On Being Weatherproof

As a ballet dancer, my movement was not confined by the weather unless there was so much snow I couldn’t be driven to class or rehearsal. When I started coxing for my college boat club, I had my first brush with what Weather can do to a workout. Yes, Weather. Not just rain – sleet, snow, or ice. Often in Oxford it would somehow manage to be a combination of all four within a 4-hour period. In my first year of coxing, I suffered through multiple outings huddled in five layers of fleece topped with a rain jacket, gritting my teeth as precipitation pelted me and freezing as I sat still. Even the rowers had it better – at least they were moving. After that, I moved up to assigning the coxswains, and campaigned to schedule each week based solely on the expected conditions. I wasn’t one to dance in the rain, so why should I sit in it?

When I first started running, in the spring of 2013, it had been a long and dreary winter (I had no idea that a polar vortex was coming for us the following winter!) and being outside was one of the biggest perks. I honestly think I was able to get into running so quickly because I was tired of being cooped up indoors and just wanted to be out in the fresh air for longer and longer stretches of time. Even then, though, I skipped runs if it was raining. I still got out there 4 or 5 days every week. That continued for the initial months, until summer came. If I thought winter was cold, summer was HOT. That whole global warming thing is no joke, and it jolted me into rising early, just like I had during my coxing days, to beat the heat by running before I went to my summer internship.

 

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

Clouds and rain outdoors > in a gym on the dreadmill

One morning it was drizzling, and I decided to get outside anyway. I wouldn’t be wearing heavy clothes that got even heavier when soaked. Worth a shot. So I laced up and headed out. I realized it wasn’t so bad. And when the drizzle stopped and the clouds cleared, I was treated to a lovely rainbow ringing over the sun before I went back inside to shower and start my day. A switch had flipped. I didn’t really ease into running in Weather. When autumn arrived, I just kept wearing the baseball cap I’d worn in summer to keep the sun out – it keeps the rain off equally well. I ran right through my first real rainstorm in September getting ready for my first race.

 

 

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

If the park is like this in early March, the only option is to ignore the weather

When winter came? I just kept at it. I’ve always loved  the way snow turns our world into a winter wonderland – and running through it was better than rain! Ice held me up for a run or two until I figured out my tricks of the trade, and went dashing along happily through the frost. This past winter, I’ve only been kept inside once because of Weather (last year was about a week because of that pesky polar vortex!) Now, along the way, I’ve struggled to explain just why it’s worth it to me to get outside and on the run when it’s admittedly pretty awful out and most people would stay in on the couch with Netflix and cocoa. While my best friends are lovingly tolerant of my running-in-Weather habit, they don’t understand it. And casual acquaintances feel free to tell me I’m insane. I usually laugh it off, because the truth is, I get that it’s a little out of the ordinary. But to me, it isn’t crazy, because being outdoors and on the move is what makes me happiest. I’ve never regretted a single run, no matter how tricky or slippery it was.

 

But what was I supposed to call myself, if not a ‘crazy’ runner? I had no idea, until I found November Project. A group of people who get outside and wake up the sun with a workout no matter the weather. And I was finally able to describe myself – as #weatherproof. (NP loves hashtags, which I am still getting used to, because I am a Luddite.) The first morning I showed up was the first Wednesday of February and it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and there were easily 30+ people there ready to go. Last Wednesday was the first month-iversary of my coming to the workouts, and it also happened to be the 1st birthday of the New York City NP “Tribe” – so despite the snow and rain combining to create some sort of slush soup, 40 people came out to work out and celebrate. By running in circles around Carl Schurz Park through ankle-deep puddles of the slush soup.

It isn’t crazy, after all. It’s just being #weatherproof. (Please note that most of these people are way more badass than I am. I show up once a week or so, loving my slow solo runs on the other days. I’m an amateur athlete compared to most of NP!)

 

What do you think? Do you workout even in wild Weather?

 

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

Happy Birthday to NP NY!

 

 

 

 

 

© 2015 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.

Rules of Running in the Rain

I woke up this morning to the sound of raindrops on my window, alternately plonking gently onto the glass and pelting it with the force of 25mph winds. But I was determined to get outside for my planned run – the Disney Half Marathon is just over a month away, and I have a 15K race scheduled for this Saturday as a warm-up!

 

The division between runners who enjoy the rain, runners who tolerate and train in the rain, and runners who go back to bed when they look out the window and see a wet world is probably no different than in the general population. I waver between the first two categories depending on the exact conditions.  As long as it’s not freezing rain that causes my running tights to adhere to my legs and require a hairdryer to remove (yes, like the kid who stuck his tongue to a frozen flagpole in A Christmas Story) I tend to enjoy it though.

 

Running in the rain can be magical because you’re moving in such a different atmosphere. Heading into Central Park, full of crowds at all hours on a sunny day, you look around and see just a few other people – a groundskeeper in his golf cart off to fix a fence, a few locals walking their dogs clad in slickers and wellies (sometimes the dogs also sport these outfits), and of course, the other runners, here and there, the others who wanted to get out into the fresh air no matter what, who you greet with a glance that says, “Yes, I am just that crazy, and so are you, and we love it!” before you head your separate ways. You tread the same path as usual, skirting a few lakes that have formed in the pavement craters, enjoying the sound of the raindrops and the lack of crowds, savoring the solitude to be found in a watery world.

 

Running shoes, wellies, and umbrella - necessities for the day!

Running shoes, wellies, and umbrella – necessities for the day!

 

Call me crazy if you want. But as long as you follow these few, entirely unscientific rules, I think you might just enjoy running in the rain along with me!

1. Thou shalt wear a water-resistant rainslicker with a hood, if it is 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

2. Thou shalt wear a baseball cap under said hood, to keep the raindrops from pelting thy face.

3. Thou shalt wear socks made of Gore-Tex or some other non-cotton synthetic fabric so that thou may run through puddles and not try in vain to skirt around them, only to plonk thy foot in at the last second anyway.

4. Thou shalt accept that thou will get wet no matter what thou wears, and remember that thou art not the Wicked Witch of the West, and this is okay.

5. Thou shalt ensure that warm gluten-free treats are waiting in the kitchen with a steaming cup of coffee when thou returns from thy adventures.

 

Banana-Maple-Oat Muffins (recipe coming soon!)

Banana-Maple-Oat Muffins (recipe to follow!)

 

(And remember – if it is actually a hurricane, ignore my crazy and don’t go outside. Even I skipped my run during Hurricane Sandy!)

If the trees are falling down, you can stay inside.

If the trees are falling down, you can stay inside.

 

 

 

 

© 2014 Renaissance Runner Girl. All rights reserved.