awful running weather trifecta
November 20, 2013 1:58 PM   Subscribe

After months of training, I’m due to run my first 5k on Saturday morning. It’s going to be quite cold. And windy. And pouring rain. Thinking about it makes me shiver, and really, really not want to run it. Can you help me not quit it and get through the rain?

I’ve asked a number of totally newb running questions lately, and all the wonderful, amazing answers I’ve received have been so incredibly helpful for me to continue. They’ve inspired me and made me excited to run and push myself. Now my 5k is around the corner and it’s supposed to be around 35 degrees with a very cold rain (a pouring rain!). NO DAMMIT NO! Last weekend I ran the same course start to finish (when it was 60 degrees and sunny), so I know I can run it continuously (hills/overpasses and all!). But I also feel like “well I already ran it, so why do I need to do it again in the rain?”

I’ve gone running in the cold and wind. I’ve ran in warmer drizzle. But never pouring rain. Cold, pouring rain with wind.

I don’t own Super Serious Running clothes - I have my compression leggings that I love, and usually run in a t-shirt and this jacket lately, when it’s been cold. My shoes are good, but I run with cheapo cotton ankle socks. And sometimes a baseball cap.

I don’t have any things that are good for the rain - not even a raincoat. I don’t really want to buy new gear for just one day. I also kind of don’t want to run it at all. It makes me shiver just to *think* about running 3.1 miles in a very cold, pouring rain. It’s making me kind of angry actually, and not at all excited.

I haven’t even intentionally avoided running in the rain - it just hasn’t rained on my usual run mornings in the months I’ve been training. But of course it's going to pour on race morning. I don't want to do it. I know it's going to be hell. Is it even possible to run the race in the rain, when running it on a "decent" weather day is still a challenge?
posted by raztaj to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (37 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
To answer your question - yes, it is possible. Yes, it might not be very fun (or as fun as it would be if it were 70 and sunny). But you'll feel amazing afterwards - even if you're drenched and shivering.

You'll be fine in those clothes, I think. I generally dress for a run as if it were 20 degrees warmer than it is - in other words, if it's 35 degrees, I'll wear acceptable clothing for 55 degrees, and a light jacket works just fine in that kind of weather. You may want to pick up some moisture-wicking socks, but even if you don't and your feet get drenched, it's a 30-40 minute run. You'll survive.
posted by downing street memo at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2013

I give you permission to wake up on Saturday morning and make your decision then. There is no (none, really!) shame in saying, "No, I don't want to run in the rain."

Don't waste tons of energy worrying about it. You can't change the weather, and there will always be another race!
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 2:08 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

I hope this isn't totally wrong of me to say... But I wouldn't run it, myself. For me, running is supposed to be fun. Your first race should not be a miserable endurance test. You can sign up for another 5k, easily.
posted by Kriesa at 2:11 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I ran my end of C25K big achievement 5K race in pouring rain and it suuuucked. And it was May, not November. The only thing that made it tolerable is that an extremely kind friend came with me to spectate and took me out to a WARM brunch afterward. The promise of food and coffee is probably the only thing that would motivate me to ever do something like that again.

It's going to rain a lot of times in the future when you planned to run and you don't have to go out in the rain and hate life just to prove you're not a quitter. What makes you not a quitter is that you can stay dry and comfortable right now but stay on track and go out tomorrow.
posted by telegraph at 2:16 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't know where you are, but here in Los Angeles, I find weather forecasting to be akin to examining badger entrails for clues about the future. The only certain thing, is that the forecast will be wrong. And I thought California has the kind of climate that should be easy to forecast - just say "sunny, no rain, warm" and you'll be right 90% of the time, but somehow they still manage to get it wrong (including the always wrong temperature). So I wouldn't stress ahead of time unnecessarily, because by the time the date of the event rolls around, odds are the weather will be different anyway. Of course, maybe you're somewhere where the forecasts are more reliable. If it is pouring rain, no need to run - postpone. And get some rain gear if heavy rains are frequent where you live.
posted by VikingSword at 2:17 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I ran an entire marathon in the rain once. A 5k only lasts about half an hour, right? That's really no time at all. Once you get warmed up (the first half mile or so) you won't so much notice the cold. I admit that it's unpleasant, especially at first, but come on. It's just a little water.
posted by chrchr at 2:21 PM on November 20, 2013

No, you don't need to do it. You don't need to do anything except breathe and eat.

You should run it for five reasons:

1) You said you would.
2) It's less than an hour of your life.
3) You'll get a story to tell.
4) Every race you do in the sun will be that much easier.
5) You'll regret it if you don't.
posted by dzot at 2:21 PM on November 20, 2013 [8 favorites]

I fucking love running in the rain and I would not do this, tbh. 50 and pouring rain? BLISS. 35 and pouring rain? The pajamas are staying on.
posted by elizardbits at 2:22 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I know it's going to be hell. Is it even possible to run the race in the rain, when running it on a "decent" weather day is still a challenge?

Ok, this is easy for me to say because I grew up playing hockey and football no matter how bad the weather was.

Don't psyche yourself out. Once your there and the crowd and the excitement take hold, you won't even notice the rain. I think you are making this worse than it will be and if I were you, I would regret not doing it just because of rain and cold weather.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:22 PM on November 20, 2013

Bring a big black garbage bag to wear while you are waiting in the rain before the start. (Cut neck and arm holes before you go.) Take the bag off soon after you start running.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by monotreme at 2:26 PM on November 20, 2013

I hate running in the rain. I can't see, I'm afraid of slipping, and soggy clothes introduce all sorts of new chafing and sticking problems. For a regular solo run, I wouldn't bother, but for an event, I'd be conflicted.

Wait and see how the weather shakes out on race day, and make your decision then. In the meantime, mentally prepare yourself to be okay with either outcome. If it's pouring, you can either skip and run another 5k under favorable conditions, making your first race more likely to be a pleasant experience, or you can run it anyway and have an interesting story to tell later.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:31 PM on November 20, 2013

(assuming you're a man) If you are going to run, just remember to wear something waterproof over that cotton T-shirt. Wet cotton chafes like sandpaper. If you value your nipples you'll follow this advice.
posted by I_read_somewhere_that_. . . at 2:31 PM on November 20, 2013

When I ran my first 10K, it was a torrential downpour. I drove to the event early in the morning while it was still dark out, and cars from the oncoming lane of traffic were sending waves of water over my car.

I still went, and I ran. I was soaking wet. And there was something about being wet in the rain while running that made the event exhiliarating, and very memorable. I would not change it for a perfect sunny day now, even though it was difficult to get out of bed.

I don't think you will regret going, but you may regret not going! (This line of thought has helped me do a number of things that I've found difficult.) It's a very short period of time during which you can create a pretty exciting and lasting memory. Good luck!
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:32 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

I have run in colder weather and when it was snowing/raining/sleeting. It is unpleasant, but a 5K won't take much longer than a half hour even at a moderate pace.

Bring a waterproof/resistant hat and gloves. Or even a fleece hat or gloves, since they will still insulate even when wet. Also, bring a dry change of clothes or at the very least a dry change of shoes and socks. You will feel infinitely better after getting out of the cold, wet clothes. A towel is also a good idea.

In my experience the rain will exacerbate the risk of blisters and chafing, so take appropriate precautions if possible.
posted by jedicus at 2:37 PM on November 20, 2013

It WILL be over soon, and you'll feel proud of your accomplishment, BUT! There are a kajillion 5ks happening all the time. You're allowed to sign up for another one that's scheduled soon and skip this one if you want.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:46 PM on November 20, 2013

You absolutely should do it. Cold though it may be, you'll quickly warm up. And you'll feel like a legend for not just running 5k but doing it in crappy weather. Remember: you've trained for this. All that hard work.

A useful mental trick: think of it as a non-negotiable training run. Of course you'd do it.

I ran my first half marathon earlier this year, having trained for two months on cold, wet, dark weekdays. The week before the race it rained heavily. 3 days before the race it got cancelled. I hit the pub that evening. Such bliss. Then the day before race day, Mrs MM informed me we would be running 13 miles tomorrow. The rain had cleared but it was below freezing and very windy. Given a choice I'd have stayed in bed. But I didn't get a choice.

I did it. I felt like a legend.

Make sure you have dry clothes to change into once you've finished. It will greatly improve your quality of life.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:47 PM on November 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

Definitely wear a garbage bag. But don't psyche yourself out. It's okay if you decide not to do it. But if you do it, you'll feel even more proud of yourself for having run in crappy weather. Anyone can run when it's nice out. Plus you'll impress all of your friends. One of my favorite running memories is my father looking at me, horrified, as I hopped out of the car wearing a trash bag over my running clothes to run an 8K in the freezing rain. You can do it but you don't have to.
posted by kat518 at 2:49 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

How about you sign up for a TurkeyTrot on Thanksgiving (assuming US)? That way you are still racing this week, just a couple days later, and bonus pie eating after!

(And, if it turns out amazing and pretty on Saturday, you can run that, and then just walk the Trot for the tshirt)
posted by zara at 2:52 PM on November 20, 2013

The older I get, the more I realize that I don't regret the things I've done... I regret the things I haven't done. Do the race; it's not the same thing to have run it by yourself on a nice day.
posted by barnoley at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

IMO, running in freezing rain is only necessary when you're being chased. Why be cold, uncomfortable, and extra blistered/chafed when you don't have to? There are so many 5Ks to run and most of them will be way more fun than this one.
posted by quince at 3:10 PM on November 20, 2013

Do it. You'll be slower than you expect (or maybe not, races tend to go faster than tempo runs, because adrenaline and all that) , and it might be a little less fun, but I think you will have a good time. It will make for a good story, strong memories, and all of your subsequent good-weather 5Ks will be cakewalks. It's a few hours max out of your life where you will be uncomfortable, versus a lifetime of regretting not doing the race.

There's also the mantra of DFL (dead f-ing last) > DNF (did not finish) > DNS (did not start) .
posted by Fig at 3:15 PM on November 20, 2013

No one in the entire history of humanity has ever looked back from their deathbed and ever said "wow i really regret that one time i didn't go running in a freezing deluge". No one ever.
posted by elizardbits at 3:22 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

A few years ago I was driving down the road when I saw this dude doing crunches on the sidewalk in the pouring rain. And it was cold out. "Bad Ass," that's what I thought when I saw him. You, too, will be a bad ass if you run the 5k.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:29 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Based on your ask history, you are in the DC area, no? Weather Underground has the chance of rain for Saturday at only 30%. Get your racing gear ready on Friday night, and set your alarm. Nthing the giant trash bag.

Also, tiger balm for your knees. Warm knees are happy knees.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 3:29 PM on November 20, 2013

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, a lot of running is mental.

I'm a runner and I love to do all sorts of races. Whenever there's a slightly eh forecast, I always tell myself that I don't have to go, and I don't even have to think about it til the morning of the race. Then on the morning, I get on my gear and unless it's horrible, I drive to the race telling myself that I can always go home if it gets really awful out.

I always end up running and feeling so happy that I did.
posted by kinetic at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2013

No one in the entire history of humanity has ever looked back from their deathbed and ever said "wow i really regret that one time i didn't go running in a freezing deluge". No one ever.

Actually, I'm a runner and I have said that many many times....pretty much every time I skip a run due to the weather. It's only on days that are actually too dangerous (snowy/icy) to run that I don't feel terribly guilty afterwards and regret it.
posted by barnoley at 3:55 PM on November 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Can you help me not quit it and get through the rain?
You have to do it. You trained for it, you signed up for it, you are a runner now and you are not going to skip a race for a little drizzle. You are not going to spend the rest of the weekend telling your friends that you skipped a race because it was going to be drizzling. You are going to tell them that it was 35 and raining and you ran and kicked ass, and they are going to ooh and ah and buy you beers.

Besides, If you do it right, the rain and cold will be the least of your problems. Running 5k at max effort hurts. Your lungs are going to hurt, your legs are going to hurt. At mile 2 you are definitely not going to want to be doing this anymore and it won't be because of a little rain. But you are going to finish and you don't have to do anything else all weekend except let your friends ooh and ah and buy you drinks.
posted by ftm at 4:12 PM on November 20, 2013

I live in the PNW, where, of course, it rains all the time. I run for fitness, and for me, running season doesn't start until the rains come. If you have the right layers you will sweat a film onto your body and your body heat will warm that film. the rain means the sweat won't be wicked away, but your outer layers should keep the inner layers from losing the heat you've created. 5 minutes into this run you will be toasty warm and have forgotten all about the weather in favor of what you are doing. bring dry clothes to change into. you will be glad to did this run and every run after will be easier.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do it! 35 is cold, 35 and raining is rough, but a 5k is short and you'll be so proud of yourself.

Wear gloves - much of your body will warm up, but not your hands. Cheap knit gloves are fine; the point is to have another layer and block some wind, not to be waterproof. Your tights will be good wind protection. The cotton socks are fine, but watch for puddles - soaked feet will make you an order of magnitude more uncomfortable. Bring warm clothes that you can shed easily for before the race. Races tend to involve some amount of standing around while things get organized, and that's when you'll be the coldest.

If you're running on a regular basis, willingness to go out in unpleasant weather changes the whole game. Without it, you're trapped on a treadmill (or sitting on the couch) for a large part of the year. Turning "I don't feel like running today" into "I'm going to suck it up" usually then turns into "I am AWESOME!"
posted by orangejenny at 4:27 PM on November 20, 2013

I'm originally Canadian and believe in the North Face slogan that there's no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. (I still hate the dark however...)

Proper gear is very expensive when you buy it but it lasts forever. I wore 16 year old MEC hiking pants this summer and have 10+ year old patagonia stuff I wear skiing.

Admittedly I don't run so I don't know the recommended gear but find out and invest in some good outerwear- and socks! You will reap the rewards for years to come...and maybe the price will make you not quit anytime soon!
posted by bquarters at 4:49 PM on November 20, 2013

I did a training run years ago in rain pouring so hard it was difficult to breathe. Completely counterintuitively, that memory is one of my most pleasant running memories. I suppose it made me feel like it was me, alone, versus nature. Granted, I suffer from superhero fantasies. So, go for it if you have a similar malady.
posted by FiveSecondRule at 5:44 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I became a better runner when I decided that I would dress for the weather, but I wouldn't let the weather stop me.*

I'd run in that weather without a second thought, in Underarmor Warm Gear tights, a sweat-wicking long-sleeved shirt, and a fleece vest, plus a hat and gloves. Once you get going, staying warm won't be a problem. The moisture will just steam right off of you.

Be sure you can get dried off and warm quickly when you're done.

* I don't run in thunderstorms. But if there isn't lightning, hail, and/or a tornado warning, I go out there.
posted by BrashTech at 5:50 PM on November 20, 2013

Your first 5K? Yeah run it, because you're a badass runner now.

I ran a half marathon in similar conditions. At the time, it sucked it hard, but I look back on that race with some affection. (Not like the record-heat pukefest of running up Torrey Pines hill.)

Dress warm at the start. Wear a CONTRACTOR trash bag which will cover you to your feet. Have dry clothing, a thermos of hot cocoa and a blanket in your car.

You got this.
posted by 26.2 at 6:27 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you rock just for getting out there and setting it up, I think you're brave to have done the training and not laying on the couch eating twinkies and watching tv.

A friend of mine who is really wise always laughed his head off at how people want to "take a supplement" to get in shape, generally a supplement they saw on sports channel after work as they lay on the couch.

And he is the guy also who always said that if he shows up on his yoga mat, then he's practiced IE if he shows up, dressed to practice, and unrolls his mat, and stands on it in contemplation, and then still says "Nope, not gonna happen." then he rolls up his mat and goes on with his day, and counts it as showing up; he practiced that day.

So here's what Mike, my wise friend Mike, here is what he would say: You've got to show up. Dressed for it. Stand out in it, contemplatively, ready for either way. And then you'll know, and either way you're right on the money.

Show up.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:06 PM on November 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Of course it's hard. If it were easy, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.

I, the Internet Running Authority, do hereby grant you the right to hate it. Be a shitty grump in the morning, dawdle getting ready, show up later than you want, piss and moan about how shitty it all is, hate every last miserable step, curse God and your mother for this horrible existence, cross the finish line and then stop running forever.

I do not, however, give you permission to skip this race. You signed up for this, you trained for this, this is your event. You are doing this, full stop.

My old running coach said, "Once you put on that (race bib), you're saying that you're going to go out there and give it everything you have. It's sacred, and it's non-negotiable." In your case, you haven't actually pinned the number to your shirt yet, but you've trained for this day. You've increased your fitness an amazing amount. You've made that commitment. All you need to do is follow through.

Worst-case, it's cold and sleety. So blapping what! Wear a slicker and sweats, tie plastic bags over your shoes and rip them off just before the race starts. You'll be a lot warmer than you think. And it's 30 min or less! You can have a pizza waiting for you at the finish!

Okay, really, if it's that shitty, yeah, skip it. I sure as hell would. But if I skipped every race in shitty conditions I would have missed out on a lot of good experiences: setting a PR at 16°F, running 5 miles with my brothers in cold shitty sleet that was coming down sideways so there was about a mile where everybody was blind, being physically cold for the entire length of an Olympic-distance tri. All good experiences, all great stories to have, all good confidence-boosters (except the 5k in 90°F/90% humidity; that was just stupid).

Yeah, I think you should go.
posted by disconnect at 11:14 AM on November 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: IT DIDN'T RAIN.

When I posted the question, the forecast was basically 80% deluge expected with a windchill of 18. It turned out to be mostly sunny, and about 45 degrees, slightly breezy, which was perfect. The rain came last night, and the cold comes in tonight. But this morning was simply perfect. I ran it, and ended up netting about 4 minutes faster than I usually do, and just 16 seconds away from my "LOLIMPOSSIBLE!" goal of under 30 mins, which I'm super happy about.

Thank you all for your amazing support and encouragement. And the spectacular anecdotal stories that are a great reminder of the mind games that running is often about. I will definitely be coming back to read your answers every time I get in a disgruntled funk about the challenges.

Now I kind of *want* to run in the rain just to try. And definitely sign up for more races.
posted by raztaj at 7:48 AM on November 23, 2013 [11 favorites]

Yay!! Congrats!
posted by barnoley at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2013

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