Baby, It’s Cold … Inside

We all have different interpretations of what is “cold.”
By James Toland ,

It’s cold outside. And in the case of my box, it’s very cold inside, as well.

I’ve chronicled my issue with the temperature shutting down most outdoor activities in the Midwest. The rower becomes the cardio norm, and although we have roughed out a 100-yard lap at our affiliate, running workouts are almost nonexistent.

I don’t know what the percentage is of CrossFit affiliates that have heated facilities, but I do know that the one I train at does not. In the summer, we simply open the doors wide and use very large “barn” fans to push the heat and humidity through the box as we grind out our WODs. But when temperatures bottom out in January and February (we are looking at air temps about -12 degrees this Wednesday), the option of pumping heat into our space isn’t an easy fix.

Part of the issue is that our affiliate is in a massive warehouse that offers thousands of feet of space but whose original purpose was to store and refrigerate frozen seafood and other perishable items. When we first moved to this spot, the owners had to have a professional company come in to remove the multi-ton refrigeration units from the rafters of the building.

I don’t know the science behind training in cold temps or whether being cold (externally) is somehow detrimental to the body’s ability to train. I’m sure you could find studies that support both sides of the issue if you search hard enough. What I do know is the feel of an icy barbell in the early morning is something that has taken me some time to get used to. I know that jumping up to grab a Rogue pull-up bar and being able to hold on with frozen fingers might not be for everyone.

We all have different interpretations of what is “cold.” Last week, I interviewed a CrossFit Games athlete and asked her about the weather where she was in California because I heard that it had snowed a little. She remarked that it was “freezing” there because the temps had dipped below 50 degrees and it was tougher to train when it got “that cold.” I then informed her that it had hit 9 degrees here and that the wind chill was about -1 when I had gone into our box to do a version of “Annie,” which included air squats as a third component along with the traditional double-unders and sit-ups.

She agreed that mine sounded worse.

I did hear recently that the work put in during these chilly months are the most important in terms of performance during the Open and Regionals and, if you are one of the very chosen few, the CrossFit Games. While that won’t apply to an old grinder like me, I know that I always put in at least 20 WODs in January, regardless of the lack of warmth at our box.

Like my coaches always told me growing up, “The more you move, the warmer you’ll feel.” Can’t argue with that logic.

What is your experience training in cold weather (either outside or at a place that doesn’t have heat like ours). Share your stories and experiences in the comments.

Stay on the Grind.

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