Rain, Rain, Don’t Go Away


By Sheryl Rosen,


My coworker darted to her car through the raindrops and puddles. I, on the other hand, smiled at the onslaught and strolled to my vehicle after work, eager to get my feet into Asics and hit the flooded trails.

Time and time again, I find runners look at the world – including precipitation – a bit differently. To people not of the farming or gardening variety, rain is a small nuisance. To runners, the recent summer showers mean not only relief to the thirsty crops and zinnias, but also a cool reprieve from the heat and a chance to feel like a kid playing in the rain again.

Watch a four-year-old in a downpour, and he or she will splash about and delight in the water and ensuing mud. While most adults have lost this zeal, most runners have retained it. Rain doesn’t hole us up indoors – save the dangers of lightning of course. It doesn’t make us skip our workout and summon excuses. Rain dampens everything but our moods as we tromp through the fields and roads like the unafraid kids we all used to be.

Runners happily nurture a multitude of delusions, whether inflating our estimated pace or assuming injury won’t strike. However, the perception of strength and invincibility runners can feel when running in the rain is real, even if the actual invincibility isn’t. As everyone else bolts for shelter, runners can take pride in weathering the storm and enjoying a type of run the less adventurous miss. (I call this the adversity factor. It’s the same lure as runs with obstacles, like the Prefontaine 5K, and the same lure as long distances.)

The feeling one receives from running in the rain is different than in other conditions, such as cold, heat, or wind. Consider this:

The trails look markedly different in a deluge. There is never a better time to have the trail or sidewalk to yourself than while it’s raining, since most other people will abandon their workout.

The trails sound different. Other than the obvious noise of water hitting leaves or one’s heavy shoes sloshing through a puddle, the scene is quiet, perhaps even as sleepy and peaceful as dawn.

The trails also feel different. Physically speaking, the once sandy ground is packed and the once hard clay or dirt is more like a mud pit. The footing is slippery, so we adjust our stride accordingly. If it’s hot, running in the rain also makes us cooler, but if it’s cold, it makes us colder. Emotionally, at least for me, the rain is a happy kind of solemnity, a lonely peace akin to absorbing a breathtaking view without caring no one is there to share your awe.