Most of you know that I am a regular runner and that I live in the mild, wet climate of Vancouver, BC on Canada’s west coast. We have amazing summer weather that isn’t blisteringly hot and/or humid as it
is in the vast majority of the country. The rest of the year is also warmer than the rest of the country, and we get almost no snow, but it’s wet, wet, wet! It’s not that our weather makes running prohibitive, but it does take a little more commitment to keep your running schedule going in the face of pelting rain.
I always feel better when I face up to the gloomy wet weather and run headlong into it, as is the case with a lot of things that require a little extra motivation, but it’s always a little harder to get out there and just do it. Here are a few tips to get you past that initial hump to help you “run in the rain” in whatever context this metaphor applies.
1. Get equipped. Minimize your discomfort by equipping yourself to handle the elements you face. To run in the cold, wet rain, I have running gloves, a breathable water-resistant running jacket, and a nylon running cap that keeps the rain off my face. These things minimize the initial shock when I go out, and as I get warmed up, the weather doesn’t even bother me any more. Consider what equipment or tools you could get to minimize whatever your particular discomfort is in getting started, whether it’s comfortable workout wear for going to the gym, incense to burn to help create a nice atmosphere for meditating, etc.
2. Follow a routine. It’s a lot easier to keep at something if you create a routine for yourself and stick to it. So even when the circumstances are less than ideal, your body/mind comes to expect the behaviour, making it less of a chore and more of a drive simply because it feels good.
3. Find things to appreciate. While I run in the rain, I always take the opportunity to appreciate the differences in my running environment, the rain water pitter-pattering on the leaves in the trees, the power of the gushing water flowing through creeks and drains, the fresh rain smell that permeates the air, or even the feeling of my body being warmed in a hot shower, shaking off the chill. What things can you appreciate in your own situation? It could be the quiet of early morning as you meditate before dawn, or the invigorating feeling your muscles have after a workout. Find these things and relish them.
4. Reward yourself. I’ve gotten to the point that the run itself is the reward, but there was a point when I needed a little extra motivation, some sort of small indulgence to look forward to. In my case I would make a cup of hot tea and curl up in a blanket next to the fireplace. I liked this because it helped take the edge off the cold as well as giving me something to look forward to after my rain run. The trick is to find something that makes you feel good but doesn’t derail your efforts. Like if working out is your “rain run” I wouldn’t suggest eating a big ice cream sundae as your reward, but perhaps a nice hot bath in Epsom salts and essential oils to help soothe your muscles. Or if your goal is a regular pre-dawn meditation practice, maybe brew yourself a nice cup of coffee with freshly ground beans afterwards, rather than going back to bed and sleeping another 5 hours. You get the idea.
Sometimes the rain will be so bad that running is just not practical, and I have no choice but to give it a miss. If the rains are torrential to the point of being unsafe, or my body and mind are just not where they need to be to take on the rain run, there’s no sense in forcing it. There is a difference between commitment and the kind of militant approach that can lead to burn-out. You can always do something else to replace it. You can run on a treadmill, or do some other form of exercise if running is your activity. If your goal is just working out, do a lighter activity like going for a long walk instead. Or if you didn’t wake up in time for your pre-dawn meditation, meditate when you do get up. If you have to take a break that day for whatever reason, don’t let it derail your overall practice. Get back on schedule as soon as you can and do your best to keep your routine. There is no point in beating yourself up over it. Just pick yourself up and move on.
What sorts of things do you do to keep yourself “running in the rain”? Please share in the comments.