You need to take special precautions if you wish to exercise in severe environmental conditions (see post 4). For more mild conditions, I advise runners not to exercise vigorously in the very early morning if the temperature is very cold (below freezing). The likelihood of developing upper respiratory tract infections seems to increase if one consistently trains very hard in very cold air. Also, wear rainproof clothing if it is raining heavily and a strong wind is blowing. Wind
Increases the windchill factor, and if your clothes are wet you could develop a critical reduction in body temperature (hypothermia) if you run for too long under such conditions (see post 4).
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This advice differs slightly from that of Newton, who, as a competitive runner, was less inclined to let the weather affect his training. He also observed correctly, despite incorrect reasoning, that running in the cold weather is altogether less taxing than is running in the heat.
Don’t Let Running Become Just Another Stress
I frequently see runners who can’t understand why they are unable to work and run hard at the same time. They are unaware that running is an additional stress that, when added to their already highly stressful lifestyles, may prove too much.
Runners are usually people involved in many demanding activities, each of which we try to do with the same perfection we desire of our running. But once the total stress from all our various activities exceeds our stress-coping capacities, then we will in time break down, the most obvious indication of which is the overtraining syndrome. A typical example of this phenomenon is that of a runner who wrote to me.
This runner tried to combine training for the standard marathon with a very heavy work load. This meant he had to run early in the morning under very cold conditions and often had to work very late. Added to this were the stresses of a high-powered business environment, all of which led to recurring bouts of flu. Although he aimed to run a 3:30 marathon, he was forced to walk from 23 km to the finish and completed the distance in a shade under 5 hours. The athlete stayed in bed for the next 3 days.
This neophyte runner thought he could add the stress of running to his already overstuffed life without taking something else away to make room. By getting up early he was reducing his sleep; worse, he was running in very cold air temperatures, which increase the likelihood of respiratory infection. A vicious cycle developed in which he was simply becoming progressively more fatigued and therefore less able to cope not only with running but also with all the other aspects of his life.