Many people are fair-weather runners, and I don’t blame them. I’ve certainly had my share of mornings that involve me glancing out the window and saying, Hell no! But on this fine morning, I reminded myself that it had been awhile since I had gone for a good run in the rain, so I decided it was time to get my feet wet. Very VERY wet, I discovered…

My run to work is only about 14 minutes but I had planned to throw in a detour to extend it, given that this has been a light mileage week so far. I ended up running for 30 minutes in what was essentially a power shower.

Crazy, you say?

Sure, that first ankle-deep puddle didn’t feel so pleasant, but by the second and third ones I <ahem> hardly noticed! Squish squish squish squish. My contacts nearly washed away as the icy cold water streamed into my eyes and halfway through the run my Garmin decided it was fed up and abruptly shut down, but no matter…I don’t need you Garmin! I was all geared up and wouldn’t let the elements defeat me. It was fun being that person out on the streets, getting strange looks as I passed by and nodding to the occasional runner while exchanging looks that said – Yeah, we rock.

Why should I run in the rain or snow?

If you’re training for an event, it’s crucial that you practice running in all types of weather. What happens if it’s raining (or worse) on race day? Are you going to turn around and go home or are you going to push through it, because you’ve practiced and it doesn’t phase you? It makes you stronger, mentally and physically, to grit your teeth and get on with it.

And I don’t know about you, but I LOVE running in the snow – not slush but fresh snow, when you hear that lovely crunching sound with each step. I had the most amazing 9M run along the river, from Putney to Richmond, a few weeks ago right after a blizzard. Sure, it took a mile or two to warm up, but once I got going I felt amazing, mesmerised by the winter wonderland surrounding me! I don’t always enjoy running in the rain (at least not if it’s pouring out), but it can be very refreshing and liberating – once you get wet enough, you stop avoiding those puddles and start stomping through them – always makes me feel like a kid again!

What should I wear?

If you read my recent post on New Year’s Running and tips for getting started, then you may have already read how crucial it is to have good quality running gear that fits you well and protects you from the elements. If not, check it out. I would not survive any of my winter runs without key items, such as a water-resistant and windproof jacket, a fitted long-sleeve top and tank and/or sports bra, a warm pair of gloves, hat and socks, long running tights etc. When I’m wearing my favorite and most effective items, I really FEEL like a runner,  which in turn gets me revved up to get out there regardless of the weather. And as an added bonus, I ultimately perform better too.

So ditch that old sweatshirt and cotton t-shirt and get yourself something in a technical fabric that not only looks great but will also help you stay warm and dry!

But I’m not training for an event!

Well, if you start letting one excuse stop you from running, then where does it end? Soon enough you’ll look back and realize you only ran once in the last two weeks, because you were too busy at work, stayed up too late, drank too much the night before, had to go to that thing, were travelling, weren’t in the mood, promised do it tomorrow, etc. Make your run a priority in your busy schedule! You can always squeeze in a quick run – something is better than nothing, and I promise you’ll feel better once you do it!

Obviously you should always make sure that the conditions are safe – if it’s icy out or if you’re feeling unwell/exhausted, run indoors or skip the workout – but if it’s just wet and gross out, don’t let the weather defeat you!

But I’m running to/from work and don’t want to get my stuff wet!

Many running backpacks have a rain cover. Unfortunately mine does not, but there’s a very cheap and easy solution – just wrap up the contents in a garbage bag and off you go! I got to the office looking like a drowned rat, but at least my change of clothes, electronics and other items were bone dry.

But I like to listen to music and can’t do that in the rain!

If that’s your excuse, then seriously, get over it. I know some people really struggle to run without music, but I think it’s really important to practice running without music and personally, I enjoy the peace and quiet. Sure, I enjoy blasting music on the treadmill while doing a really tough speed session, but it’s also very relaxing not having any noise and just letting your thoughts wander, listening to the sounds of your feet, your breath, your surroundings. It also forces you to pay attention to how you are feeling – does anything hurt? Is the pace right? Not to mention, you can pay more attention to things like cars, cyclists and other potentially dangerous obstacles!

If you really love your music, then get yourself a pair of waterproof headphones (probably a good idea anyway, to protect against sweat) and a waterproof ipod case – or better yet, just put the ipod in a plastic bag – problem solved!

And one last reason to fight back against the weather:

I ended up running home too – it had stopped raining, but it was still pretty nasty out (although I believe the nastiness of my soggy, stinky clothes won that competition). It was a relatively short but fast run – a cathartic ending to a particularly long and tough day in the office. Thankfully, it’s Friday – and a delicious dinner, big glass of wine and a whole lot of self-satisfaction awaited me.

I ran in the rain – Hell yeah!