In previous articles, I have discussed several facets of outdoor training in the winter. I have not only highlighted the potential of outdoor exercise, but I’ve also emphasized the significance of dressing appropriately. Extreme temperatures are nothing to take lightly. It is always important to prepare yourself for the elements around you.
For instance, last year I wrote the following:
“It’s vital that you keep the hands, head, and feet warm. Personally, I opt for waterproofed boots, gloves, and a winter hat. I also wear a ski mask if the wind is strong and always dress in layers. I prefer to wear three layers. The first layer is for wicking, the second for insulating, and the third for external protection…”
Considering that advice, I was not surprised to see some questions after I shared the following pictures to Instagram.
Many people asked if I had a change of heart in regards to winter attire. The reality however is that I still believe it is important to protect and prepare yourself for the elements around you. Over time, I have simply conditioned myself to handle temperatures that may have been too cold for me previously. As a result, there are times when I go outside in a t-shirt or even barefooted as seen above. I don’t stay outside too long, but I am able to perform some exercise without succumbing to the elements.
What’s The Point?
A natural follow up would be to ask what’s the point of conditioning yourself for colder temperatures. Personally, my initial reasons were unique to my situation. During the winter months, my gym becomes quite cold. The temperatures inside the gym are typically lower than outside. Once it gets cold, it stays cold throughout the season.
In previous years, I brought in small heaters to help warm the gym. Heat isn’t cheap though. It gets costly to warm a frigid garage gym. As a result, I eventually decided that I would train without heat. It has now been a few years since I used any heat for myself when training. Early on, I needed much more time to prepare for the cold. Gradually, I was able to improve my tolerance. Now, I am able to train in the frigid winter months without any problems. It isn’t an issue, where in previous years, I couldn’t wait for the summer.
Another reason that I conditioned myself for the cold was to challenge myself mentally. I am always looking for new ways to test mental toughness. Conditioning yourself to perform in extreme temperatures all but guarantees a mental battle. At some point, you will be forced to operate outside of your comfort zone. Training in the cold has improved my ability get comfortable being uncomfortable.
A great video that touches upon this topic can be seen below. Former Olympian Cary Kolat shares a story about a Mongolian wrestler that he encountered during his first trip to the world championships.
There will undoubtedly be readers who question my sanity after reading this entry. Before anyone comments, let me start by saying that I am not urging anyone to train in the cold. It is not necessary for most people to condition themselves for extreme temperatures. It is also worth noting that there are certain environments that can be potentially deadly if you are not dressed appropriately. Extreme heat or cold should never be taken lightly.
I am only writing this entry to share what has worked for me. My decision to train in the cold began as a money savings idea to reduce my heating bill. To my surprise, I was able to condition myself for colder temperatures than I would have ever imagined. I am quite pleased with the results as my outdoor sessions continue to improve from year to year.
“Mental toughness is to physical as four is to one.” – Bobby Knight