The Art of Running in the Rain

It don’t matter if it’s raining
Nothing can phase me
I make my own sunshine
And if you think you can break me
Baby you’re crazy
I make my own sunshine

“I make my own Sunshine” by Alyssa Bonagura, and recorded by Steven Tyler

I have a lot going on right now. My house just went on the market, so there’s lots of people coming through to look at it – and there is of course the constant battle to keep it neat and ready for the next realtor’s call. I’m also getting ready to launch two spring beginner 5k group training programs next week and there’s my own marathon training.

There is, at times, this feeling that I’m not achieving the success I should be experiencing in any of these things. Last week I had a bad long run (talked about it under “this week in marathon training.”) If I’m struggling in a 14-mile run, do I have any business thinking I can run 26.2 miles at a sub-4-hour pace? My teenager wonders why I didn’t always make her bed and keep the house so tidy, and business-wise, of course I feel like I should be doing more.

What’s the best way to cure all this? Get up at dawn and go for a long run in the rain!

This past Saturday was my running club’s mile trials. This semi-annual event gives me a benchmark for where I am currently and helps me determine the work that needs to be done. While my time was 20 seconds better than the summer trials, I’m still not where I want to be (if I plug my time into the Runner’s World Race Time Predictor, I’m missing my goal. But there’s still time.

By Saturday night it had started raining and the forecast called for it to continue through Sunday. Just the thought of doing another long run (13 miles on the schedule this past weekend) on the treadmill was excruciatingly painful. Someone had posted plans for a group run along the Palisades (Fort Lee, Englewood Cliffs, and Alpine, New Jersey) starting at 8:00am. I responded as a “maybe” and hoped the rain would hold off. I laid out all my clothes so I wouldn’t have to think too much when the 6:30 alarm went off.

It was still raining. I laid in bed and reviewed my plans for the day. What could be shifted around. What couldn’t. And while it looked like there would be a break in the rain between one and four, I had a realtor scheduled to show the house at three. I got up and got dressed. Put on the tights least likely to absorb all the rain and my North Face jacket with the hood.

As soon as I stepped outside, I realized it wasn’t that cold, and the rain wasn’t that hard.  And I was on my way to what I loved. And people said they were looking forward to seeing me. And you know what? I was able to run those hills of the Palisades at an average 55 seconds per mile faster than I was able to run on a flat park path the week prior!  And here’s what made the difference:

More rest. During the week, I focused on getting 7 or more hours of sleep each night and at least 8 whenever possible. I am also working on powering down before 10, even 9:30 on some nights. And honestly, trying to spend less time in general on social media, which at times can make me anxious. So definitely not at bedtime. Consistently getting a good night’s sleep is so key during training.

Better nutrition. Sometimes when I’m busy I lose track of time and forget to eat. Or because my daughter is often out between school and work activities and invitations from friends, I find myself getting lazy about food prep. Since I try to eat vegan most of the time (vegetarian all of the time), it’s critical to plan ahead.  This week, I made a few things ahead of time and kept a few easy items on hand like avocados (for avocado toast) and all-natural peanut butter and jelly on spouted-grain bread as well as other healthy plant-based snacks. Drank lots of water too!

And just as important…

Company. Knowing there was a group to join, that I wouldn’t be out there struggling through the miles alone, was powerful to just get me out of bed. When I found someone running at about my pace during the run, it made it all that much easier. And what was funny, is after the 13 miles, he said that I was pulling him along when he felt like quitting! That will be a good memory the next time I think about not joining the group. Running with others pushes you to do your best (and might help you live longer. Read about that here).

Internal sunshine. Yeah, a sunny day makes it pretty easy to get up ad out and do even the most difficult tasks. But when the sun isn’t shinning, we need to make own sunshine. A good attitude goes a long way.

Palisades Interstate Park. Englewood Cliffs and Fort Lee, New Jersey. February 2018.

This week in Marathon TrainingScreen Shot 2018-02-27 at 5.05.15 PM

This week shows some flexibility. I needed a little extra time to recover from the previous Sunday’s difficult long run so I waited until the afternoon on Tuesday and switched out the speed session on the track for a tempo run. That gave me some of my confidence back. Rain on Thursday led me to the treadmill where I could know I’d be sure footed and could regulate the speed.

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