Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Running In The Rain

Believe it or not, you can learn a lot about running in the rain. Just running outside in good weather can expand your views and give you a breath of fresh air. So why run in the rain when treadmills are so readily available?

Many would argue that there are physical benefits to running outside. I'm sure you've heard them before. For me, running in the rain has it's own rewards that go above and beyond running in the sun. From a stronger psyche to a healthy dose of safety, the benefits outweigh the risks.

First, there's the benefit of that "hardcore" feeling. If you've ever run in the rain, or any adverse weather for that matter, you know what I'm talking about. That feeling of being a bad ass because you just pounded out eight miles in the rain. This is something that's hard to measure, but for me, I feel about ten times stronger when I run in the rain. Stronger mentally and physically. After all, it's hard to dodge all those rain drops so I don't melt.

Second, there is a measurable difference in your weight when you run in the rain. Even though our shoes and clothes add to our workout, we don't think of them as being heavy when we run. In fact, on a nice summer day, that shirt feels nice and light against our skin. But in the rain, that shirt soaks up some sweat and a ton of rain. So do your shoes. In fact, the last time I ran in the rain, I lost eight pounds when I stripped down to my underwear. The next time you run on a nice sunny day, take an eight pound weight with you and see how you do.

Next, there's the clothes. I've always heard that you dress for the weather as if it were twenty degrees warmer. So if it's 50 degrees out, dress like it's 70 degrees instead. And this general rule makes sense because we heat up as we run. But when it rains, you need to adjust that figure by 5 or even 10 degrees. So instead of dressing for 70 degrees, you might want to make it 60 degrees. And in some extremes, like winter, it might be even more.

It just isn't dressing warmer either. It means you have to dress smarter. Think back to when you were a kid and you wet your pants. Didn't your underwear chafe? Mine sure did. So you have to think about ever little thing and how it reacts to a good soaking. Will those socks stay warm? Will that shirt rub your nipples raw? You may not be able to stay dry, but you can still stay comfortable.

Safety is next. And it's a big one. We always want to be safe when we run, especially when we're on the road with cars, animals, and other sources of danger. Think about driving in the rain. You take things a little slower because it's harder to see, right? If it's harder to see the road, it's going to be harder to see that runner. As a runner, this means you need to be much more proactive about your safety and think about how best to make yourself visible. Are you wearing bright colors? Flashing lights? A headlamp or flashlight?

Let's not forget the fun factor. Sure, we're being safe, we're staying warm, and we're feeling pretty hardcore about running in the rain. But isn't it just a little bit fun? During my last two runs in the rain, we had a pretty good soaking. Within ten minutes I could have been drier if I jumped into a pool. So I made sure to enjoy that big puddle near the turn-around. My shoes and socks were already wet so running and splashing through a giant puddle wouldn't hurt. So I let a little giggle out as I reverted back to my childhood.

Finally, there's the recovery from the rainy day run. You learn to take care of your equipment when you get them soaked through. I'm not just talking about your clothes either. Those are simple. Air dry until laundry day. But that headlamps needs to dry out. And so do your shoes. And don't stick them in the drier either. Put some newspaper in them (after you take out the liner) and let them air dry. So it takes a bit of planing to run in the rain. After all, you won't want to run in those wet shoes tomorrow when the sun is out.


Tricia said...

I've kind of been *hoping* for rain on a training run lately, simply to have the experience

TK42ONE said...

Tricia - After a few longer runs in the rain, I could use a break! But I'd still choose the rain over the treadmill if I had a choice.

Sam Hardman said...

You've got me pretty excited about this. I can't wait for it to rain. Even if it not a running day for me, I'm going. Not so much for the fun part, although that sounds like a good time, but to feel like a bad ass. I do love feeling like a bad ass!!

TK42ONE said...

Sam - Glad to hear you want to feel like a bad ass. Let us know how it went and what you learned. And if you kicked any asses!