Why Should You Run In Rain, Snow, Sleet, and Mud?

Because it can make a run flat-out fantastic, that’s why.

Photo via Comstock/Thinkstock.

Did you run through this weekend’s torrential deluge? I did, and it wasn’t the first time, either. I’ve got to have run hundreds of miles in inclement weather: I’ve run on trails so muddy I lost my shoe; I ran in a torrential downpour after the day I received my bachelor’s degree; last year, I ran at midnight, in a blizzard, with only a headlamp to light the way. And as it turns out, I’m not alone in this. Most runners — 85 percent, according to a recent Runner’s World poll — don’t care about a few storm clouds, and some even attest that rain only makes running better.

The psychology of this makes sense to me. Part of the reason we run is the challenge, the idea of pushing your body past its comfort zone. Adding an extra layer of difficulty to the endeavor seems like a good way to create adventure and bring variety to the daily grind. Not only that, but the very spirit of a New Englander is rugged, individual — Yankee tough, as it were. The thousands of runners who completed the Boston Marathon in last week’s oppressive heat can attest to that satisfying feeling of facing a challenge head-on, when those in advisory positions said wait until next year, or don’t even try to finish. There is an unparalleled sense of accomplishment to finishing a run that others said was crazy, whether that means it was too wet, too hot, or too long. A runner’s high is supposed to be about endorphins, but maybe in New England it’s also a little bit about stubborn pride, to look back after a difficult run and say, yes, I did that.

If you’re still working into the “run through anything” mentality, good news: there has never been a better time to try. The gear available on the market today is hugely improved on that of yore, both lightweight and breathable and easy to find. For example, the Nike Cyclone Vapor, which you can get pretty much at any sporting goods store (my two local favorites: Marathon Sports and Greater Boston Running Company) has top reviews for keeping water out without becoming a mini-sauna. Facing the elements doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. I also like to think of it as an excuse to splash in puddles, where I don’t have to take myself serious as a runner or as a lady for a while.

If nothing else, running in the rain can become an excuse to put the watch away. It can be a time to worry less about fitness and more about letting the run dictate how far or how fast to go. It might seem counter-intuitive, but going for a run in adverse conditions can be very freeing. It reminds me that I am in control of my health and well-being, and that no excuse is strong enough to come between me and a good run. Try it out — rainy season is just beginning.

  • Mai

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE running in the rain. Something about how getting soaked on toughens you up – not just for running (because I don’t compete in races) but for life in general.

    It is also amazing to me how many drivers give me grins and “thumbs up” signs (even rolling down their car window in the rain to smile at me – like one did today) – it’s as if drivers are trying to figure out what runners know about running in the rain that they perhaps are too embarrassed to find out on their own.

    I have run in downpours the last two days – and as far as I’m concerned…. it can just keep on pouring. Not being afraid of rain – not being afraid of putting one foot in front of the other – running in the rain has helped teach me to be less fearful. There was a point in my life I wouldn’t even have thought of running in the rain. But in my 40’s, I cherish the downpours.

    I also think there is a certain sex appeal to runners who run in the rain and it’s why it attracts the attention of drivers (at least in my case and I’m no “super model”).

    Thanks for a GREAT post!

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