cut a run short. – MinasC
  • Another vote for Gore
    I suffer from the cold big time, so I bought the Lady Gore Mythos jacket and tights last month, after a rave review in RW. They are absolutely fabulous. Cost around £200 for the lot, and worth every penny. I stick them on with a Helly Hanson base layer top underneath, and I'm warm as toast. I can go out at about 4.30am with this kit and a beanie hat and gloves on, and not get cold. Brookes Nightlife tights and matching top are also nice and warm, though not the same spec as the Gore. Again, nice base layer to go under the top. – Little Lizard
  • Pack on the breathable layers
    When it's this cold I run in short (to the knee) and running tights, with long winter-weight running tights over the top. My legs stay nice and warm, but the tights are breathable so I don't get too hot. – Olive Oyl
  • Invest in Sugoi MidZero tights
    I got similar problems with my legs last winter, mainly because of wind-chill (I do most of my running in Blackpool). My legs felt really stiff and it affected my running – sometimes the run was over and I still hadn't warmed up. I bought a pair of Sugoi MidZero tights, which are fleecy on the inside, and they've made a huge difference to my legs. The tights are actually quite thin, but my legs warm up and my running feels much looser. They also allow me to get away with wearing a thin layer and a thin jacket on top, as I'm not working as hard to keep warm. I was quite worried I'd overheat in them, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I tried running once in my thicker fleece-lined cycling tights once and was sweating cobs... – tattiefritter
  • This may be a 'girl thing'
    Your muscles are probably plenty warm enough – it's just the outer layer of fat that feels cold because it doesn't have as many blood vessels running through it. But the general numbness will make it feel as if your muscles are stiff. I think women suffer from this problem more than men because we tend to have more fat, which might explain why lots of men can still run in skimpy shorts in winter while we're all lagged up in our leggings. I've considered wearing a normal pair of ladies tights underneath my leggings, but haven't tried it yet. – Juliefrazz
  • Icebreakers will keep you warm
    I had a long slow run last night wearing Icebreaker wool leggings under fleecy Lowe Alpine tights, and I was wonderfully toasty. I knew there was a reason why I bought loads of winter hillwalking gear in August! – Velociraptor
  • The magic of hats
    Last week I went out with my club, had no motivation: I was constantly cold; arms and everywhere. It was the first time for a while that I hadn't worn my little hat (100% polyester from Sainsbury's), because I thought it would make me over-heat. I think I've proved that I need to wear the hat – I can just shove it down my tights when I get hot! – SwimsLikeAWalrus
  • Emigrate
    Wear your leggings and a pair of tracksuit bottoms, or move to Botswana. – IronDuke
  • Also check out these forum threads:
    Winter Wear
    Freezing Legs!!
    Cold weather running


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