Running in the Rain: Sucks or Is Awesome?

Yesterday, I wrote on twitter:

twitter - rain

This prompted a whole debate among the triathletes/runners/cyclists. I was surprised so many people came to the defense of rain. Though, in my defense, none of those people live in the Pacific Northwest.

rain - debate

So, apparently, my hatred of rain is not universal. But, hear me out: it sucks.

Sure, sure, splashing around in the warm rain is fun, like being a kid and playing in broken fire hydrants. (Oh, what, you guys didn’t do that? Welcome to growing up in Chicago.) And, a short run in the rain can be ok — again, in a sort of ‘aren’t I crazy’ way. But.

But, real rain, rain that you can’t wear the right kind of clothes and make go away, sucks. Anything longer than an hour sucks. Anything colder than 60 degrees in the rain sucks. Anything where there are multiple days of rain sucks. Anything where you can’t get dry and warm immediately after sucks. Don’t believe me? Come sleep on my futon and I will give you a crash course in how to get hypothermia while training in California.

Once, my junior year of college, it rained for 28 days straight. And, I don’t even live in Seattle. I don’t think I had a dry pair of shoes left by the second week. If that’s fun, then we have very different ideas of a good time.

Yesterday, I ran a bit over 12 miles plus drills, with lots of 6:40 pace stuff, in the not particularly warm rain. Every seam in my shirt and shorts rubbed my skin raw. I was wearing gloves – thank god – but my hands were still so frozen after I got home that I knocked over a cup and spilled water all over the table. AND, the thing is: it wasn’t that bad, because it wasn’t that cold or that heavy a downpour or that long a storm.

So, no, I don’t think running in the rain is fun. Don’t even get me started on biking in the rain.

For a long time, I’ve been pretty convinced that really it’s the people who don’t go out in it who think it’s great. The same tools who say things like: “Don’t you love rainy days when you can curl up in front of a fireplace.” No. No, I do not enjoy contributing to air pollution after attempting to actually go outside as opposed to driving from my home to my office and back to my home.

But, that’s not totally fair. Because, as the twitter debate demonstrates, there are plenty of very fast and very fit people who enjoy rainy workouts (though, again, I suspect only to a degree). So, instead, for a while, I suspected that the whole running or riding or swimming or Crossfitting — yes, I’ve unfortunately done that too — in the rain thing was really just an effort to toughen up, to make it more extreme. There is certainly a widespread belief out there that if your workouts are crazy or hard or tough enough, then you’ll be better prepared. There have even been some [often Eastern European] pros who have argued that when it’s hailing and pouring, that’s exactly when you should head out on your bike, in order to harden up.

Let me suggest, though: You don’t need to go out searching for the crazy; it’ll find you.

I know this to be true. Enough stupid hard things happen that I don’t need to go look for them. Enough bad decisions will be made on accident that I don’t need to make them on purpose. Enough days I am miserable that I don’t need to try and make myself miserable.

(And, that’s probably good advice for life too — college students slumming through Southeast Asia, I’m looking at you.)

Maybe I’m wrong, obviously. There’s certainly workouts one does simply to prove to oneself that they can be done. But, that’s a dangerous game. And, maybe, running in the rain is really just fun for some people. I even think it’s fun-ish some of the time. Maybe (probably) I just need a better attitude. But, a better attitude isn’t going to happen while I’m doing my drowned rat imitation.

Does running in the rain suck?

8 thoughts on “Running in the Rain: Sucks or Is Awesome?

    1. Yeah, that’s why I end up in the rain all the time, because I’ve never lasted more than 30 minutes on the treadmill. Of course, some people love treadmills, so…

  1. Hmm… I have been known to say I enjoy running in the rain. BUT – I think I usually say that in September or so after several months of sunny summer weather here in Victoria BC. I don’t think I say that this time of year, when I’m basically feeling like a drowned rat. Is it a classic example of the “grass is always greener” cliche? Give me a year in sunny SoCal and then see what I say. I probably won’t want to go home! (except to get away from the traffic – boo to traffic – spoken like a true islander).

  2. […] Rain. God I hate the rain. Tried to bike to the ferry, but failed. Turned around after getting soaked, which totaled like 30′ of biking. Then, took the bus to cross-country practice, because I didn’t feel like getting wet again. But, with some kind of accident and traffic, it took an hour. AN HOUR. I’m not making this up, I can run from my house to the high school in 40′. After I finally got there, ran about 3.5 miles easy with the kids. […]

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