We runners will go out in a lot of different weather conditions and generally it’s just fine. But what’s better? The cold of winter, or the heat of summer?

Since it’s the dog days of summer right now, I got to thinking about whether I prefer running in 30ºC heat (with humidity) or -15ºC cold with a wind chill. The two extremes are fairly different, but in general I think I’ll take the heat for a shorter run and the cold for a longer one.

Short vs Long

Over about 30 minutes or 5-6km, the heat isn’t really that big of a deal. It takes longer than that to get dehydrated and about when you hit that 30 minute mark is also about when you feel like stopping on a very warm day.

For a longer run of 10km or more and especially for a long Sunday run, the colder weather is preferable. Generally after a cold start, I can generate and trap enough heat to be quite comfortable even on a cold winter day. The only thing that might get cold is my hands, but some hand-warmers and good gloves solves that problem.

Like running long in the summer, running short in the winter is not that great. You never really warm up and because of that, it’s not pleasant to go out in the freezing cold for less than 5km. Conversely, those long runs in the summer are quite terrible as after about 30-45 minutes the sweat starts stinging in my eyes and the dehydration starts to kick in leading to an overall loss of energy and endurance.