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Becoming a Rain Man - Running Because it\'s Raining

Training Log For: 01/20/10

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Posted by Matthew

The last several days have been dark, depressing, rainy, wet and miserable, but not to me. I love the rain, always have. People tell me if I were to move to Seattle, my opinion would quickly change. I don't believe them, I'd still love the rain. With the New Year still in the rear view mirror, Culver City has seen its share of "resolution runners", you know who you are, the people who vow to begin a life changing and purpose affirming exercise regimen. I'm not saying New Year's resolution goals are a bad thing. But now that it is raining you begin to see who is really dedicated. Or... perhaps I am just nuts and like running in the rain because of some mental short-circuit.

Today I ran 5.8 miles in the rain, yesterday I ran 5, tomorrow I will run another 5. The run usually starts out dry and cold, yet still energized with the reckless abandon I still retain from my youth. I liked riding my bike in the rain and being outside in the rain with my neighborhood friends. Now I am 26, and when 12:30 comes around, it's like the recess bell rings and I get to go outside and run around like a fool, splashing through puddles and coming back from recess soaking wet. However, at the end of the run my entire body is freezing, my legs hurt in places they never did as a child, my bad knee tightens up, but I still have a big ol' stupid grin on my face. While I'm running I can't help but hear a line from Forrest Gump on repeat:

"One day it started raining, and it didn't quit for four months. We've been through every kind of rain there is: little bit of stinging rain, and big old fat rain, rain that flew in sideways, and sometimes rain even seemed to come strait up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night."

About 50% of the run is big old fat rain that flies in sideways and pelts my cheeks with the occasional droplets in the eyes. I still have no idea why running in the rain, socks soaked and rivulets of water criss-crossing down my numb face. I am 99.9% sure I look crazy, which is ok because I am 100% that I feel crazy. Yvonne was hassling me about going out in the rain and making her look bad, but as I explained (for an unknown reason) I like, nay, I need these runs. When the sun is out I am hot, sweaty and usually just wishing the run would be over. In the rain my mind is clear, I feel fresh, and everything that is bothering me in life seems to get caught up in the rain drops and flow away from my mind.

I will admit it, running 5 miles while soaked to the skivvies is not for everyone. There is no way to place a definite value on running in the rain, although I suspect if you threw enough cash at a University, they could prove athletes who train in the rain train harder and experience some nominal increase in performance. I just do it because it's fun. Admittedly, not much in life is fun (unless you enjoy your day job as much as I do), so finding little things here and there to increase the overall enjoyment of each day, to me, is a huge blessing.

Even if you are not running in the rain, I suppose the moral of this post is to find something about exercise and (marathon) training that is fun. Try to remember stupid stuff you did as a kid that was enjoyable while you ran around (to jog your memory just find a group of kids running around, they will do it for hours if for no other reason than chasing each other is fun). I think when we grow up we lose that ability to behave in ways that maximize the enjoyment of an activity without constant evaluation of how it appears to everyone around us - unless we are talking about actions involving alcohol.

While running, maybe stop for a minute just to enjoy scenery that you otherwise would be driving by or denied the pleasure of in your cubicle sized jail cell. I realize that training for a marathon often requires prolonged periods without rest, but sometimes it's that splash in a puddle, or view from a hilltop that can recharge you for everything weighing you down that day. To me that's worth more than finishing a marathon 10 seconds quicker.