Triathlons In the Cold With Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): Use Hand and Foot Warmers

Cold with peripheral arterial disease
Boy, that was a cold wet race. My friend Tracey, who also did the race, took this photo after I changed into warm dry clothes.

Wet conditions in the cold, 42 degrees F and cold rain. Cold with peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a bad combination. It makes claudication and foot numbness worse as our bodies work to conserve core temperature by reducing peripheral blood flow. This makes a bad (PAD) situation worse. I managed to complete that Azalea Sprint last weekend. As I came soaking wet and frozen off the bike, I couldn’t feel my hands and feet. This made it impossible to get my bike helmet off. I looked around and plenty of others were struggling with the same problem.

Fortunately, I’d placed foot warmers in my running shoes before the swim. I pushed my hands into my running shoes to thaw them out, took of my helmet, put on the shoes, and headed off on the usual PAD nightmare, running.

I applied all the tricks in my book for the run, plus a couple of new ones (see below).

cold with peripheral arterial disease
Took me seven years to work this out, one piece at a time, to improve blood flow while running. The book is available via this link.

The two new tricks:

  1. If you have trouble flexing and spreading your toes, as described in the book, flex and spread your fingers and your toes on the same (ipsilateral) side will copy your hands. It’s true, believe me.
  2. When choosing shoes, the distance you walk or run can be critical. I used Nike Frees with wool socks, until I started pushing the distance. After about five miles the soles of my feet became extremely sore. Having read that great book, “Born to Run,” I decided to try regular running shoes, (Saucony) without socks. Worked like charm, even with foot warmers. Not easy, of course, but somewhat “charming.”

The trick is, keep experimenting to find what works for you.

Best of luck, and never give up.

By the way, you can sign up for my weekly newsletter via my writer’s website via this link.

All the best.

-kev aka FitOldDog

cold with peripheral arterial disease
MRI scans through the thighs of three guys. Grey is muscle, white is fat, clear ring around the central white spot (bone marrow) is the femoral bone. Note the loss of both muscle and bone mass in the sedentary guy.


  1. Good information.

    Keep it going.


    RWR 851

    Reflections Upon the Great Existential Puzzlement of the Ages, Namely, “The Meaning of Life”

  2. Hi Donald, the meaning of life, a great movie. I guess it’s what we each make it, -kev

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.