Running in the Rain

Let’s face it: as much as I love it, sometimes running isn’t as graceful as it appears. There are some days that my body feels creaky, like my legs need a little extra oil to move faster and easier. On days that boast beautiful weather and scenery, it’s easier to settle in and enjoy the ride. On other days, like this morning, I’ve historically avoided going out for a rainy run and locking in on the treadmill, instead.

I know I can’t be the only one who has made the conscious decision to not train in the rain. Indeed, it’s a far more pleasant way to spend an hour or more inside a cozy gym on a treadmill, with a towel and water at your fingertips, instead of braving the elements and risking getting soaked. 

One major reason for staying indoors was that I didn’t want to wreck my shoes! A stray splash in an unexpected puddle, mud from a saturated trail, and accelerated bacteria growth in the shoe are all reasons I wouldn’t go outside. In the back of my mind, I know I do have an older pair of shoes that I could lace up for just today, but I can’t bring myself to do it! 

But today, my attitude toward running in the rain took a turn. As runners tend to do, in the week and change before a race, we hawk the weather forecast. I’ve become obsessed with knowing what the weather will be like during the Canada Army Run Half Marathon that I’ll be running September 17. Yesterday it said 70% POP. Today it’s changed to just cloudy. 

I was shocked by the butterflies that arose in my chest when I saw that original forecast. I feel wholeheartedly prepared to run a PR of 1h 30m in the half marathon. I have been training for 6 months to get to this point, and have covered the distance and more numerous times. I am the kind of person who doesn’t go half way. I like to think I have done all I could do to train effectively for this race. 

The worry came from something outside of my control: the weather. I never really trained in the rain, so how would I respond to those conditions in a race? Would I have to adjust my strategy? How will my stride be impacted? My breathing? These were all concerns that, as endurance runners, we measure and then re-measure.

This morning the conditions for my run were light rain, cool breeze and dark skies looming. At times I cut through a steady mist that hung in the air, remnants of an overnight fog that would not go away. Water dropped from my eyebrows and my nose, but I felt strong. The air was fresh and cool in my lungs and I found a comfortable rhythm for my 8km recovery run.  

When I finished, I reflected on the experience. If it does rain for part or all of the Army Run, I will embrace it. Running is the most primal form of sport and it stems from a connection to humanity’s most natural state of motion, and connection to the Earth. Bringing rain into the equation romanticizes it, enhances it, and will not be avoided again in my training. While I may not be able to control the weather, I can control how I adapt to it. And like I said before, I always want to know I’ve done everything I could to be successful. 

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