How To Love a Good Run In the Rain

Confession: I have not always loved running in the rain. In junior high and high school cross country, it meant slogging through seemingly endless miles of mud and yuck soaked to the bone in my cotton uniform to a finish line that looked like a brown Slip ‘n Slide only to ride home on a bus with a bunch of sweaty, dirty, smelly, filthy runners. Yuck.

Bless the Obi-wans for coming out to those cross country races and standing in the rain to watch me trudge past them. It could not have been fun for them, either.

Today is SO different. I love the rain. I ran one of my favorite 21 mile training runs in the rain all over Manhattan a couple of years ago. The park is quieter, the runners are nicer and there’s something more peaceful about a run in the rain than in any other weather. The other piece of the puzzle is my beloved gear. Thank heavens for lululemon!! I mean, good clothes really make running in inclimate weather not only possible, but enjoyable.

But it’s not always roses and puppies out there. You have to be in the right mind-set and prepare yourself for a few key situations when heading out for a run in the rain. Here is a sure-fire way to have a great run in the rain, in my experience.

#1. Leave your watch/Garmin/iPod at home. The rain (and likely, the wind) will probably slow you down a little. Plus, it’s better to keep your focus on the road/trail when it’s slick and only made more slippery by fallen leaves. Unplug and enjoy the scenery.

#2. Dress for success. Wear fitted, moisture-wicking clothing and a hat or a visor. Loose stuff will whack against your skin and get heavier with every mile, especially if it’s not a good tech fiber. Here’s what I wore today:

         

Turbo TankSpeedy Run Hat, Run: For Your Life Crops & the very fabulous (and now unavailable) Run: Essential Jacket. Rain usually means a sweaty, humid run for me so I don’t like to layer it up too much under my jacket. The hat is so key for me because nothing spoils a run like problems with my contact lenses.  Also, braids for the win!

#3. Plan on getting wet. Sounds silly, right? But, if you need to be back at your desk 5 minutes after your run and you have nowhere to shower and towel off, you probably want to save your run for a time when you can. This goes for your shoes, too. Probably not a day for a double-down in the gym after your soggy, beautiful run because they will look like this:

 

Sopping. Soggy. Wet. Dirty. Basically unwearable. Dry overnight.

#4. Treat it like a fun run. Don’t try and do a massive amount of speed work or some crazy mileage on a rainy day. Go out, do your best, get ‘er done and all that, but keep it light and don’t expect too much. Dodging umbrellas on 5th Avenue always slows me down, but if I plan for it, it’s not nearly as aggravating.

#5. Just do it, already! Commit. Don’t complain. Don’t procrastinate. Get out there and run. Running in the rain is akin to reliving childhood moments so enjoy it!

Now go out and run!

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Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays: Summer Rain Showers

Hey there! It’s another edition of Better Than the Alternative Tuesdays where we share with each other why it’s so much better to be here rather than not. I know I keep commenting on the weather, but my GOD it is hot out there! Last week, I ran in 95° heat with 67% humidity at EIGHT O’CLOCK AT NIGHT. I was the opposite of happy about that, but there was nothing else to do because the heatwave was going nowhere all week long. It was a very long week for us runners. I’m sure you’ve been experiencing the same torture since, apparently, the entire country has been engulfed in molten lava.

(July 22, 2011) We're having a heat waaaave, a tropical heat waaaave. (Picture property of NOAA http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov)

On to the “better” part of this post. It rained yesterday afternoon. I knew it was supposed to sprinkle a bit and decided I would try to run anyway since it was my choice time to get my 6 miles in. It was glorious! Sure, it was raining. Sure, my shoes were small swimming pools by the end. Sure, I was soaking wet. But guess what? Every single runner I passed in Central Park SMILED AT ME AND SAID HELLO (I am a little like Kanye with the capital letters toay). For those of you who live in or have ever run in NYC, you know that this is a rare occurence. I have missed this part of suburb running. On the Highline Canal in Colorado, people say “good morning” to you so much it actually becomes kind of annoying after a while (there are a lot of runners there), but I have never experienced this in NYC. I LOVE that the weather brought out the smiles in all 10 people who braved the showers yesterday at 4pm. Thank you for your smiles, runners. It made my day. AND it cooled this very hot city off and brought our temperatures down to a manageable mid-80’s. Phew!

Holy pouring rain, Batman!

You see? Even when it’s raining and it could be miserable out there, someone runs by and smiles and it’s not so bad anymore. It’s reason enough for me to lace up my sneakers when I see the clouds forming on the West side on a summer day! And to think I might have missed such an uplifting run if I had gotten all down on the day because it was raining…tsk, tsk. Nope, I’m going to embrace the rain (within reason) and the heat (hot yoga actually prepares me well for hot running) and summer running because it’s way better than the alternative.

Now go out and run! (even if it’s raining) But first, tell me: what is it in your world that makes it Better Than the Alternative today?