tempo in nearly freezing temperature

It’s very cold here at this time of the year: 0-5 degrees every day.

When I’m doing tempo, I’m experiencing a very hard time breathing. At first I thought I have a breathing problem, because when I ran with my non-athlete friend the other day, he was cruising, while I could barely breathe.

A friend explained this as the phenomenon of "asthma of cross country skiers… Basically, when the athlete has low body fat in the abdomen area, and fairly strong muscles there, when the muscles are cold they contract more than usual and push against the diaphragm, hence the feeling of shortage of oxygen. Men experience this phenomenon less than women, because men’s abdomen is the area of concentration of whatever fat is in their body (please if this is all false information, correct all you want) so their temperature there is greater .
As the body slowly warms up and the muscles expand,(but problem is I cannot possibly warm up in this weather, unless I’m doing one big long run), the depth of the breathing is increased, and things feel better overall.

So the question here is: whether or not this ‘breathing suffering’ (during tempo), helps at all for the aerobic component and fitness of the 400 - meaning; is more work being done, as opposed to doing the same session in warm temperature?

Thanks in advance.

Where do you warm up? In similar situations I do that indoors (even in our lounge at home or the hallway at work), do you do much in the way of ab work in your warm up? I find that helps too.

Do you cover your mouth and nose with a scarf? If not try that.

Thank you for posting this!!! I thought something is wrong with me, I was really afraid that I am seriouslly overtrained as I wasn’t even able to finish big circuit last Saturday. And I was also experiencing severe soreness in abdominal muscles. Well, that explains everything. Thanks again for posting this!

As I come from the country bordering Italy (you’re from Italy right? :o :confused:) I experience the same weather at the momment.

Hey John, I’ve been told that warming up indoors and then doing the main training session outside, is a bad idea. I actually remember Nikoluski telling me this a WHILE back, during my Connecticut days (Nick??)

I think I would cover my mouth and nose with a scarf if the air was irritating my throat, but that is not the case. But if the abdomen contraction due to cold temperature is the actual problem, do you still think that would help? I suffocate more just thinking about it :o, but I could try.

No problem, glad I could help ! :slight_smile:
I am currently in Milan, but I’m not FROM Italy (God forbid… :p:o ).

I find sucking on a vics vapour lollie helps. As does rubbing a fair amount of Vics Vapour Rub on your throat n chest before running.

Helps heaps in really cold air.

double posting…

Do you think you can solve this by dressing in clothes that will help you retain more heat?

would be interested in this too as to me it falls in the “while it may not be ideal sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do” category and it is better to be warmed up rather than training cold. NOTE I am talking about walking speed actions, abs, dynamic stretches and sometimes drills.

Re the scarf, you should be ok if you don’t make it too tight or have a scarf that too thick. May not work but worth a crack. If you find you collapse due to a lack of oxygen then I suggest it isn’t worth proceeding :stuck_out_tongue:

I love Italian food!!

I don’t remember the Connecticut chat, lol, but I was probably referring to warming up for speed work and the possible contrast in temperature and muscles’ reaction when moving from in- to out-doors. In case of a tempo session I would add layers of clothes, increase general warm up duration obviously, completely avoid anything static (e.g., stretching, slow drills, etc) and go easy with range of motion. In any case, don’t train hard on such a day, not to ‘exhaustion’. If you think it will help you with this particular issue (i.e., abdomen area), add some easy core work indoors, try it. I would still prefer warming up outdoors altogether, but as John says do what you have to do. Others?

Edit: a tempo session is a tempo session -it helps with the ‘aerobic component and fitness’ as you say, but not for the 400 m per se, as 400 m speed isn’t there; if this is what you are asking.

This answer is actually what I was looking for, posting this thread :o.
Being in CT for 9 years, I pretty much know how to cope with the cold:o, but all feedback is nevertheless helpful!
I was looking more to see if this extra-lung workout that I experience has any benefits whatsoever.

The 400 is what, 5-10% aerobic? For non-elite athletes, it’s even more? So is it safe to assume that certain things done in the cold, stimulate certain parameters to a greater extend, and when gone to warmer weather, 300 repeats (for example), will be much easier on the lungs, hence perhaps the volume will be easier to increase later?
Just suggesting…

p.s. I know this is sprint-irrelevant, but from an aerobic/fitness point of view, Kenyans when training in Eldoret, experience negative temperature conditions (as low as -10 degrees Celsius), and then slowly transfer their training to sea level. There must be a logic there.

So, the editing saved the thread, wow!

Don’t let ‘Dejan school of thought’ relating to distance running influence ‘your school of thought’ relating to sprinting. As Charlie has taught us the % with regards to energy systems per running event has nothing to do with how someone may train (e.g., Charlie’s percentage ratio of tempo/speed work for the 100 m was 65/35, if I remember correctly).

The main issue in what you describe is the lack of relevant to 400-m pace. And as you’ve experienced, this makes the lungs work pretty hard! :slight_smile: For example, you can cause a similar effect to the one you describe while exercising under water. Despite having the chance to produce ‘lactacidaemia’ :stuck_out_tongue: under water (even this effect is absent in your tempo workouts, or should be), it’s not a method you would consider unless you are, say, injured and you wanted a non-pounding activity. I hope this helps a bit.

Yes it did =)
The ‘Dejan school of thought’ :stuck_out_tongue: is not only his ‘fault’; I always ask questions (as you know) about things, and then everything gets mixed up inside of my head, or I try and create Stef-theories that suit my present situation, which obviously is not ideal.

Nick, are you saying that lactic acidosis is always produced when running in water? (I agree that it does, if that’s the case).

I find your post very illuminating overall…

Since the Metro Track and Field Centre at York University caught fire this year, we’ve had to make do with working outdoors or in a hockey arena wayyy longer than normal.

My coach does a “long warmup” that we do when we work in cooler outdoor weather. It’s perfect for tempo days because the warmup itself is a bit tiring.

It basically substitutes any walking during the drills with a jog back. You’ll get warm in a hurry cutting the walking out between warmup drills. Of course, you have to use common sense, if you usually do 20m to 30m A-run, you may want to shorten it a bit and cut it into more sets, (i.e. 2x15m or 2x10m) with jog back recovery, etc.

The long warmup we use goes something like this ("*" denotes jog-back recovery)

20m cross-arm jog*
20m skipping with arm swings x 2*
20m side hops down - back,
20m front crossovers*
20m buttkickers*
20m carioca down - back*
20m straight leg bound*
20m fast leg*

short rest

(all the below is optional- if we do drills, he usually cuts the tempo volume a bit)

15m various lunges x 3*

short rest

15m A-skip x 2*
15m A-run x 2*
15m A-run quick tempo x2*

The other thing I notice is that a lot of people don’t layer properly (like my Texan friends- they have no clue how to dress in cold weather).

On the upper body I find a moisture wicking base layer, then a thin long sleeved fleece, then a windbreaking outer shell keeps me warm but not too hot. If you want to get fancy, get an outer shell with underarm zippers (like distance runners wear) so you can modulate the temperature a bit.

On the bottom Underarmour Coldgear type tights with a windbreaking layer over top that can be easily removed is usually good enough for me. Oh, and don’t forget some thin wind-resistant gloves!

I don’t know if this was helpful, but I find it works for us, and it’s quick!